Think Outside the Box

Can I make a confession? Digging into God’s Word on a daily basis is hard for me. I don’t typically wake up in the morning with a spring in my step, ready to dig into the Bible.

I’m not saying I don’t want to read my Bible. I’m just saying that it’s hard.

Even though I love God, I love His Word, I love learning, and I love growing in my faith, I still struggle to make it a priority day in and day out.

But here’s what matters most: I don’t let that stop me.

I don’t have the perfect personal devotional life, and I don’t think I ever will. But I want to do my best. I want to be faithful. I want to have an awesome relationship with God.

I bet you are trying your best, too. My hope is that today’s blog post will encourage you in your personal devotional journey. I want you to know that there isn’t a perfect step-by-step system that we have to follow. Depending on our personalities, schedules, and preferences, each one of our personal devotional times might look just a little bit different.

What’s the Point?

I love the advice Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth gives in her amazing book A Place of Quiet Rest:

Whatever approach you take to reading the Bible, don’t let yourself become a slave to the method. Don’t get so caught up in the mechanics that you miss the point.

So what is the point of our personal devotional time? Deuteronomy 6:5 gives us a great answer: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

We read our Bibles because we love God and we want to learn how to love Him more. When we learn to love Him, we will know how to live for Him. When our driving purpose in life is rooted in a deep and sincere love for God, everything else will flow from a Christ-centered motivation.

Purpose Over Process

My prayer is that we would focus more on the purpose of our devotions than on the process. When we lose sight of the goal (building a deep and meaningful relationship with Jesus), we forget why we are having devotions in the first place and we start just going through the motions.

Once I realized that my personal devotions don’t have to fit inside a perfect box, I felt so free to get to know God and to build a relationship with Him. Instead of trying to meet some unspoken expectation to have this “perfect” devotional time, I just started doing things that worked well for me. Here are a few of them. Feel free to use some of my ideas or come up with your own.

  • Focus on reading through one book of the Bible at a time.
  • Underline passages that stand out.
  • Always have a journal by your side during devotional time.
  • Journal prayers, thoughts, and meaningful verses.
  • Listen to worship music, and write down meaningful phrases as you listen.

A Recommendation (And a Freebie!)

As you consider your own approach to reading God’s Word, I want to highly encourage you to grab a copy of Nancy’s book A Place of Quiet Rest. It has been life changing for me in my understanding of a devotional time. Nancy gives us a peek inside the lives of wise women who have walked the walk and who have been faithful to God for years on end. These are women who truly love God with all of their hearts, souls, minds, and strength. They get the purpose of reading God’s Word, and it shows in their process.

Having the opportunity to peek inside their personal devotional time and hear what works for others and what doesn’t is a priceless opportunity. Seriously. Read the book if you can get your hands on it.

Log on to the giveaway widget below, and leave a comment for your chance to win a copy. Here are some questions we’d love to hear your answers to:

  • What do you enjoy doing for a personal devotion time?
  • What works well?
  • What doesn’t work well?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Author

Bethany Baird

After a brief experience in the modeling industry, Bethany’s eyes were opened to how self-absorbed and lost her generation of young women really are. She and her older sister were inspired to start a blog (www.GirlDefined.com) and wrote a book Girl Defined: God’s Radical Design for Beauty, Femininity and Identity. Their passion is to help young women find God’s truth about beauty and womanhood and the freedom that comes from living a radically different life for Christ.

HEY, GIRLS! We love hearing from you, but feel limited in the ways we can help. For one thing, we’re not trained counselors. If you’re seeking counsel, we encourage you to talk to your pastor or a godly woman in your life as they’ll know more details and can provide you with ongoing accountability and help. Also, the following comments do not necessarily reflect the views of Revive Our Hearts. We reserve the right to remove comments which might be unhelpful, unsuitable, or inappropriate. We may edit or remove your comment if it:

  • * Requests or gives personal information such as email address, address, or phone number.
  • * Attacks other readers.
  • * Uses vulgar or profane language.
  • Katie

    I can tend to fall into the category of going through the mechanics and not really having my heart in it. I LOVE studying and reading the bible but I really struggle to slow my mind and heart down and just talk with the Lord. I just started and ABC prayer list. I put names that start with that letter and I just pray through a different letter everyday as well as praying through the Lord’s prayer. As far as reading the bible I have been reading through the bible but not trying to get it done in a certain amount of time instead reading to understand and it has been amazing! The Lord has been teaching me so much!

