“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”
This month in our midweek study, we are considering what it looks like biblically to Live Well. We have considered living well as it relates to our body and our environment. In this piece, let us take a moment to consider living well as it relates to our soul. We can call this Living Well: Devotionally. The purpose of the Living Well study is to consider practical biblical application. So, the question we will look at today is not so much the theology behind prayer and Bible reading (which is base Christian necessity and desire). Rather, the question then that will guide this piece is How? What does a well-lived devotional life look like? What are some guiding principles and helps as we look to enable our soul to live well?
Let us consider now the devoted life, well-lived:
Have you heard of a Christian saying, “I read the Bible more than I should,” or, “My prayer life is good, and I am actually quite pleased with the amount of time I spend in prayer each day…”? No, you have not. The reality is that we do not have the kind of devotional life before the Lord that we should. And, if we are really being honest, it is not even close. David, in the wilderness, said, O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water (Psalm 63:1). When you are thirsty, you are singularly focused on obtaining a glass of water. It means, you might have to do other things in your thirst, but as you do so, you will not stop thinking about how you will quench that thirst. And so it must be for the life well-lived devotionally. Our soul is desperately thirsty. It wants (if it is regenerate) and needs God. Yet, as we head to the junk food drawer in our hunger pains, so too do we “quench” our soul thirst with other devotions. Christian, a devotional life well-lived must first and foremost understand this. Our soul is thirsty. Our soul wants God. As such, other devotions impair our soul’s satiation and satisfaction in God. Christian, be committed to feed your soul on God – regularly, fully, daily, and resolutely.
Saints, how do we do this? First and foremost, we give God our first and foremost. This is the principle of returning firstfruits to God, which we see throughout Scripture (Deuteronomy 18:4; Proverbs 3:9; Romans 11:16). Generally, the devoted Christian has little problems here giving God the firstfruits to start their week on Sunday mornings, and some even the full Lord’s Day. Weekly, we give God the first and foremost of our week as we gather in corporate worship with the saints. However, firstfruits are not just offered weekly. Our weeks are filled with days. Days themselves are each filled with devotional potential; thus, you are called to give back to Him the first, the foremost, the best – the firstfruits – of your day. This certainly does mean that the first ‘to do’ you devote to upon waking is time with the Lord. This certainly means that you do not ‘check’ anything else before you first ‘check in’ with the Lord. This means you do not read any other ‘words,’ before you first read from ‘God’s Word.’ There are no excuses here. Christian, God gave you the day before you. Thus, the only appropriate and right response is to wake and give the firstfruits of your day to Him.
Yet, the principle of devotional firstfruits means more. It means you give God the best quality of your day. You may not be a ‘morning person,’ but if you are an ‘evening person,’ how are you giving God the best quality of your day? Yes, you start in a short prayer and a psalm as you are ‘still waking up,’ but later that evening, do you take your prime time to fully pray, read, and reflect on God’s Word? Christian, your day must be ordered around giving to God your first and foremost. He commands the firstfruits of your day.
A healthy devotional life is the product of intention. It is no surprise there is no sustaining the ‘reading plan’ that just seeks to pick the Bible up and flip to a passage randomly each day. Christian, you must be intentional about a well-lived devotional life. First, schedule and make a priority for prayer and Scripture reading each day. Accept no compromise here. Yes, we all have busy days, but adjust accordingly. Do not skip! If you have to wake up earlier or start something later, that is the right accommodation for time with the Lord. The night before each day, consider how much time you will have in the morning with the Lord and give Him the priority of your time. Plan. Schedule. Commit.
Secondly, organize your time. Yes, this means committing to an intentional reading plan and a regular calendar, or journal, of prayers. Does your mind wander in prayer? Write down your prayers. Better yet, plan ahead for the various praise and petitions you will give to the Lord. Praying for all your brothers and sisters at Westmount, our missionaries, and our unsaved family & friends is enough to fill a full month alone if you pray for a few names/households each day.
Thirdly, ask others how you can pray for them – do it, and follow up. We have all been convicted by saying to someone ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and then not doing so. Instead, ask how you can pray, note it (again, write it down) and then include in your prayers. In time, even a short, but sincere, ‘I have been praying for you,’ or a fuller ‘how is that petition going?’ not only demonstrates your love and care for the brethren, but also keeps you focused and intentional in your prayer life.
Westmount saints, let us not let our thoughts be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3). Our lives are lived by way of both body and soul. A well-lived devotional life means we quench our soul thirst in God, none else; we give the firstfruits of not just our weeks, but our days, to God; and that we are intentional in our devotions to God. Let us do so, and let us stir one another up to do so as well (Hebrews 10:24).