New Year Devotional Commitments

January 1 will be here before you know it and with it New Years resolutions. Many people can tell similar stories about their bold resolutions to read through the Bible in a year ending in defeat. Here are some suggestions for getting off to a good start and making progress in your devotional time.  These suggestions are meant to be directed primarily at people who are starting at ground zero, very inconsistent and unfocused devotional life.

1.  Remember the goal. The goal is to have fellowship with God.   Prayer and Bible Study are tools to help you grow closer to Him, not goals in and of themselves.  If you forget that, even if you are more disciplined than some, you may not experience the kind of meaningful communion you desire.

2.  Keep it simple, talk to God and hear from God consistently.   We talk to God as we pray, we hear from God in His Word.   It can happen in a formal/scheduled time as you work through an agenda or it can happen informally throughout the day (ideally both)

3.   Be reasonable. You should try to have a reasonable plan for hearing from God in His Word.  Depending on where you are, perhaps you shouldn’t start by trying to read through the whole Bible in a year.   If you are just getting started, I would suggest picking one book of the Bible and just read a little bit every day.  If you would like to be more aggressive in your Bible reading commitments there are some electronic tools to assist you.

    • Crossway has links to several different plans with the ESV, the translation I use on Sunday Morning.
    • Emailed Plans.  BiblePlan has 13 different options depending on how much and how fast you want to go.  You simply click on the plan, click on the version  you want, and submit your email.  Each day you will receive via email your reading for the day.
    • If you don’t want electronic help, you can buy a daily reading Bible.  Which is arranged according to daily reading.   I have a copy of the ESV Daily Reading Bible and its very helpful.

4.  Buy a good devotional book.  If you need a little more structure, buy a trustworthy day-by-day devotional book.   For devotionals I suggests one of these.

5.  Seek accountability. Communicate your goals or desires with a close friend of the same sex or your spouse, or your small group.  Ask for encouragement and accountability is your efforts.

It’s a bit cliche, but true, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.   If you are serious about growing in communion with God, have a plan.