    • Brit

      That is an AWESOME idea!! I am terrible at focusing in prayer, so that is a great idea. Thank you so much for sharing Katie. 🙂

  • Carly

    I looovvee my personal devotion time. I love listening to worship songs and journaling my prayers 🙂

  • Anna

    I typically will read through a book about a chapter a day that is on a topic or a passage. Then I read some scripture and pray. Sometimes I think it would be better if I could hold myself accountable more so that I wouldn’t cut the time short when I have a full day ahead.

  • I like following a reading plan on the YouVersion Bible app because my mind likes to wander when I’m reading. So when I follow a Bible plan, it makes me think, “okay, Tiana. You have to complete today’s reading. Just read it and check it off.” I personally can’t listen to worship music while I read the Bible because I’ll get distracted. It has to be perfectly quiet when I read and do my devotion.

  • Kaitlyn Moran

    I like choosing what topic or book I would like to study and see how the character leaned to the Lord and how they overcame their problem. It’s easy to write questions and answer them easy to put them into my circumstances. I find it really difficult to pray for others and not focus on myself.

  • Brit

    I enjoy just sitting there and talking to God. It’s hard being honest, but then again, He’s the easiest to be honest to, because He won’t run. I also love looking up certain passages, that I feel like He wants me to read. This week He lead me to Romans 3. . .and it’s just beautiful. His grace is so beautiful.

    You version devotionals work well, Daily verse works well, when it is set at a good time.

    What doesn’t work well is praying with your eyes shut late at night. I usually fall asleep.

  • Nikki Holloway

    Quiet time works best for me outdoors – open space and fresh air and seeing God’s creation causes a natural praise and worship to occur and is so invigorating!

  • Abby

    I love spending time in prayer, then reading my Bible, and if I have extra time, then reading a spiritual growth book. I like to do my Bible time early in the morning, before the house is up and moving. I like how it is quiet and often dark… because everyone else in my family is either sleeping or doing their Bible time! 🙂 Thank you for your wise words! When I really have extra time, I love reading biographies about saints of old. Learning about their stories and their walks with Christ are so inspiring! I especially love The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom and Through Gates of Splendor by Elizabeth Elliot.

  • Annie

    Because of TBI and Lyme disease, reading is actually really hard for me. Before all these health issues I read a lot and I found that I absorb more through reading. However, with these new challenges I’ve had to learn to be flexible. Last year I purchased a GoBible which is an MP3 player that has the entire Bible and you can search by not only chapters, but also by verses. I generally use this and to be honest, I still really prefer reading! I’ve had to trust God that listening to His Word is just as beneficial as reading it. And that He won’t let me miss anything!

  • I know that for me it’s easiest for me to do my bible reading during the day, usually mid-morning or late afternoon. I have a lunch break, so usually that she when. Then I write in my journal when I get home.

  • I know that for me it’s easiest for me to do my bible reading during the day, usually mid-morning or late afternoon. I have a lunch break, so usually that she when. Then I write in my journal when I get home.

  • Lily Thomas

    I try to just talk to God at night. I usually read a book or two, but I also try to talk to God regularly through out the day. I find that just welcoming God into my life and letting Him help me and guide me is one of the best bible Studies. But pretending to listen to God and not really is one of the worst ways to live your life.

  • Rachel Lee

    I enjoy reading a chapter or passage from the Bible and then reading either a devotional or book by a christian author. I love doing this first thing when I wake up so I can get my mind right with the word of God.

  • Annie Soultanakis

    I tried to comment on the giveaway but it wouldn’t let me post 😞. For my personal devotion time, I like to read scripture through my NIV, learning from each one and finding other scriptures that correlate. Sometimes I’ll put music on but I tend to like quietness so I can concentrate, but sometimes I have a hard time committing doing it daily. I let earthly things get in the way, and I need to get refocused. Hoping that the book might give me new insight to do a daily devotional but having it in quality time with the Lord. 💕

  • A

    I put on my mirror where my face would be a list of daily prayer requests, that I pray for such as our nation, my Pastor, chance that God will open the door for a coworker to bring up God or religion at work, & so many other daily requests. I choose to read each chapter of the KJV Bible in before another book. I put on His Armor to protect me, daily prayer requests, then my Bible reading at 5:50 am. At work I listen to hymns, that I sing at church, then I try to listen to a message that evening, then more reading from Word of God, prayer requests before I go to sleep. So much to be thankful for from people that were in my life for a season & much more. We live in a sin sick world. I prefer being on God’s side, than being on the world’s side or like the world.

    • Ally

      Amen! No matter what keep your focus on God & not on the things of this earth.
      Ally

  • Emily

    Something I’ve enjoyed doing especially for prayer is literally praying the scripture. The Psalms are especially good, just read a verse and pray whatever thoughts that verse put into your head. It’s a great way to stay focused during prayer and it gives a lot of biblical thoughts. So that especially works well for prayer!
    What doesn’t work for me is just reading a few chapters and then going on with the day. It then feels like a routine.
    This was a great post, Bethany! Thank you!

