Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dear LadyLike: Daily devotions

Dear LadyLike,

Can I ask your gentle opinion, Christian women? Don't gasp... I don't often do a personally daily devotion/Bible reading. I go in streaks. I'm in an off streak--feeling sad that my Bible has become my "night stand". I'd like to do it in the morning, but find myself sleeping until I am awakened to an emergency every morning. I'd like to do it before bed, but find myself so very exhausted. During the day, I feel like I'm putting out one fire after another. And during "rest time," there's the bills to pay, school work to correct, laundry to fold. But, I feel guilty about it. At the same time, God is still feeding me. My husband reads the Bible aloud at breakfast everyday. Most days, I read a bible story to the children in conjunction with school. I have a bible verse calendar that I flip every day where I do dishes. There's church and Bible class. So, then I content myself to not have a personal devotion, thinking that there are seasons in life. I really don't know if contentment vs. guilt is Satan's temptation in my weakness, or the Lord's comfort for the weary. To some extent, I realize that thankfully, my need for God's Word will never be satiated, but how to balance everything in this world? I welcome your Gospel-centered discussion on this.

Dear Devoted Lady, 

Navigating the strait between a clear conscience and false guilt is always tricky. You have a lot of Word in your life, and you're also right that there's always room for more. At the same time, if it's OK for Christians to knit silly hats or go to elephant polo matches (and we think it is), it means that we don't have to devote every free minute to, um, devotions.

The center of Christian devotion is the Divine Service. Our most intimate access to God is in the Lord's Supper, where we are physically incorporated into His holy Body. This is our anchor for personal piety, and it helps us keep our perspective. Christian traditions in which the Lord's Supper is only symbolic have to look for divine intimacy somewhere else, and they find it in private prayer. That's how this whole thing has gotten confusing.

But prayer is still a duty of and a gift to every Christian. Jesus teaches us to pray for daily bread. This tells us that prayer is a daily event in the Christian life. Maybe your dilemma is also best faced on a daily basis. If there's ever a time in your day when it strikes you that a little push of Christian discipline might mean a few minutes for personal prayer and the Word of God, go ahead and push. If that time never comes, reflect on the Word that the Lord brought you that day in the normal life of a Christian family, and go to sleep at once and in good cheer.