By Mark A. Taylor
To read the 23 testimonies shared in this week’s issue is at once to be humbled and encouraged. (To read article, click here.)
We’re humbled at the faithfulness and devotion demonstrated by our writers.
• Here we see someone who uses a cushioned stool to ease the pain in her knees and back so she can spend more time kneeling in prayer.
• Here we discover a student who memorizes 20 Bible verses at a time while riding his exercise bicycle.
• Here we see several who read through the Bible every year—and one who will spend at least five years reading the whole Bible so she can truly meditate on its meaning.
• Here we find prayer outlines, prayer journals, prayer lists—idea after idea for organizing and disciplining ourselves to pray.
We’re encouraged precisely because of these ideas. Each of us can find here at least one new method to enrich our private times with God.
And we’re encouraged because these paragraphs come from everyday people, not cloistered saints. Our personal devotional habit may be nothing to write about, but several of this week’s writers also failed before they succeeded at a daily time with God. They write not out of pride, but demonstrating their great need. We read their words and admit we also need—and we can have—what they are experiencing.
Their experience intrigues us most. When we’ve tried Bible study and prayer only out of guilt, we’ve always given up. We may know someone who pursues “daily devotions” much as another endures daily exercise or a daily serving of breakfast prunes. To be sure, we should do some things just because they’re good for us—even if they’re painful or unpleasant. And we probably will not discover the delight of knowing God till we commit to the duty of time with him.
But we must see the connection between daily devotions and daily life. It’s about a relationship, not a regimen. As we meditate on his words and learn to share with him the depths of our hopes and fears and frustrations, we long for even more time with him. We can’t limit our prayers to morning or evening. We bring him into decisions and problems and confrontations throughout the day. And because we’ve read his Word not to get through it but to hear him speak to us, we find ourselves remembering what he said.
This was the experience of Mary, the remarkable everyday woman of God chosen to usher his Son into the world. As Jan Johnson points out this week, Mary’s spontaneous praise to God was framed with words she’d heard from God again and again, year after year.
Her understanding of his Word helped her cope when she couldn’t fathom his will. Her faithfulness was the product of a lifelong relationship with him. She, along with this week’s writers, is an example for all of us. Their joy can be ours.