Several days ago, I was starting out my devotional time as I usually do by reading the day’s passage from a book called Daily Light for the Daily Path. The verses for that day were mostly about attributes of God. As I got to the end of the page, instead of being thankful and full of praise or uplifted and inspired, I merely thought, rather tiredly, “Yeah, I know that already.” I was immediately rebuked by the coldness of my heart, asked the Lord to forgive me and quicken me, and went back though the verses, praising the Lord for each of the attributes I read there. Then I was thankful, full of praise, uplifted, inspired…and humbled.
There are a few thoughts from this experience I’d like to share:
First, sometimes we feel that “deadness of spirit” when we’re tired or not feeling well. Sometimes it actually works better to go ahead and take a little nap and come back to devotions later. Sometimes we’re just distracted and need to ask the Lord to help us focus. Sometimes we need to ask Him to show us any sin in our lives that needs to be confessed. Sometimes we need to ask Him to forgive us for our coldness and quicken us — a visiting preacher during one summer had an excellent message on the phrase “quicken me,” which recurs nine times in Psalm 119. For example, verse 25 says, “My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word” (the NKJV and the NASB use the word “revive”).
Secondly, when we come across passages that are familiar to us, we can try to read them with new eyes, as if we’ve never seen them before. If it is a story, like David an Goliath, we can try to picture it happening before our eyes. We can ask the Lord to help us get the lessons from it He has for us.
Thirdly, we need to remember we won’t always find something “new” in the Bible if we have been reading it for a while. We’ll never exhaust it — there will always be new things to learn. But we also need the repetition of the old truths we have learned so we don’t forget them. Over and over in the Bible we see God repeating Israel’s history to them, reminding them of things He had told them before. We see how people drift away from Him when they forget His truth. Sometimes the repetition is a deeply needed blessing. But if it seems “old news” to us, we can ask God to help us appreciate it anew. We can praise Him for it. We often don’t praise the Lord as we should. I’ve wondered at the phrase “the sacrifice of praise” in Scripture, wondering why the Lord called it a “sacrifice.” It may be because it is a “sweet smell” unto Him, or it may be that we have to give up thinking about ourselves and our problems for a while to focus on Him.
Sometimes we think we have to compartmentalize our devotions into reading, confessing, praising, and requesting. There is nothing wrong with that, but we can also let the confessing, praising and requesting flow as we read. When we come to a verse about an attribute of God or a promise, we can praise Him for it right then reflecting back to Him what His Word says. In fact, there is a Hebrew word that can be translated “confession,” “praise,” or “thanksgiving.” When we confess our sin, we say the same thing about it God does. So, too, when we praise Him, we say the same things about Him that His Word does, and as we do, we come to know Him as He truly is, love Him more, and align ourselves more closely with what He wants us to be.
Sometimes it helps to take a break in our usual routine and spend time is the Psalms or in favorite passages or in a Bible study book or do a word study we’ve been wanting to do.
Proverbs 27:7 says, ”The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” Sometimes we are too full of other things to hunger after God’s Word as we should. We can ask Him to show us what “junk food” we’ve been filling our souls with so we can replace it with His truth, and to create a hunger in us for Him.
Above all, I think, we shouldn’t wait until we’re “feeling” more “devoted” to sit down with the Bible. A former pastor once said that one of his best times of prayer occurred when the last thing he felt like doing was praying, but he went ahead and just started out by confessing that to the Lord. Somehow in the process the Lord melted his heart. As I mentioned in the beginning, just going back through some verses I had just read and asking the Lord to forgive me and quicken me opened them up to me in a new way, and my heart was completely different afterward than it was the first time through.
In John 6:63 Jesus said, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” It is His very Word that the Holy Spirit uses to quicken us. The last thing we need to do when we’re feeling low spiritually is to avoid the Bible. That’s exactly what we need to revive us.