To many Christians, “daily devotions” is just a normal concept. As for me, I grew up in the church and heard it all the time, so I never questioned it. There are three parts to this concept that I would like to discuss:
First is the concept and mindset of daily devotions. My understanding of what many Christians mean by this is that they set aside a small period of time (maybe 1-30 minutes) and they read the Bible, devotional book, or a Christian book. According to a dictionary, devotion means “religious fervor”, “an act of prayer or private worship”, “the fact or state of being ardently dedicated and loyal”. So then, we must ask the question: As Christians, are we called to only be those things (the definitions) for one small period of time each day? Most certainly not. Does God call us to only devote 15 minutes a day for him, or to devote our lives to him? I think that spending time reading the Bible is a great thing, but this title of “daily devotions” is bad, and if I had my way with it, we’d get rid of it from our vocabulary.
Second is the substance of what Christians call devotions. There are loads upon loads of devotional books out there. More than enough to allow you to read a different page daily for the rest of your life, no matter what age you are. My wife received a devotional book from someone this Christmas. The book itself was quite small, maybe only 5 inches tall, so it had very small pages. On each page was a Bible verse at the top (written in very small lettering), followed by a small paragraph. The writings were shallow, boring, and talked more about life in general than about God. It had virtually zero doctrinal substance, and it took all of 20 seconds to read. Because this is a daily devotional book, many Christians will feel like they’ve accomplished what they needed in their daily devotions by reading something like this. Things like this pull Christians out of the Bible itself, and give them a false sense of doing what God desires of them. We don’t need devotional books! Pull out the Bible itself instead and read from the riches of God’s word! If I had my way with devotional books, they would all be thrown away.
Third is the sense of requirement Christians feel in making sure to do their daily devotions. They feel a sense of failure and/or guilt if they forget to spend those few minutes reading. I won’t go into this in detail, because the concept of guilt for things like this could easily have a post or a few on it’s own. But, I do find it interesting that this daily devotional concept can often feel like a requirement for right standing with God. That shouldn’t be the case. It’s not about just setting apart time in your day to spend reading a devotional. You can commune with God through the regular activities of life, even something like emptying the dishwasher. More on this though at a later date.