I realized awhile back that when I ask people how their walk with the Lord is going they will almost invariably respond by mentioning that they are not reading their Bible and praying often enough. It is so predictable that I’ve found that I can prepare topical lessons on reading the Bible and praying and then openly ask a group how each member’s walk with the Lord is going. Since the answers rarely vary I do not prepare the wrong material. I once asked a dear young man in high school who answered this way if he knew where it said in the Bible that you need to have a time to read and pray every day. He said he thought it was in Psalms.
Did you know that the Bible does not tell us to “do our devotions”? Nothing like that is in there. It does not say that good Christians get up early and “spend time with the Lord.” This might seem a dangerous thing to say but what is truly dangerous is teaching people to read and pray once a day in order to be ok.
A corollary to the question of amount of “devotions” is the common question of intentions. People who are not satisfied with the amount of time spent reading the Bible and praying often ask if they should wait until they feel like reading and praying or if that would in some way be fake and not as pleasing to God or fruitful for them.
The question of intentions leads us back from actions into the underlying state of our soul and that is always more important than how we feel or what we do. It is the reason why we feel and act as we do and it is at this level that the Bible discusses reading and praying.
David writes in Psalm 119:97: “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” David was a man who found himself often desperately in need of God’s wisdom and all day long he turned to the law which he knew well. He was also often up late at night and would meditate on the word and pray to God whether in love of His word or from pressing troubles (Ps. 6:6; 16:7; 17:3; 22:2; 32:4; 42:8; 63:6; 77:2,6). In his passion and trials David would turn to the Lord at any given time, night or day.
We see something very different in Daniel. Daniel was more disciplined and structured in his prayers than David. Daniel consistently prayed three times a day (Dan. 6:10).
So which one was doing their devotions incorrectly? Both sought out the Lord in a way that accorded with their personalities. The Lord does not command us anywhere to read a section of the Bible and pray once every morning so that we can feel like He’s not upset with our performance. The devotion part of “doing our devotions” is a life given over to the Lord and in desperate need of His presence. We cannot ever learn the Bible without living what it says and when we come to Him in His word in order to check an item off our to-do list we are failing to recognize our need for prayer and scripture.
You may have to commit to praying and reading until it becomes a desire. You may have to ask the Lord to reveal your need to you. You might experiment to find the time of day when you’re most able to focus yourself on the Lord. You might need to remind yourself that if you are getting to know God through His word and prayer you’re probably not doing it wrong. God will not love you more or less of you read and pray more or less so read and pray to find the God who loves and guides you anyway.