How To Help Someone Who’s Struggling With their Devotions?
Tips on building a healthy Bible reading
It’s a new year! As we begin the year, many might reflect on what happened last 2021, like the things they’re thankful for and things they’ve learned, and then write new sets of goals to accomplish this 2022.
However, some of the items on our 2022 lists will be familiar and old.
One of which is our devotions.
“I’m going to read the Bible from cover to cover this 2022!”
“I’ll read four chapters a day this year!”
“I’ll meditate on God’s word day and night and won’t miss a day!”
These are some of our declarations at the start of the year, yet some of us end up disappointed and have to start all over again the following year.
Why is it that we strive to read our Bibles daily and yet completely fail to do so every year? Not to mention how the pandemic reorganized our priorities and gave us enough temptations not to read our Bibles. At the same time, that gnawing pain every time you miss your devotion a day or so hinders us from continuing with the devotion.
How do you help someone who’s struggling with their devotions?
- Invite them to read one book at a time.
Start small but begin with the story.
The motivation here is first to understand the story of the Bible. The success of every book reading is to be hooked on the story. The Bible is a collection of manuscripts, letters, and poems that conveys an interconnected story.
Often, one of the reasons why we lose the drive to read the Bible is because we felt God wasn’t speaking, especially as we get through the middle of Exodus all the way to Leviticus and Numbers.
Another tip to help them with their Bible reading is to start with the story of Jesus. Begin with the most exciting part, and take care of the prequel later, just like how Star Wars begins with Episode 4: A New Hope and The Lord of the rings: The Fellowship of the Ring before The Hobbits.
The Bible has a unique, one-of-a-kind literary genre that deals with a specific ancient people, historical period, and culture. You’ll be bewildered when you’re not sure what you’re reading.
Invite them to finish at least one of the narrative accounts of Jesus (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), and then write all your observations and questions, especially the weird stuff for you. And as you explore the first half of the Bible — the prequel — begin to seek answers to your questions and then meditate on it as partners or as a group.
2. Ask for accountability with each others’ devotion.
When we think of devotion, we usually think of it as a personal thing. But for the first century Christians, devotion is a communal event.
“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer… And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had.
They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity — all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42, 44–47, NLT).
Being accountable for each other’s devotion isn’t about checking on them occasionally and correcting them when they fail. Accountability is where you lead them to prayer and ask them how to help with their struggle. The last thing you would want is to add to their burden whenever they miss a day or so.
Our relationship and devotion with God should help us be more transparent and vulnerable to our shortcomings. Accountability with our devotion should refresh us to move forward and do the mission effectively and enjoyably.
3. Be gracious at all times.
We live in a fast-paced world, and it has a shortage of grace for failure.
Having a Bible reading and prayer lifestyle in our day and age is a daunting task. It means you should start listing down things you should stop doing, replace them with devotions, be consistent for at least 21 days to make it a habit, and then continue doing it until it becomes a lifestyle. It’s complicated, but it shouldn’t be that way.
Devotion should never be a burden that we carry but a delight that we should enjoy doing.
It was grace that hooks us into a relationship with Jesus, and it should be grace that also helps us enjoy our devotions with Him.
As Christians, we should be the ones who extend grace to those we lead — helping them, believing with them, and journeying with them as they build a lifestyle of Bible reading and prayer.
Reading the Bible was always done in the context of community.
For example, the Apostles’ letters primarily addressed the community. Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians. These were all letters of Paul that addressed specific issues, encouragements, theological exhortations, or praise reports to a large community. These were all read in public, being studied and meditated by communities.
Reading aloud, studying and meditating on passages (even debating on some viewpoints but staying friends in the process), and praying together and believing in what God has impressed on one another should be the picture of our devotions today.
Community devotion not only helps you read and understand your Bible, but it ultimately strengthens your devotion to God.