Ten Suggestions for Your Personal Devotions in 2019

So let’s get one thing straight at the outset: Setting aside time to be with God every day (“daily quiet time”) is not a biblical mandate. There is no chapter-and-verse command to pray and read your Bible every day. So let’s not let this be a matter of guilt-induced compliance with a phantom command from God.

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On the other hand, if you want to deepen your relationship with God, you will want to invest some time and effort into that.

Think of it this way: The farmer cannot make the crops grow. A healthy crop is ultimately a gift from God, and the farmer is helpless to make that happen. What the farmer can do, though, and what he must do if he wants a good crop, is invest in creating conditions conducive to crop growth. He must till and plant. God gives the increase, but the farmer must invest in the process.

Just so, it is the grace of God that not only brings us to repentance in the first place but also deepens and strengthens our spiritual lives. All of the spiritual disciplines (prayer, engaging with Scripture, meditation, cultivating relationships with non-believers, worshiping together with other believers, etc.) are the investment we make in making our hearts ready to receive what He wants to give us.

So is it necessary that I set aside time daily to be with God? No, there is no such command. But, yes, if I want to grow spiritually, this is something I must give attention to.

Tim Challies suggests ten different Bible reading plans for those who want to start fresh in the new year. Some are ambitious (reading the Bible through in a year), while others are more slowly paced. But when it comes to engaging with  God’s Word, the point is never quantity (how much you read or memorize) but quality (how deeply it affects your life).

Aim for life-change, not box-checking.

But one more thing: you may have noticed the caveats: “If you want to deep your relationship with God…” and “if I want to grow spiritually.” What if you’re not really interested? None of this advice matters if there is no desire to know God more intimately. What should I do if the problem is not my behavior but my heart?

I have a standing piece of advice in such cases: “Pray from where you are.” I would say “start from where you are,” but if your heart is not right, behavior-change is pointless.

If you find yourself in a spiritual slump, start there. Talk to God about that. Ask Him to change and warm your heart, as I so often find myself doing.

May God make 2019 a year that we send our roots down deep and “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”