Why I Stopped Doing My Devotions.

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I am tired of doing my devotions.

I used to be so good at it too. Getting up every morning, opening up my devotional book, reading a chapter, praying to God, Amen-ing. I got it down.

I would do it in record time. Psh, you couldn’t beat me even if you tried.

But I’m not going to do it. Not anymore.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not giving up on God. In fact, since I’ve stopped doing my devotions, I have actually grown in my relationship with Him. Bet you will too!

Let me explain myself before I get stoned.

If you grew up in a good Christian household with good Christian parents, chances are that your parents would have educated you on the importance of doing your devotions. You also may have heard it from the pulpit of your pastor, the lectern of your religion teacher, or the felt-board of your Sabbath/Sunday school teacher.

“Do your devotions, Kevin” they said. “you need to do it” they said.

As a boy growing up in Sri Lanka, my view of God was influenced by the religiosity of Buddhists and Hindus that permeated my society. This religiosity was underpinned by their ardent devotion to their respective deities. Both Hindus and Buddhists had to do their devotions in order to receive blessings. One’s capacity to receive blessings was directly related to one’s devotional life.

So when I was encouraged to “do my devotions”, I understood it as a necessary prerequisite to receiving blessings. Driven by a need to prove God that I was indeed worthy of his blessings, methodically and systematically I went through the step-by-step process of getting up, opening the book, reading from it, and praying the prayer. It was the same process every day with the same amount of reading, the same amount of time, and the same prayer.

And I was faithful.

I was faithful to the process because I thought I had to do my devotions in order to feel validated about my spirituality.
I was faithful because I thought it was something I had to do to merit the attention of God.
I was so faithful because if I didn’t do it, I would not be accepted by God.

I was so faithful in doing my devotions because of my misplaced, misinformed view that I had to prove something to God in order to be qualified to receive His grace.

Doing my devotions was my bartering for the salvation of God.

I came to this realization last year after studying theology for four years and being a Christian for twenty three. So I stopped doing my devotions and chose to do something else instead.

I stopped doing my devotions…and started to spend time with Jesus.

The Lord progressively changed my mindset about doing devotions. I came to a realization that there is nothing I can do make God love me more or less. I understand now that God’s love for me is not dependent on my love for God. This revelation of His character frees me from pleasing God through my insipid devotions, while at the same time, freeing me to spend that time enjoying His presence.

I didn’t have to do devotions anymore. I just wanted to spend time with Jesus.

With the exception of reflective bible reading and prayer journaling, my routines have not changed much. But every time I wake up and open my devotional book and Bible, I have a different experience now than in years past.

Because the focus has been on the relationship rather than a ritual.

Maybe you are struggling with doing your devotions. If you are, may I suggest that you begin to think differently about it. Ask God to recalibrate your mind and retune your heart. As your thoughts begin to influence your words and your words begin to inform your actions, you will begin to enjoy your time with God.

Don’t do your devotions. Spend time with Jesus instead.

Besides, Jesus never asked you to do devotions for Him. He just asks you to be devoted to him.

What about you? What have you done or are doing currently to enjoy your time with God? Leave a comment below!

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21 thoughts on “Why I Stopped Doing My Devotions.

  1. Lissette January 17, 2015 / 3:22 pm

    Very well written! Love the new concept. Spending time with Jesus is the best!

    • Kevin Wilson January 17, 2015 / 10:47 pm

      Thank you lichi! It’s been a learning process! 🙂

  2. werebearteacher January 17, 2015 / 11:44 pm

    I find that reconciling that the Jesus we can talk to like our closest brother completely informally in a safe environment, is the same Jesus who holds all power in the universe to create and give life that is a high priest and sits on the throne of God.

    But He doesn’t care what words we use or don’t use or the formal or informal way we speak. He is ever seeking us.

    Anecdote
    It reminds me of when I was dating my wife and we lived four hours apart. On some Sundays I would get up at 5 am to hop on a bus at 5:30am. I would doze on the bus and meet my girlfriend at the bus terminal around 10:00 am. We would eat lunch and talk, cuddle a little bit, read a bit. Then I would have to go back to the bus terminal by 4 or 5 pm for the 4 hr bus ride back to my city.

