It may only be November, but I am formally asking every member to start thinking about JANUARY! Oh, not about the cold and possible snow storms! Instead I am asking you to consider a few questions about how you grow your faith each day through study and prayer, and to consider how you will do this in 2020. My challenge to the people of Good Shepherd is that we ALL commit to engaging in a Daily Devotional and Prayer Practice in the coming year!
Okay, so maybe you are already doing this. Great! But please keep reading anyway! Or maybe this is one faith practice you are not doing these days. That’s okay, but I hope you will consider starting in 2020. For everyone, please take a few moments to reflect on the following questions:
Are you currently engaged in a daily devotional and prayer practice? If so, how is that going for you? Is it time to refresh your process? If not, think about why you haven’t been doing this. There may be many reasons or none. Maybe you just never started. Maybe your days are so busy you feel overwhelmed. Or maybe you simply forget and need a daily reminder. Think through your reasons, and identify what issues you face in this challenge.
Consider the TIME for this practice: A) what time of day you might want to choose; and B) how much time you might be able to give to this practice each day. These are really important questions. For myself, I have learned two things about time of day. The first is that I will be drastically more consistent in building something into my day if I do it at the same time of day – EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
Second, I have learned that if I don’t do this in the morning, I just won’t do it. I’ve tried evenings, but sometimes I am so tired I just fall asleep in the middle. So mornings it is. As for how much time to put it to it, I had to decide whether I was trying to REALLY learn and study deep things, or if I wanted to simply take time to intentionally set my mind and intention for the day towards God. These are two vastly different purposes, and require vastly different amounts of time. (So another question is: What are you hoping to get out of this practice?) Initially, I wanted to read the deep stuff, but found that my mind simply could not absorb it first thing in the morning, and that it took more time than I could give in the morning. Since I wasn’t willing to get out of bed an hour earlier, and can’t do deep thinking before (or even right after) breakfast, I decided that I would set aside 5-10 minutes each morning to set my mind on God for the Day.
What materials might you use in 2020? There are literally SOOOO MANY OPTIONS! So it is worth it to take some time (like the next 2 months) to explore a few and see what works for you. You can go with a “print” option like a devotional book, or a digital option like a daily email subscription or an app. Depending on your answer to question #2, you may want something long or something really short.
For 2019, I went with a book (yes, an actual book, that sits on my table) titled “365 Devotions to Love God and Love Others Well.” I really liked the title. I also really liked the fact that the devotion for each day was just ONE PAGE! Simple, short, to the point, and all focused on one thing for a year. I don’t always agree with the theology of the authors (it’s published by a different denomination – theology is something you may want to think about too!), but it has given me plenty to think about over the last 10 months.
e of my good friends has a daily email subscription from Moravian.org/daily_Texts/. These devotions are published by the Moravian Church (which is in Full Communion with the ELCA), and include short Bible readings, a brief devotional, and a daily prayer. The prayers are rich and beautiful.
Many of our members use the “Christ in our Homes” devotional booklets. Good Shepherd purchases a number of these and we leave them in the Narthex, outside the office door, for people to take home. These provide three months of short daily devotions with Bible verses and prayers in each booklet.
If you have been using the same materials for years, perhaps it is time for something new. Go to a bookstore, check out Google Apps, ask others what they use, or explore all three of these options. There are materials for men, women, or youth. There are publications from a variety of denominations, including Lutheran. And of course, there is always just reading a portion of the Bible each day.
As 2020 approaches, it is my hope that each of us will take time to plan for this important faith practice. My challenge to Good Shepherd is that in 2020, ALL of us will commit to taking time each day for devotional time, and that every committee, group, or choir that meets will do the same.
Please consider taking on this challenge!
Pastor Susan Lynch