Devotions – A fabulously “Christian” word we use more than we realize. Outside the Christian world many wonder what we even mean. It’s been a topic on my mind lately as I have given a “devotion” or asked others to do the same. Some, having never done so, no doubt struggled with what that was supposed to look like.
I was curious so I looked up the definition. Here is what Webster had to say:
b : an act of prayer or private worship —usually used in pluralduring his morning devotions
c : a religious exercise or practice other than the regular corporate worship of a congregation
Daily devotions have been a part of the Christian life since at least the Middle Ages. They were opportunities people took during the day to focus on Christ, His life and sacrifice, and how those things applied to their lives. Many of them used icons or other symbols and eventually even had their own copy of the text (their very own Bible).
At points in history, this devotional time was also called the “Daily Office.” It always makes me think of work, but truly it is a responsibility of believers to make time to spend with the Lord. It is definitely worth the effort. Included in these daily times with the Lord are Scripture reading, prayer (both the listening and the talking), and possibly some journaling or writing of sorts, but mostly it is a time to be still and just “be” with the Lord.
In our culture today, though, devotions have two meanings. They are our personal time with the Lord, but we have also used the term to define opportunities to share with a group (large or small) a snippet of what the Lord is teaching us. We hear devotions at Bible study and in small groups mostly, but they are not limited to these times. It is simply an opportunity to verbalize what the Lord has been speaking internally to us in the hopes of it encouraging and teaching others.
Lately, I have run into a few folks who have never had the occasion to give a devotion. When the invitation comes, we can feel intimidated or fearful, but also really have no idea what that is supposed to look like or how to put our thoughts together. Today, I would like to provide some guidance in just this area, because truth be told, if we have spent time with the Lord we all have something to share.
How to give a devotion:
- Spend time with the Lord – if we are not learning and growing we have nothing to share because He is truly our source.
- Start with Scripture – what is one Scripture (either a verse or group of verses) that the Lord has used to speak to you? In looking at this piece, please consider context. Read the verses before and after. This can be where many folks slip up as the take a verse out of context and simply use it for an unintended purpose.
- Determine a statement – what is the one thing the Lord has been teaching you through this verse(s). This “one thing” will be what you will share with others.
- Practical Application – people love to hear how this Scripture and statement tie into real life. How has it impacted you? How has it made a difference? How can I apply it to where I am? All questions that can be answered here.
- Pray – pray before you plan, asking for the Lord’s guidance but also take time as you give your devotion to pray. Conversation with the Lord is never a bad thing and this is a great way to close out your devotion. Closing is one of the most challenging parts to a devotion.
These are some simple tips for when you have an opportunity to share what the Lord is doing in you. You can add some other things like objects/visual aids, a short interactive piece like asking a question to start or having them write something down, etc. I would suggest a time limit of no more than 15 minutes. Most of the time when folks ask for a devotion they like it to be a round 10 minutes in length. It is okay to have a friend or multiple friends come over and listen to you give it to check time frame, give feedback, etc. Super helpful.
I know this seems like a lot, but at the end of the day sharing a devotion is simply sharing what the Lord is doing in you.
These are great opportunities to step out in brave obedience and use your story to encourage and help others in theirs. As scary as it can be, unless the Lord gives you a definite “NO” I would encourage you to take opportunities to share your Jesus with the world.
Questions for y’all:
- Have you ever given a devotion?
- If given the opportunity today to give a devotion, what would you share about what the Lord is teaching you?
Living for real –
I have found some resources, mostly for writing devotions, but nonetheless helpful in thinking through devotions as we have the chance to share.