A Devotional Life Sets the Tone

6:27 am Disciple, Learning, Spiritual

A few questions for myself. If asked:

Do you pray? Answer: Yes, I pray often.
Do you study the Bible? Answer: Yes, yes I do.

Oh, that sounds wonderful. But let’s go a little deeper…

Do you pray and study the Bible consistently??  Oh, well, uh, er.  Easier said than done.

I mean, I go on weekend retreats where I’m expending tons of mental energy.  I have visits with family that make a normal routine impossible.  With meetings and activities that I’ve signed up to participate in, life gets very busy.  And I have a personality that tends to be easily distracted.

What does that sound like to you?  Reasoning?  Rationalization?  Excuses?  Maybe a few more questions would be helpful.  Do you clothe yourself regularly?  Yes, definitely, without exception.  Do you brush your teeth each day?  Sometimes more than once!  Do you shower daily?  With a few exceptions, but I would say for the vast majority, yes, regularly.  And do you regularly have a meal?  Um, check my waistline, I am not deprived – I make it to the table … regularly.

So the question isn’t whether a devotional life can be done, or if the busyness of life can be accounted for.  The question is on which list do these activities rest?  So reasoning aside.  Let’s get to taking action!

I have been using Professor Grant Horner’s Bible Reading Method since January of 2011.  I liked the nerdiness of it.  For me it required a spreadsheet to keep track.  You read 10 chapters a day from 10 different lists.  The goal isn’t to deeply meditate on the word, but to read it through and soak it in.  Let familiarity grow and gain insight from the ever changing combination of the chapters as they juxtapose themselves in the daily readings.

This method can take 45 minutes.  The goal is to get through, not to stop and think.  That is what made it difficult.  Not to mention my sporadic participation.  So I fell behind, and what seemed like a good system – and one that has worked better for me than any I’ve yet encountered (or so I thought)… Became a drudgery.

Then I had another epiphany.  A cousin of mine (once removed, technically) started posting on Facebook that he was reading a daily reading from YouVersion.com I went and checked it out.  It’s pretty nice.  It has online Bibles and reading plans and it encourages you to share what your doing through Facebook or Twitter.  It’s not quite there yet, it takes about 5 clicks on their site to get to where I’m ready to read.  But it’s worth supporting (I gave them a link, as you see).

I found old Prof. Horner’s reading plan there.  So I signed up and got started.  I  didn’t make it too far, maybe a week?  Before seeing that a new tool doesn’t make a habit happen – the activity does.  A new pen, or a new laptop, doesn’t make you a writer – writing does.  That sage advice aside, I wanted a plan that was not fighting against me.  I wanted to study God’s word, not just read it.  So I started looking at other plans.

And that’s how I got to this post this morning.  I came across a devotional plan that I was introduced to back in 2003, or was it 2005?  I’m not sure (I should probably research that for my future biographers…).  But I remember Pastor Dean sharing his discovery with the elders.  It is the Life Journal Reading Plan from Pastor Wayne Cordeiro (he’s in Hawaii, how can you not praise God when you pastor there??).  But I’m on the plan and I want to share it with you – or at least share what I like about it:

  1. It is a plan for study, there is a daily reading assignment.  From the reading you focus in on a verse or passage – called a Scripture.  Then you write out an Observation and an Application of that scripture.  And finally you have a Prayer regarding what you’ve studied (and you write those four segments in a “Life Journal” S.O.A.P. << cleaning up an ungodly life 😉 ).  So you end up having a commentary in the Bible written by you!  That’s handy.
  2. There are only 4-5, or so chapters each day.  Much smaller and manageable.
  3. The plan completes the Bible in a year, so you don’t get the variety.  An a given date you will always be reading the same grouping of chapters.  But that gives an advantage too…
  4. It’s something you can share!  You can do together!  If, for some reason, you decided to join me – we would be reading the same verses each day.  If you saw me today you could say, “Ah Paul really polished it off there at the end of 2nd Corinthians, didn’t he?”  We’d smile, we’d wink, and maybe we’d talk about what impressed us today.  We could even share our journal entries and have a little impromptu study… I really like that possibility.

So with those reasons, I’m chugging ahead.  Join me if you like.  Who knows, I may even get a paper Journal and write with ink or something.  Now I’d have to be pretty inspired to try some kind of craziness like that!

What do you think?  Join me?  Not joining me?  Skeptical that I’ll keep up?  Tell me so in the comments – I love being motivated to create life changing habits … and when I’ve made it we can look back and comment that “I did it all … just to spite you!”  << that’ll be a post for another time.