A Christian-ese to English Dictionary: ‘Devotions’

Bible reading

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Examples of Use: “I am going to go do my devotions”; “In my devotions today, I read about Jesus walking on the water.”

What it means: This is a word used to describe the time we spend with God, reading the Bible and praying to Him. Matthew 6:6 describes it this way: “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” It is a time when we are absolutely alone with God and really asking Him to search our hearts and to teach us more.

This time with God is vital to our faith. It is something a lot of Christians struggle to find time for, yet if we aren’t in the Bible and aren’t talking with God, how are we supposed to find the guidance to make it through this world?

A relationship with God is just that – a relationship. It isn’t something that just grows without any work. When you accept Jesus’s gift on the cross, you are absolutely saved, but then to expect to grow while filling your mind and heart with things other than God? It doesn’t make any sense.

People throughout the Bible had times of devotions that were specifically mentioned, including (but not limited to) the people listed below:

– Jesus (Mark 1:35, Mark 6:46, Luke 5:16, Luke 6:12, …)
– David (Psalm 19, Psalm 119, many Psalms are David’s prayers…)
– Daniel (throughout the book of Daniel)

Why we use it: This word isn’t actually in the Bible anywhere. The acts that go along with it are, but this word that encompasses that idea was made up much later. So why “devotions?”

Well, I first turned to the Merriam-Webster dictionary for some answers. “Devotions” was listed, and it was defined as “prayer, worship, or other religious activities that are done in private rather than in a religious service.” That pretty much sums up everything we’ve said so far, but it doesn’t give us much insight into the why. Then I noticed that “devotions” was listed as a subcategory to the word “devotion.” That made sense. So I read what it said about “devotion”: “a feeling of strong love or loyalty” or “the use of time, money, energy, etc., for a particular purpose.”

Those give much more insight into the “why?” of the use of this word. The reason we spend time praying or reading the Bible, other than growth, is that we have strong love and loyalty toward our God. When you love someone, you want to spend time with them, and by using our time spent with the Lord, like the second definition suggests, we are proving to ourselves and to God that He is a priority in our lives.

More Thoughts: Do you have a set time for devotions? I know that for me, throwing it in haphazardly throughout the day doesn’t work at all. I think to myself that I’ll do it later, that I don’t have time, that I’m too tired… whatever will work as an excuse. I have to list specific times that I will put everything aside, both literally and figuratively, to focus on God and His Word. Let me tell you, it is HARD. But, when I do it, my whole perspective on my day changes. Instead of thinking through the problems and getting wrapped up in my day, I get wrapped up in God and His thoughts and even His perspective on my day. I really encourage you to set aside a time like that too.

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