I am generally very good at doing my devotions every night, but sometimes I end up doing them without thinking. I once challenged myself to complete a Read-the-Bible-in-a-Year study. Well, I did quite well in the way of completing it, but do I remember it? I was just checking the verses off. I was succeeding. But did it do me any good? What is the purpose of my goal if I attain nothing from it? Isn’t the Bible supposed to be a “lamp to my feet and a light to my path?” (Psalm 119:105) If I don’t remember it, how will it light my path? So I tried to take is slower. I stopped looking at the dates, instead of reading three different passages each evening I read one. Well, this helped slightly. I was doing better, but was I understanding, was I meditating on it?
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1: 1-2 (emphasis added.)
Isn’t that what we are called to do as Christians? Not to just read the Bible, but gain knowledge and wisdom from it? To learn from it! When I was in school and reading a text book, did I just read it to get it done? (Well, maybe. 🙂 Sometimes.) I read it to learn, to be able to answer questions about what I read, to take a test on it. Isn’t the Bible much more important to my life than a school textbook? Then I was given a weekend devotional written by Donald Whitney. (Tabletalk October 2011) It was entitled The Gospel and Journaling. Whitney said a few things that really helped my dilemma. “As opposed to the kind of daily experience with the Bible in which we pass our eyes for two seconds over each verse on the page, not remembering a think we’ve read, journaling can help us to slow down for a few moments and actually think about and absorb the passage we’ve just read.” He goes on to explain how writing things down clarifies our thinking. Just like in school when you think you know or understand a subject until you have to explain to to someone or write it down.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? So now I have a journal. I am going through Psalms, slowing down and thinking about what I am reading. I use a study Bible and read the notes to help engage me. And I also don’t leave my devotions to the two minutes before I go to sleep. I am not that clear-headed in the morning so I still do my devotions before bed, but I give myself more time and do it earlier. How can I think and meditate on it if I’m too tired to think? And you know what, my devotions have made more of an impact in my daily life. Because I remember and recall what I have read. James 1:25: “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” (emphasis added.)
So, slow down and think. And be blessed by the Word of God.