My personal devotional life grows out of a strong desire to be with the Lord. My heart is confidently eased into His presence as I recall His promises: "Come near to God and he will come near to you" (James 4:8a). "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).
My time with the Lord is not a routine - it's a relationship.
Our younger granddaughter, nine-year-old Kennedy, was at our house. As I was about to leave for the nearby do-it-yourself car wash I asked her, "Kennedy, do you want to go with me to wash the truck?" She said, "Sure! Maybe we can make it a share day!" (A share day is any fun activity with Papa Norman and something good to eat.)
I drove in to the bay at the car wash and showed Kennedy that the coin slot required $2.50*. I asked her, "How many quarters does it take to make $2.50?" She looked up, squinted, counted on her fingers, and answered "10."
I said, "Would you like to put the coins in the slot?" "Sure" she said. She counted each quarter as she pushed it into the coin slot. Then she asked to hold the spray wand. When she pulled the trigger on the handle, the force of the spray was so strong it pinned her against the block wall! With absolutely no control she sprayed the ceiling and me; she eventually mastered her aim at the truck.
When that was completed I backed the truck out of the bay to dry it off with two old bath towels. Kennedy took a towel and started to dry off the truck. She had fun using the hand wringer to squeeze the water out of her towel.
It was enjoyable to be together. We created a lasting memory in about 20 minutes. When we got back to the house, I noticed there were water spots on the glass and the aluminum wheels weren't perfectly clean. But so what! My purpose wasn't a perfectly washed truck - it was to have a meaningful time with Kennedy.
Similarly, my personal times with the Lord are meaningful moments of being together.
These times always include reading a long passage of Scripture and praying through the verses, asking the Holy Spirit to apply them to my life. I listen. And as a kindergartener contemplative in common words and quiet tones I visit with God, my Abba Father.
It is a time when I submit to the sovereign authority of my Heavenly Father, who "in all things...works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28).
It is a time when I enjoy fellowship with Jesus, who says, "You are my friends if you do what I command" (John 15:14).
It is also a time when I sense the presence of the Holy Spirit, who "helps us in our weakness." We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express" (Romans 8:26). I discontinue being arrogantly impressed with my own opinions.
I've never written "devotions" on my daily To-Do list, like:
1. Go to the post office.
2. Stop at the bank.
3. Fill the car with gas.
4. Mow the lawn.
It's not motivated by false guilt and fear, as though I must "log-on," but out of an intense longing to be with the Lord and not miss the daily opportunity! "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:28-29).
Do I ever miss this daily time with the Lord? Yes, sometimes. But rarely. A strong desire to be with the Lord overrides laziness, apathy, and neglect and creates priorities, discipline, and avoidance of missed opportunities. It is not a routine. It's a relationship.
Norman Moore, a tenured evangelist in the Church of the Nazarene, lives in Long Beach, California.
*All funds are in USD.