Every morning, I had the best of intentions. Today would be the day I had a mind-blowing, distraction-free devotional time. But – every morning – something always seemed to get me off track. And, if I was really honest, many times I didn’t want to read my bible or pray all that much. Something had to change.
Can you identify? If your times with God are boring, inconsistent, or both, it may because of one of these 8 reasons. The good news is that, in uncovering the bad news lies the beginning of hope.
The Usual Suspects
Here are some of the usual suspects when our devotional times are stale, sporadic, or both:
- You follow a formula and never deviate from it. Imagine this: every Friday night your boyfriend takes you on a date. He starts by telling you you look great, gives you flowers, takes you to the same restaurant, then gives you a kiss goodnight. It was great the first time, but you get the feeling that he’s no longer seeing you. He’s just doing what’s safe and easy. If we’re relating to God – a Person – there will be rhythms and predictability, but also variety and moments we didn’t expect.
- You allow social media, email and other things to get in the way. We think we can ‘just’ respond to this one email, or, read this quick blog post, but research shows that we tend to keep going. And, of course, these other things are much easier than relating to God.
- You do it because you’re supposed to, not because you want to. Many of us were told by a pastor or older mentor that we’re supposed to read our bibles and pray regularly. And we are, but again, it’s to relate to a Person who loves us, not to be a ‘good Christian’.
- You haven’t dealt with your past. No matter how awesome our family of origin was, it wasn’t perfect. Maybe our parents were pillars of the church but didn’t have much time for us. Or, they pushed us to be holy but felt condemning. Sometimes we (wrongly but understandably) map dynamics like these onto our relationship with God and it creates distance.
- You’re expecting an emotional experience or other specific outcome. We’ve been led to believe we’ll feel close to God or learn something new when we spend time with him, but, he never promises that. I love spending time with my wife, but doing that doesn’t guarantee we’ll feel closer at the end. God does promise, though, that ‘if you seek me you will find me’ (Jeremiah 29:13).
- You have unconfessed sin. I’m not talking about micro-analyzing your life for everything little thing. This is about known sin – and especially patterns – that we’re consciously avoiding. Again, think about human relationships. What would happen, for example, if you repeatedly got angry with your best friend and just ignored it? Thankfully, God is always, always eager to welcome us back (see Luke 15 / Parable of the Prodigal Son).
- You’re doing your devotions just like someone else. It’s not wrong to pattern what you do in your devotional times after someone else, but this is your relationship with God. He wants to connect with the real you. If the way your spiritual mentor does it isn’t working for you, it’s time to re-evaluate.
- You’re out of balance. At the end of the day, our times with God can be boiled down to two things. We hear from, and talk to, God. If we’re (basically) doing one without the other, it’s really not a relationship. So reading our bibles without praying, or vice-versa, is bound to lead to a boring, unfulfilling practice we won’t look forward to.
Keeping It Simple
I hope this post doesn’t feel negative. My hope is that, by identifying a few areas of weakness, you can clear the way for the more vibrant, deep relationship with God that you (and He) are longing for. Know that I’m right here in the trenches with you.
Let’s live it out: Which 1-2 of the areas above do you need to address in order to have richer, more consistent times with God?