As a start for developing a closer relationship with God, I decided that I wanted to try daily devotionals and Bible reading. I considered finding a devotional guide, but instead decided to begin by simply reading the Bible for myself. I thought about finding a daily devotional guide, but chose instead to start my devotional readings by simply reading the New Testament and letting God speak to me as He determined not as some other person might have been inspired.My decision was partially based on a need for this to be a personal journey and a knowledge that many people who attempt to read the Bible begin at the beginning and get discouraged when they reach the histories of the Books of Law. And, as a Christian, I believe the importance of the New Testament speaks for itself. This was a particularly difficult task for me. Choosing a time to read regularly and coupling it with prayer for understanding and meditation to determine the meaning of the scriptures was very difficult.
I discovered that the first thing in the morning was not a good time for me to try to read my Bible. Too often, I was overly tempted to hit the snooze button and often did not find my concentration level where it should be to really understand the scriptures, even though most of it was familiar territory. I then tried to do my devotional reading at the end of the day and found that too was a bad idea. Some days exhaustion seemed to bull me away from my studies in an untimely manner and I decided that too was a bad time. Instead I chose to set aside an hour every morning just before lunch.
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This seemed to be the best time for me to be able to devote my attention to the Bible and not be distracted. I set an alarm to let me know when I could be done and then tuned out all distractions. In the three weeks, I managed to read through all of the gospel of Matthew and get started in Mark without feeling like it was a chore. As the time wore on, I found myself looking forward to my daily devotional more than I had in the beginning and found it was easier to maintain once I found the appropriate time. Intercessory prayer as a devotional tool also appealed to me.
Like many churches, the church I grew up in had a prayer chain devoted to praying for those in need. Remembering the peace and joy that came from praying for another person without any goal or personal motivation lead me to choose intercessory prayer Practicing this devotional method reminded me of the need to be more worried about others than I am about myself. I thought this was going to be my favorite devotional form, but I found that it wasn’t. Too often it felt like I was pushing my will onto God instead of allowing His will to work through me.
The other two devotional forms I chose were praise singing and random good deeds. These are the two forms of devotion which I believe had the biggest impacts on my life. I chose to do my devotional singing while in the car. I turned off the radio and began singing hymns in the car and immediately noticed a change in my attitude. I was no longer as willing to spout off angrily at other drivers, no longer feeling the need to drive unreasonably fast and no longer impatient in traffic. Changing my heart through song made my daily commutes easier and relieved tension in my life.
I found myself with an sincerely improved attitude and a greater desire to praise God for the miraculous things he was working in my life and int eh world around me. The author says that the practice of doing good deeds simply for the sake of doing them is a good thing because it reinforces the image that we want non-believers to have of Christians. I found that the biggest impact it had on me was that this is a manner I believe Christians should act in. By committing daily random acts of kindness I felt better about myself.
I felt that I was behaving more the way that Christ would want me to behave. My random acts of kindness included letting others go first in the grocery line and putting coins in parking meters. Finally, last week, I also purchased a small quantity of stuffed animals and placed them randomly on the windshields of cars at the doctor’s office. I believe that the act may have helped just one other person to get through a rough day and that is what God has called each of us to do. These actions are things that I will continue.
I believe that the daily Bible readings will be the most difficult to consistently maintain, but I also believe it may be the most important for my continued spiritual growth. The praise singing and random good deeds are easy to maintain because they have an immediate uplifting effect. The Bible reading requires the biggest commitment, but a better understanding of God’s purpose for me should be found in His word. I believe that the intercessory prayer is also going to continue to be a part of my life, though I am interested in determining how I can best pray without feeling like I am placing demand on my Lord.
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