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Why I Stopped Doing my Devotions

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I am tired of doing my devotions.

I used to be so good at it too. Getting up every morning, opening up my devotional book, reading a chapter, praying to God, Amen-ing. I got it down.

I would do it in record time. Psh, you couldn’t beat me even if you tried.

But I’m not going to do it. Not anymore.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not giving up on God. In fact, since I’ve stopped doing my devotions, I have actually grown in my relationship with Him. Bet you will too!

Let me explain myself before I get stoned.

If you grew up in a good Christian household with good Christian parents, chances are that your parents would have educated you on the importance of doing your devotions. You also may have heard it from the pulpit of your pastor, the lectern of your religion teacher, or the felt-board of your Sabbath School teacher.

“Do your devotions, Kevin” they said. “you need to do it” they said.

As a boy growing up in Sri Lanka, my view of God was influenced by the religiosity of Buddhists and Hindus that permeated my society. This religiosity was underpinned by their ardent devotion to their respective deities. Both Hindus and Buddhists had to do their devotions in order to receive blessings.

One’s capacity to receive blessings was directly related to one’s devotional life.

So when they encouraged me to do my devotions, I understood it as a necessary prerequisite for receiving blessings. Driven by a need to prove to God that I was worthy of his blessings, methodically and systematically I went through the step-by-step process of getting up, opening the book, reading from it, and praying the prayer. It was the same process every day with the same amount of reading, the same amount of time, and the same prayer.

And I was faithful. Faithful to the ritual.

I was faithful because I thought I had to do my devotions in order to feel validated about my spirituality. I was faithful because I thought it was something I had to do to belong even if I didn’t feel anything good. I was so faithful because if I didn’t do it, I would not be accepted by God.

I was so faithful in doing my devotions because of my misplaced, misinformed view that I had to prove something to God in order to qualify for His grace.

Doing my devotions was my bartering for the salvation of God.

I came to this realization last year after studying theology for four years and being a Christian for twenty three. So I stopped doing my devotions and chose to do something else instead.

I stopped doing my devotions…and started to spend time with Jesus.

The Lord progressively changed my mindset about doing devotions. I came to a realization that there is nothing I can do make God love me more or less. I understand now that God’s love for me is not dependent on my love for God. This revelation of His character frees me from pleasing God through my insipid devotions, while at the same time, frees me to spend that time enjoying His presence.

I didn’t have to do devotions anymore. I just wanted to spend time with Jesus.

With the exception of reflective bible reading and prayer journaling, my routines have not changed much. But every time I wake up and open my book and bible, the experience is different. Good different.  Now I look forward to meeting my Lord and Savior. This is a time I learn from Him and listen to Him. This is a time I allow God to tell me more about me and him. This is a time when we converse as friends.

This is a time I get to enjoy Him for Him. No strings attached.

Maybe you are struggling with doing your devotions. If you are, may I suggest that you begin to think differently about it. Consider these sacred moments as your special, uninterrupted, intimate time with God where you are just… real with him.
Ask God to recalibrate your mind and retune your heart. As your thoughts begin to inform your words and your words begin to influence your actions, you will begin to enjoy your morning time with God.

Don’t do your devotions. Spend time with Jesus instead.

Besides, Jesus never asked you to do devotions for Him. He just asks you to be devoted to him.

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Nelson Fernandez

Nelson serves as a pastor in a growing in a bilingual and multicultural church district in Greenville, South Carolina in the Carolina Conference. He is married to the love of his life Sarah, who is Venezuelan and American. Born and raised in Miami, FL, he is a second-generation Hispanic of Dominican-Salvadorian decent. He loves reading, learning and blogging about leadership, church growth, discipleship and practical Christianity at www.nelsonsblog.com

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