They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. While I prefer to start most mornings with my standard three eggs scrambled and a cup of coffee, I must respectfully disagree with this popular sentiment. The single most critical meal you and I should consume on a daily basis consists of a focused time with God in His Word and in prayer (Ps. 1:1–2).
Yet, despite how much you and I need a consistent devotional life, many of us struggle to keep up. We start more Januarys than we care to admit fired up by the grand plans of reading through the entire Bible over the course of the year, but more often than not we fry out somewhere in the middle of yet another sacrifice in Leviticus.
Why this constant swing from enthusiasm to apathy? When I think about my own experience and the experiences of those I have pastored over the years, I believe that the quality and consistency of our daily time in God's Word rises and falls based on our remembering why it matters in the first place.
The truth is, pursuing God through prayer and time in His Word is not always easy, fun, or natural for us. It takes effort and discipline. If you are like me, effort and discipline are short-lived when you forget the why that motivates what you are called to.
The Bible is filled with rich motives for making our devotional lives a priority, but for brevity's sake, allow me to remind you of three.
God's Word Reveals God's Will
As a pastor, I regularly counsel people who are trying to discern the will of God. For this I am very thankful. I am thankful that most Christians are sincerely concerned with honoring God in their decisions and day-to-day lives. Sadly, too many Christians complain of their desire to know the will of God with a closed copy of the Word of God by their side. Psalm 119:105 says, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." We have to break open the Book.
What a gift that God has not left us to mere speculation but in fact has blessed us with the revelation of His will in His Word. Our paths will be straighter and our decisions will be stronger if we prioritize regular meditation on the Bible. Few things will keep you fired up to dig deep in the Scriptures like knowing that through it God reveals His will.
God's Word Reminds Us of Our Sin
In Romans 7:7, Paul reminds us that "if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin." Scripture shines a light on what is truly in our hearts and lives.
In our living room, we have an old dresser that is filled with our kids' toys. This particular dresser looks great—until we open the blinds and let the sunshine hit it. The sun reveals every bump and bruise that many years of use have inflicted upon it. The light reveals what is truly there. Scripture has that same effect in our lives.
I cannot remember a time spent in the Word and in prayer when I did not walk away convicted of some specific shortcoming in my life. Every time I read, I am reminded of God's holy and perfect standard and my complete inability to live up to it. This regular reminder of my sin helps my humility and keeps me dependent upon His grace.
God's Word Revives Our Hearts
I need reviving on a regular basis. Coffee has a way of reviving my mind in the morning. Sleep has a way of reviving my body at night. A good laugh with a great friend has a way of reviving my emotions. But only God's Word by the power of God's Spirit has the power to revive our hearts—the very seat of all we are.
In Psalm 119:50, the psalmist prays, "This is my comfort in my affliction, that your word has revived me." The sum total of Scripture points us to who Jesus is and what He has accomplished on our behalf through His life, death, and resurrection. The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to fill our hearts afresh with love, joy, peace, patience, and the rest of the fruit He has promised us (Gal. 5:22–23).
Do not miss another opportunity to get on your knees, open God's Book, and beg Him to revive your heart in the way that only He can.
Clearly, there is no shortage of reasons why our devotional lives are important, and my guess is that little of what I've shared thus far comes as a surprise to you. Unfortunately, familiarity does not necessarily guard us from the legalistic motives that lurk in the dark corners of our hearts. Motives matter. Why you do what you do is just as important as what you do.
Prayer is never a price we pay to put God in our debt. Bible reading is never a means of meriting the approval of God. We do not build a devotional life so that God will love us. We build a devotional life because, in Christ, God already does love us. If your devotional life degenerates into attempts at pandering for the favor and approval of God, you are devaluing the beauty of God's grace in Christ.
Make no mistake, your devotional life is of the utmost importance. But motive is everything. If you build it for the wrong reasons, the very thing meant to be a means of God's grace in your life will become a crushing burden that will rob you of joy. Be reminded today of why your devotional life is of so much importance and that we pursue God in devotions because He has first pursued us.