Thoughts on the practice of daily devotions

The history of my practice of daily devotions is varied to say the least.  Most of the time, it has involved a year-long book, which can be used from one year to the next.  Occasionally, it has included using time sensitive materials; and once it was even as chaotic as opening the Bible and picking something out that looked good.

So it is perhaps appropriate that today it is a mixture of these previous practices.  In the morning, I read the Higher Things Reflection and pray Martin Luther’s Morning Prayer; in the evening I use the Treasury of Daily Prayer, almost always reading everything assigned for the given day, and then praying the Apostle’s Creed, Lord’s Prayer, Luther’s Evening Prayer, and a personal prayer of varying petitions, sometimes organized, sometimes not.

Now I have included some specifics, but not all, as to what I do in the morning and evening.  And that is intentional, because while I use the Higher Things Reflections, I do not use them as perhaps another person would, or as the devotional itself would suggest; and while I use the Treasury of Daily Prayer, my method of reading it is not how others would use it.

In short, my current practice of daily devotions has been arrived at not because this is how I was taught, but more because this is how I backed into, and sometimes stumbled into it, after experimenting with other devotionals and practices.  And to be honest, my method has changed and will continue to change as the years go by.

But while everyone will develop their own pattern of doing daily devotions, there are some dangers in the road.  One thing that I have discovered is that devotionals are a tricky thing, because they are designed in a way that one person thinks is brilliant, but another very well might find absurd.  Time sensitive devotions have many benefits, but so too does the use of a single devotional year after year.

Despite the variety, there are some things that would be good for the devotional practice of everyone, such as praying the Lord’s Prayer and reciting the Apostle’s Creed.  On the other hand, a reading from the Church Fathers may not be beneficial to everyone; and the singing of a hymn may not always be a regular practice.

The solution is not teaching one how you do daily devotions, but rather establishing some suggestions and outlines that one could follow.  Because the truth is that it is not easy to establish a practice of daily devotions; and when one looks at the mountain of resources and the even more intimidating mountain of ways in which devotions can be done, it is easy to become discouraged and give up entirely.

Ultimately, the answer to establishing the practice of daily devotions is not establishing laws and structure, but rather recognizing the need to do them, and then building from there.  Once one is convinced of the need to do daily devotions, then they can begin with a simple structure and add to it from there.

About revschmidt

An LCMS Pastor in North-Central Kansas
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