When I first entered the youth group at the age of twelve, I did not have any kind of consistent routine for daily devotions. I knew that God’s Word was important, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to be faithful to reading. Through my time in youth group, God placed multiple people in my life who gave me the tools I needed to have a consistent quiet time. One of those people was my youth pastor, Dwight Martin. He always provided us with recommendations for devotionals and Bible study materials, and he even had copies available at church for us to purchase. When I didn’t know where to start, this helped me develop a Bible reading routine that has become an anchor for my days. I don’t often use devotional books anymore, but you may find one to be helpful in certain seasons of life. I want to share with you a guide to devotionals that will help you know when a devotional might benefit you, what to look for in a devotional, and which devotionals I recommend.
WHEN TO READ A DEVOTIONAL
It’s far more important for us to know what God’s Word says than for us to know what someone else says about God’s Word. For this reason, I would encourage you to keep your devotion time centered around the Bible rather than on devotionals. However, there are three times when I believe that devotionals can be beneficial.
For Developing a Routine
I already mentioned that devotionals were especially helpful for me in developing a routine for reading God’s Word. If you don’t have a consistent Bible reading routine, a devotional may be helpful in developing one. Many devotionals have dates in them, so you’ll know exactly which passage to read on which day. Supposedly it takes twenty-one days to create a habit. A daily devotional might be just the thing that will help you create a habit of reading God’s Word.
To Find Encouragement in Hard Seasons
In the difficult seasons of life, we may just need some extra encouragement. God very well may use the insight and perspective of a devotional to give you the encouragement you need.
To Pause to Refocus on the Lord
In busier seasons, it may be helpful to read God’s Word more than one time per day. This may seem counterintuitive; if we’re busier, how will we have time to pause to read God’s Word more than once? Yet it is in these busy seasons that we often find we need God the most. This was especially true for me in my early days of motherhood. I found that it was helpful to take an extra pause in the day and read a short daily devotional to refocus my attention on the Lord. If you normally have your devotions in the morning, you might try doing this in the afternoon or evening. Or, if you normally have a quiet time later in the day, you may take a minute in the morning to read a devotional to focus your mind on the Lord for the day.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A DEVOTIONAL
There’s really only one question to ask when you’re choosing a devotional: is it based on Scripture? If a devotional is just someone’s nice thoughts, it isn’t really going to be beneficial. Scripture should always be the central focus of a devotional because God’s Word alone is able to speak hope into our lives.
WHICH DEVOTIONALS I RECOMMEND
Although there are many devotionals I could recommend, I’ll just list three here. If you need further recommendations, check with your pastor or a leader in your church. I’m sure they would love to recommend their favorites as well!
MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST
This classic by Oswald Chambers is my all time favorite. I read it for the first time in high school, and I’ve probably read it a total of three times over the years. I’m sure I’ll read it again at some point. It has a devotional reading for every day of the year, it’s Scripture based, and its content remains relevant, even though it was originally published in 1927.
A WORD TO THE WISE
This is a devotional I read in my college years. Within its pages, Paul Chappell shares the wisdom found in the book of Proverbs. It has a reading for every day of the year followed by a practical application for your daily life.
ENCOURAGEMENT FOR WOMEN
This is a new release that I finished reading recently. It’s a compilation of thirty devotional readings written by women just like you and me. It’s practical, relatable, and, true to its title, encouraging.
I hope this guide will give you some ideas for how to practically use daily devotionals as you grow in your walk with the Lord. Is there a devotional that has been a special blessing to you? Tell me about it in the comments!