Using Weekly Devotionals
Devotionals are a spiritual practice we use to connect with God and the Presence of God within us and all around us. People of all religious backgrounds use devotionals to deepen their faith and build their spiritual understanding. The best devotionals guide us in becoming more self-aware and attuned to our own intuition, the still, small voice within.
Some people “pray” their devotional, sometimes repeating the message or teaching aloud or writing it long-hand several times. Whether we choose to do this or not, the most important thing about devotionals is discovering how to live them. Because the best devotionals are those we can actually apply to our own lives.
So, no matter how you choose to use these, find at least one thing each week which is a blessing in your life — and write it down — so you can witness your own progress, step by step, and feel hopeful about your future.
Engage The Practice:
While many devotionals are daily, we may feel challenged to take a daily practice deep. By dedicating ourselves to a weekly practice, we give ourselves daily time to digest and integrate new ideas, as we enrich our faith. This way we can more easily incorporate what we learn into a flourishing spiritual practice.
However you choose to engage this practice and contemplate the devotionals, be honest with yourself. Stay flexible and open to adjusting, as needed. Also, keep a sense of gentle, good humor in the process, so you can enjoy the realization of finally “getting” it, whatever your “it” is, and in celebrating how far you have come.
Also, consider engaging the devotionals with your spouse, partner, or friend. Be sure that this is a person you trust to share your deepest desires and fears and who will listen and keep sacred confidence with you, rather than offer you advice, correct your responses, or try to change your thinking.
While each devotional includes specific questions, you may also want to consider any of these general questions as they relate to your current circumstances:
- How can I use this wisdom and insight to transcend a challenge or live a new way?
- How am I being invited to look deeper into my beliefs? To see a relationship differently? To forgive a hurt? To heal my body, mind, and/or spirit? To begin or complete a project? To release a burden? To shift perspective?
- How might I accomplish or reconsider my goals?
- What assurance or re-assurance am I being offered?
- What hope is being provided?
- How can I better appreciate my own personal growth?
- How am I being guided to release the past? Or a behavior that no longer serves me?
- How am I being encouraged to relax into the future?
Notice what else you discover as you read and re-read each devotional. Leave as much time as you can for realization and Ah-Ha moments.
Write your thoughts in the present tense, using affirmative phrasing such as, “I am,” “I see,” I hear,” “I know,” “I give,” “I receive,” “I want.” “I forgive.” “I understand.” “I have.” “I do.”
Create The Space:
Commit to a specific time every day and schedule it in your calendar or planner, just as you would any other important commitment. For example: 30 minutes at 7:30 AM, as you enjoy your morning cup of coffee or at 7:30 PM, while you enjoy an evening cup of tea and the kids are doing their homework.
Choose anywhere which feels comfortable for your body, mind, and spirit. For many of us, that means somewhere quiet and clutter-free, though for others it may mean on a walking trail or floating on a raft.
Remember, no matter where or when you choose, this is your sacred time to honor, nurture, and care for yourself.
Use The Text:
With any text, biblical or otherwise, especially one to be used for contemplation, read the text a few times, whether in one sitting, if that feels comfortable, or over several days. Notice which words resonate with you. Circle, highlight, or underline them. Write them in a journal, sketch them in a word map, create a word design, or draw images you imagine.
Think about the texts, as well as your life, in the present tense. Remember that the text is a living document; it continues to live because we can still use it for our own learning and growth. Remember, too, that we are living and growing, if we choose, so we can avoid wallowing in the past or worrying about the future.
Be careful about taking texts literally, especially biblical texts which may have mystical meanings and/or be written to address particular practices or historical events. Remember that writers, including poets and lyricists, use many literary devices to convey their messages. Rather than focusing on what the writer “means,” consider what the message says to you. Contemplate how the message applies to your life now.
Gather The Tools:
Bible, and other favorite texts, sacred or otherwise
Pens, Pencils, Highlighters, Markers
Study guides may be helpful, though they can make the process more intellectual than contemplative and intuitive.
Faith guides us through uncertainty and doubt.
We can cultivate our lives all year long.
A longing invites us to follow our heart.
We can move beyond fear as we honor our soul’s call.
Even in times of turmoil, we can find something to celebrate.
Faith is believing even when we feel uncertain.