Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

Index by Subject

Devotions, Devotionals, Devos

Image It is typical of the young to have their own lingo. It is a way of differentiating themselves from older generations. In the 1920’s if a teenager managed a ride in a breezer (convertible), then everything was copacetic (wonderful). In the 1930’s a Joe (average guy) was ecstatic with a sawbuck ($10 bill) in his pocket. In the 1940’s khaki wacky (boy crazy) girls sometimes flipped their wigs (lost control of themselves) when a cute boy walked by. In the 1950’s an ankle biter (child) might go ape (get excited) over a piece of candy. In the 1960’s it wasn’t hip (acceptable) to hang out (spend time with) the old man (your father). In the 1970’s it was a bummer (depressing) if someone was bogarting (being selfish with) the TV. In the 1980’s an enjoyable time was totally (completely) gnarly (very good). In the 1990’s, however, the same enjoyable time was all that and a bag of chips. In the 2000’s, one person might be going postal (becoming uncontrollably angry), while another person might just be whatever (indifferent). (Thanks to the internet for the above examples, though I have to admit that I have used the term copacetic myself from time to time!)

So, it is not surprising to hear Christian young people talking about having a devo at someone’s house, or referring to their own private devo to start or end their day. I can’t say that I particularly like the term (creating such a diminutive seems to me to lessen the significance of the term), but I suppose there is nothing particularly wrong in doing it.

It is more important to examine our actual practice in our personal devotions. What does the scripture reveal about them, and are we emulating that practice in our own lives as children of God? The topic is worth considering…

There are many Old and New Testament examples of men of God who sought opportunities to devote themselves to God in private prayer, meditation and study. Isaac, for example, was meditating alone in a field when he first met his wife Rebekah (Genesis 24:63). David prayed three times a day (Psalm 55:17), and meditated while laying in his bed at night (Psalm 63:6). Daniel was diligent in praying three times a day as well (cf. Daniel 6:10), and persisted in that practice though it led to his persecution.

Jesus on occasion would seek solitude, that He might spend time in meditation and prayer to His Father. One example of this immediately preceded his choosing of the twelve. “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12). The night of His expected betrayal and arrest he removed Himself from them, and prayed to God (cf. Matthew 26:36). He also encouraged the practice of private prayer in His disciples, “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” (Matthew 6:6).

The purpose of such devotions is to renew the spirit, and foster an intimacy with God. We desire the benefits of such nearness, as we are promised. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8a). It is important to note that such “nearness” is not accomplished by emotional appeals and meaningless platitudes, but rather by heeding James’ admonition to, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8b).

We need to recognize the sober nature of personal devotions. Too often when we talk about having a devo, we are talking about a quick prayer, a short, “feel good” scripture, a camp song, and then on to food and play. There is nothing wrong with food and play, but we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that spiritual growth results from these superficial practices.

I once talked with a man, prideful about his devotional time. He spoke highly of a book he used that was “changing his life.” The book was typical of “devotional books.” It had a place for a prayer list, and consisted of a page for each day, with a short passage of scripture and a feel good paragraph to “meditate upon.” The man couldn’t tell you whether Malachi was in the Old or New Testament, and his personal life did not show an understanding or concern about Biblical commands and prohibitions, but he was convinced that he was “close to God” because of his “devos.”

You want a blueprint for a real devo? Study (2 Timothy 2:15), Pray (James 5:16), and Meditate on God’s word (Psalm 1:2). You are sure to draw closer to God!