  • Auds

    I find my personal devotions unique to other people’s in many ways… It usually takes me a lot longer to get through a certain passage then it would for someone else. First, I always start with prayer. I need my time with God to start with Him, right? Next, because I am a fast reader and tend to skim, I use several different highlighter colors to highlight parts of the passage like key words, proper names, phrases that stick out to me, etc. This helps me to be looking more closely at the passage, and helps me to take it in more. Once I’ve re-read the passage a few times, I spend a few minutes thinking about any applications I find from that verse, and rarely do I find a passage that I can’t apply right off the bat. Then I spend my time in prayer, using the Lord’s Prayer as an example of how to pray. I pray through the passage I read, and address prayer requests and do my best to confess my sins before God (which I find to be one of the most hard yet beneficial parts of my devotions.) After I’ve prayed, I’ll usually continue thinking about the passage through the week, and more often then not, I’ll put a Bible Art Journaling entry in the separate Bible I keep just for that purpose. Thanks for this post!

  • Alanna

    I love writing down a list of things I’m thankful for, as well as difficulties I’m facing. It forces me to think of the good, while also handing over the challenges to God (:

  • Victorious gray

    I don’t really have a devotion time with God. 😞 I’m going to start reading he’s word more and more, the only problem is I can barely understand anything. I’m pretty new to reading the bible and I want to have a stronger relationship with God because I love hem very much and he helped me in many amazing ways. I feel like I can’t fully express my love for God because my family says I’m werid because I “pray over my food for too long.” I told them I feel like everyone doesn’t give enough time to God but they say “long prayers are only for night time” but the thing is I can’t really say my prayers at night because once I try to pray I fall asleep admeitly. Can you all pray for me? I’m struggling with procrastination and please also pray for my family so that they may seek Jesus Christ in their lives. I don’t have any do’s or dont’s as of now because I’m just starting to actually pick up my bible, thanks for the recommendations I’ll definitely try them. God bless everyone and this wonderful community! 💕

  • Victorious gray

    I don’t really have a devotion time with God. 😞 I’m going to start reading he’s word more and more, the only problem is I can barely understand anything. I’m pretty new to reading the bible and I want to have a stronger relationship with God because I love hem very much and he helped me in many amazing ways. I feel like I can’t fully express my love for God because my family says I’m werid because I “pray over my food for too long.” I told them I feel like everyone doesn’t give enough time to God but they say “long prayers are only for night time” but the thing is I can’t really say my prayers at night because once I try to pray I fall asleep admeitly. Can you all pray for me? I’m struggling with procrastination and please also pray for my family so that they may seek Jesus Christ in their lives. I don’t have any do’s or dont’s as of now because I’m just starting to actually pick up my bible, thanks for the recommendations I’ll definitely try them. God bless everyone and this wonderful community! 💕

    (Sorry for posting twice, had trouble getting into my account. 😅)

  • Deborah Winifred

    i enjoy worshiping with the guitar and praying works well… although I don’t pray in tongues, I try to speak some words because I know the Holy Spirit is in me and I will open the gift at God’s time 🙂
    Reading the Bible makes me sleepy and although I’m struggling with it, I won’t give up this easily…
    I know many of us feel this way and I pray that we don’t stay there forever, sleeping. 🙂

  • Emily Anderson

    What do you enjoy doing for a personal devotional time and what works well? I enjoy getting up to an alarm and then turning on Hillsong or something and reading a few verses or a paragraph out of the book I’m studying. I have highlighters and posit-it notes on hand along with my journal. I have a journaling Bible, but sometimes I’ll use the Bible app to cross reference or to read in different versions. I also use the Bible app to get a daily verse to think about. I will also pray or write out prayers. In November I’m currently writing out a list of things I’m thankful for in my diary. I really like to use devotionals in the summer from Sadie Robertson and Marjorie Jackson. I also really like the YouTube channel: “Coffee and Bible Time” for tips and motivation.
    What doesn’t work well? I personally can’t give my full attention to my Bible and Jesus if I’m listening to any kind of music in the background. So I only listen when I’m getting ready and afterwards. Also I try not to use my cell phone until I’m done getting ready, except to play my worship playlist on Spotify. Thanks Bethany!

