I keep a relatively busy schedule and often feel like I have a lot on my plate. Some weeks it feels like my husband and I are running on several different schedules from one another, only connecting for brief moments maybe at dinner or a shared responsibility.
Trying to add spending time with Jesus into this seems fruitless. “We’re going too fast, we only have these moments to organize with one another,” or, “We’re just tired,” are some of the excuses we’ve used. When the truth is, at least for us, we do have time. We’re just bad at consistency.
Let’s Talk about Habit Formation
I remember an elementary school teacher telling me that it takes 23 tries for a practice to become a habit. I think this was in response to learning my multiplication tables. Although there is no proof that 23 is this magic number, I think it helps us to conceptualize that it takes time before a practice becomes natural or routine to us. I am good at trying to start routines but then after a few days, I tend to fall off and not get back on track. Even if the habit is something you enjoy doing, there often needs to be a plethora of motivation to convince yourself to continue the habit (especially if you’ve stopped for a few days or weeks). When it comes to continually spending time in God’s Word, learning about His heart for you and the world, it can seem like nothing is working.
What I’ve Tried
There are several ways I’ve tried to create this habit of committing to a daily devotion. One way is signing up for devotional emails. I find myself “checking my inbox” as a way to procrastinate or take a brain break. By having a devotional email in my inbox, when I’m taking these moments away from other work, I can read from God’s Word and be refreshed. In college, this was my main way of doing a daily devotion. After undergrad, I can’t say it’s worked with the same success. But maybe it will work for you.
I’ve also used devotional apps, such as the Portals of Prayer app, and set notifications on said apps at a specific time to read the devotional for the day. Again, this is one I had success with for a while, but I fell off because I could simply ignore the notifications. I say that these stopped working for me, not to say that you shouldn’t try these tactics, but to showcase options for your current situation.
What Has Worked (for me)
While it may seem strange to start a daily devotional a month before the new year (shouldn’t this be a New Year’s resolution?), I find that during the season of Advent I have the most, what I call, “religious energy.” There is something about the Advent (and then Christmas) season that makes me want to create habits of looking to His Word. I think it’s because so many of us already have traditions at this time of the year that using a “special devotional” seems right. Keeping this energy after the season is easier if you’ve committed to reading God’s Word at a specific time of day. I am a night owl. Even though I can be productive in the mornings, I feel the most awake, alert, and motivated in the evenings. For me, doing my devotional time after dinner has been the best way to keep consistently in God’s Word. Maybe for you it’s first thing in the morning, at breakfast? Or maybe lunch break? If there’s a pocket of time you have to just sit, read or listen, that may be the perfect opportunity.
All this to say, your ability to continue a daily devotional practice is not what determines your place in God’s kingdom. Although it definitely is so, so good to be in God’s Word and learning from Him, there is boundless grace. I want you to be in God’s Word as often as you can, learning about how much He loves and cares for you, about His unending joy and peace that surpasses all understanding. This world is hectic, loud, and can be deceitful. God’s Word and consistently being in the Truth is a remedy for the chaos.
Use Minute Messages, a devotional by Matthew Richard, for short, quick opportunities to hear about Jesus.