New Year’s Resolutions: We make them, we break them. Year after year, same old stuff: Lose weight, Get to Bed on Time, Save Money. Why would I do this to myself? If I know in advance (based on previous experience) that these goals are just not going to work out, why bother? I’m just setting myself up to feel badly about myself by February.
This is why I think that Just What You Need this month is one resolution that will make a huge impact in your life from the day you start it. A resolution so serious that failure is not an option: Resolve to connect with God daily. If you don’t have this as a habit already, resolve to spend five minutes a day in prayer and reading. If you already have this as a habit, up the ante and add time or a new dynamic to your daily devotion.
Only 10 percent of Americans attend a weekly worship service, so I assume that most of the readers are in that camp, and probably also don’t have a daily devotional time. Here are some practical tips to starting and keeping up a daily connection to the Creator.
1. Pick your time and place wisely. If you know you’re rushed in the morning, don’t try to add this to an already hectic routine. If you know you’re always dead-dog tired at night, don’t fight sleep to talk to God – sleep is a worthy opponent. Instead, pick a time and place that’s conducive to success. It should be some time you have every day. Have to walk the dog? Commute to work? Get a ten-minute morning break where you can be alone? All of these are decent times to devote to God.
2. Pick your materials wisely. If you’re devoting time at home, you can read from a regular Bible. Get a good one – not the King James Gideon New Testament you got in school. Get a modern translation like New International Version, and consider getting a study Bible with life applications. Devoting time away from home? You need God’s word on the go then. How about downloading MP3 scripture? Get a daily devotional texted to you or e-mailed to you. Too high tech? Then take along a compact version of the scriptures or a devotional paperback. There’s no substitute for the Bible, but many devotional books include scripture and commentary that help in your understanding of the scriptures. If you have an issue you need to work through, look for a devotional book that addresses that need. There are tons of books broken up into doses you can digest in 5 minutes.
3. Don’t give up. Just like any resolution, you’ll have setbacks – maybe even days in a row of getting off track. Just hop back on track and keep plugging away at this. What at first may seem like a discipline, in time will grow to be an essential part of your daily preparation.
4. Keep it meaningful. Don’t let your daily God time become routine. You wouldn’t call your mom and have the same conversation with her every day, would you? Then don’t treat your Heavenly Father that way either. If the materials you’ve selected for devotion aren’t “working for you,” try something else.
Spending daily time with God is the single most important thing you can do to improve your life. There is no problem – weight, debt, time management or other – that cannot be resolved through prayer.
This year, forget everything else, and fully resolve to connecting with God daily.
“I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I will not neglect your word.” Psalms 119: 15, 16b
8 Quick Devotion Picks (Free where noted)
8. Girlfriends in God. Free daily devotion for women sent to your inbox
7. 7 Minutes with Jesus: Daily Devotions for a Deeper Relationship (one in a series of 7-minute books)
6. E-Word Today. Receive via e-mail or on your e-mail enabled phone. A free service.
5. Living God’s Dream for You: An Extraordinary Women Devotional
4. The World English version or the New International version of the Bible on MP3 – free downloads!
3. On My Own Now: Straight Talk from the Proverbs for Young Christian Women who Want to Remain Pure, Debt-free and Regret-free in paperback and MP3 (Lord, it’s hard to be humble…)
2. The Message
1. The Narrative Bible in Chronological Order (NIV)