  • J

    There’s a big difference between reading God’s Word and studying it. For several years, I’d read verses at a time and move on. The concept wasn’t wrong but I wasn’t able to see God in all His glory, nor was I able to understand authentic scope of His perfection, faithfulness, power and mercy. Looking back, my time with the Lord was about self-interest –me, my life, me, me and mine– rather than glorifying Him. I didn’t have much passion, instead it was a routine just so I can check it off my list of things to do for God. God is truly patient and forgiving and I am very thankful for that. I remember the day I said I was determined to study the person of Jesus Christ and not just read the same verses about him. I started with the Gospels and coupled it with commentaries from pastors such as John McArthur. I would research historical information for context. Bible reading out of context is a major danger. The Bible isn’t just miracles, it’s historical fact, it’s prophetic and it’s sufficient for life. Morning/evening devotions are merely empty motives apart from knowing the glorious nature of our God. Without an intent to study the Word, time with the Lord is an obligation rather than a priviledge. The internet is a gift in the way of information. There are great apps for Bible studying (John McArthur is a good one). There are also Bible teachers by the grace of God who teaches others to understand scriptures via internet.

  • Sherie Lynn Betances Vela

    Every morning I read verse of the Bible that encourages me to praise. I also have a journal were I write my thoughts and prayer for and my family. Lately I have been praying the psalms and it has made my prayer time more meaningful. However, I am going to school full time and also working and my personal time has suffered. I feel like I am always looking for the next easy, rigth thing to do for my personal worship. Many times I am too tired or discouraged to have my worship time. Still, I want to reconnect once again and find how to delight and joy while I am in his word. I know is a process,but I wNt to find freedom and joy while I spend time with the Lord.

  • Sam

    Heard in a message from my Pastor, something that I want to share with every one. The subjuct of the message was ‘Confronting Worry’! Pastor showed in Luke 12:22-34 & other areas in the Bible that is ALL that leads to sin! I am guilty of worrying, but with this message it brought peace showing that God is ‘Protecting Us’ if we face a closed door, being falsely accused of things, hurt emotionally by someone & you choose to forgive & move on, & etc. Many seek God when we face trouble, when He is with ALL the time. I can’t go a day with out spending it in prayer, reading, or listening to hymns, & yes, besides praying before I eat. I enjoy it when it’s quiet, because we can get distracted by things like whether someone likes our post or comments on it, replies to us, & etc. Read Philippians 4:6. While I am working I am praying for people in my life that are in difficult situations such as a coworker in need of heart surgery & is a Jehovah witness or any troubling situation we face. I know prayers I mention have been answered according to His Will. Some have not been answered as I wish, but it’s God’s Will that we should seek & always give Him praise for it. Distractions we face while having that quite time, witnessing, etc., are what I dislike so much! I am planning to get rid of social media for good. I’d rather give that time to God. I got a few years ago a gift that sounds like this book, but I have NO clue where it was bought to find a devotional for my Bible reading. We have so much to be Thankful for. Just like a few other people I had trouble logging in to enter. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 😊

  • erinleedavis

    Hey Girls!

    I love that this topic is something you want to talk more about. It is a LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com tradition that we always spend the month of January focusing on getting you into the Word and getting the Word into you.

    I’d love to hear your post ideas for how we can equip and challenge you to read God’s Word more in 2018. Leave them here in a comment and our team will see them and consider them as we plan January content.

    Rooting for you!

    Erin Davis

  • Alyssa K.

    I enjoy my quiet time SO much when I get into a quiet place and pray before I start, inviting God into this time and asking him to show me what I need to learn. It can be a short step, but it quiets my soul and focuses my mind for the sweet time with Jesus ahead.

  • His daughter

    In the morning I spend time reading the Bible, as well as time in prayer. I would like to have a better prayer life though.

  • Charis Chen

    Despite being a night owl, I find that it’s very helpful to get up early, before anyone in my family is up, and to just spend time in the Word with my journal, and not forcing myself to journal specifically on what I read, but just on anything that God is putting in my mind. Sometimes it’s hard to get into things, and even journalling prayers to God to draw me in again is a huge help! Also having time to just sit quietly to rest in Him is amazing!

  • Kayla

    Really appreciated this. This morning I was having trouble getting into devotions but this reminded me that it doesn’t always have to look the same.

  • Kat

    I haven’t gone to church in awhile; I want to start going again, but my mom always has work. Then sometimes I tell myself I am going to read the Bible every night and pray every night, I never do. I it’s like I am getting pulled away further and further.

    • It sounds like your heart is in the right place, Kat. The spiritual battle you are in is real! Having someone to hold you accountable to spending time in the Word and prayer may help you. Do you have a friend who could check in on you and ask you the hard questions about this? Perhaps you could catch a ride to church sometime with someone besides your mom when she is working. Please let your mom know that you are missing church and see if you can put your heads together to come up with some solutions. I’m praying for you right now asking God to give you some creative solutions to your heart’s desire!