Dennis Isbell Pastor Grace Baptist Temple, San Antonia, Texas
You can do a search and find a wide range of reasons why personal devotions are valuable. You would find the very simple to the 6 point outlines. I believe that we know the importance of the Word of God for our faith – Romans 10:17. And we know the importance of prayer to help us stay strong in the faith – Jude 20. These alone make our personal devotions valuable.
Now, I’m definitely not coming as an expert on this matter, nor as one who has always been consistent. I’m not a Type A personality. I don’t get up at 4AM and spend two hours in prayer and Bible Study, and then go to bed at midnight after a non-stop day. To be honest, I envy these types of people. So, for the rest of us, whose minds shut down around 10PM and we struggle to get awake enough to comprehend anything by 7AM, we need to see the value of personal devotions.
As a Pastor, for the last 28 years, I read to study. I look for the lessons and messages that the Lord would have me to bring to our folks. My personal times were hit and miss. I would jump around in my Bible reading. Oh, I would read the Bible through every year, but not with any type of order necessarily. I would go through different devotionals, like Morning and Evening with Spurgeon; Our Daily Bread; Family Time; and Days of Praise. But nothing has helped me more over these past several years than to read God’s Word through a schedule. To be honest, for a long time, my time in the Word wasn’t for personal growth; it was for those I was ministering to. I know we get the by-product. But I needed to do something different, so several years ago we provided three different reading plans: Genesis to Revelation; a Historical reading plan; and a Chronological reading plan. This has not only benefited me, but I’ve had more comments on how this has helped many in our church.
Now, my time is in the morning, and I purposely ask the Holy Spirit to keep me focused, to help me learn, and apply that portion of Scripture to my life. I have my cup of coffee and nothing else to distract me (I have enough going on in my mind). My personal time is valuable, not only for my spiritual life, but for those in our church family. You know, as well as I, that we can get spiritually drained with the genuine and sometimes ridiculous questions from our people. And, if we aren’t personally growing in the Word and seeing things we’ve “never seen before,” then we’ll react in the flesh, or we’ll give our “recorded memorized message,” and there will be no concern for God to be honored and glorified. We’ve heard it, we’ve taught it, and we’ve preached it: there’s value in time with the Lord, in prayer, and in His Word. We just need to do it, so we can be challenged and refreshed and reminded of God’s greatness. We don’t know it all, yet!