    I spent all my attention on my girlfriend because there was such little precious time. I loved to hear about her triumphs and wanted to help with her problems. I loved her so even small little texts about her day were nice. I was seeking her.

    In the same way Jesus seeks us. He loves us even more deeply than romantic love. He longs to give us blessings if only we just ask. He longs for us to spend time with Him. Not because He needs our time but because WE need HIS time. Without Jesus we have no life, no faith, no love.

    Anecdote
    Devotions remind me of a an old well pump on the campus of my boarding school. As a well pump you have to crank it for a good 15 to 30 seconds before water comes gushing out. The first 15 seconds you might get a few drops and a tiny trickle.

    Methodical ritual devotions are like pumping for just 5 seconds, taking the few drops of blessings and inspiration, and than being thirsty all day.

    But if we actually sit, talk, and listen to God giving Him our attention like a best friend, we will drink richly of the fountain. It can take some time but it is much more satisfying than the few drops.

    • Kevin Wilson January 18, 2015 / 12:23 am

      Sam! Wow. Thanks for those thoughts man. I really liked how you related your relationship with your then-fiance with this. I had a similar experience this break when I got to spend some time with my girlfriend. Every moment counted since we’d be doing long-distance again. And I REALLY like the old well pump analogy! Good to hear from you after so long my brother 🙂

  3. Andy B January 18, 2015 / 12:28 am

    Great post. Good take on it.

  4. John G. January 18, 2015 / 5:19 am

    Excellent post Kev! Love the concept of spending time with Jesus versus spending time just trying to “check” off our “Good-Christian” list.

    Before I use to try to fit God into my designated time slot, giving him some time in my busy day. However, as I read Scripture, it became clear that God wants to be part of every moment, every minute, every day. In my life, I had to realize that God is so much BIGGER than my time slot.

    After having this revelation, my relationship with God started to take new heights. I love what Matthew says in Matt 11, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:29-30)

    Blessings!

    • Kevin Wilson January 19, 2015 / 12:32 am

      “God is much bigger than my slot” pinterest that quote bro! Thank you for the comment bro. It’s really about a relationship.

  5. Allana January 18, 2015 / 10:26 am

    I felt the same, and I did the same.. I was super methodical with my devotion, but I decided to stop reading the devotion book, and the sabbath school lesson, and start to study the bible, and write what I’m discovering, what I´m feeling, being honest in a dally morning letter to God, if I’m talking with Him, if He is studying with me….

    • Kevin Wilson January 19, 2015 / 12:29 am

      AWesome! Prayer journaling works well for me too!

  6. Mark January 20, 2015 / 2:10 am

    Amen!!! I needed to see this!

  7. Carolyn Petty January 25, 2015 / 9:58 pm

    How did we (parents) miss teaching this absolutely vital truth to our children? Why are so many Christians sssslllllllloooooooooooowwllllllllyyyyyy finding that truth, that it’s not about us or what we do, but about His stunning love for us, unworthy as we are? Please forgive us old folks; maybe some of us are just learning it too, or maybe we simply assumed that our children would get it by osmosis. Whatever: I’m so glad you’re developing this relationship with Jesus. Pass it on!

    • Kevin Wilson January 26, 2015 / 1:39 am

      Carolyn! Thanks for the comment. I think our parents did know what they were doing in that they taught us how to make this a habit. But at some point I should probably explain why that matters to him/her. You are doing a good job! Thank you! 😀

  8. Mary Jean February 20, 2015 / 8:03 am

    Thanks for this page .. i’m struggling in my devotion and i’m looking for something to read.
    I typed ” what if i stopped my devotional? then I came to this page and your article is true,
    our relationship w/ Jesus is not a ritual, it must be enjoyed .. God bless you !

    • Kevin Wilson February 20, 2015 / 5:47 pm

      Wow! thanks for being here Mary! Yea, it’s easy to make our relationship with God a ritual. Rituals could be good, but if they are done at the expense of a relationship, then we might be missing the point.
      I’ve realized it’s about being honest and transparent with God while being open to him and patiently waiting on him by FAITH. He will be there for you 🙂 Come back again! 🙂

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