One of the key elements of our daily time alone with God is the devotional resource that we choose. How do we go about choosing what to use?
A good resource fits you personally.
First of all, a good devotional resource for you has to fit you and the kind of time alone with God that you are planning to have. Do you like to read or is reading not your thing? How much time do you have? If you are a neophyte, I recommend something fairly short such as the Our Daily Bread booklet from Radio Bible Class that our church distributes. But if you are planning to spend a half hour or 45 minutes at prayer, you might want to try something meaty like A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants (Reuben P. Job and Norman Shawchuck).
A good resource is also God’s plan for you for this year.
I encourage Christians to make it a matter of prayer during the last week of the year as to what resource God would want them to use for their devotional life in the New Year. God will bless that choice to your benefit many times in the coming months and you want to be in tune with the one that He wants for you.
Of course, there is a human side too. What overall will attract you to this devotional? Is it a women’s or men’s devotional? Is it a gardener’s devotional or a teacher’s devotional? Is it simply an author who attracts you? Such things can help maintain your interest. For example, I prayed about this year’s choice, but I also choose my devotional book this year partly because I love reading E. Stanley Jones and the devotional I am using for 2011 is a collection from his writings.
A good devotional resource has the features you like.
I always look for a writer that uses fresh illustrations and stories more than simply moralizing. It makes the reading more interesting, memorable and pointed.
I insist that there is a direct connection of the day’s devotional with Scripture. Each day’s article should begin near the top with a key text.
The best resources also have some added features. Examples might include: suggested prayers, additional Scripture passages for further reading, good quotes from well-known writers, and short meaty thoughts for the day. Some expensive books include artist illustrations too. If there is one or more of these special features that you like, you may want to consider looking for it.
Most important is to pick one and get started.
Don’t worry if you miss a day or two. Nearly everybody does. Either just continue reading sequentially or skip pages to get to the page that matches the calendar date, whichever tactic feels right to you. But don’t let the fact that you missed a day or even a few days keep you from spending more time with God.