Why I Quit Devotionals

I have officially quit reading devotionals!  I think they are great resources, I think they’ve helped a lot of people (myself included) make sense of things in life, and I believe for the most part that those that write them are called to do so, to share their message.  So why in the world would I give up on them?  For a number of reasons actually, but mainly, I found they were hindering my spiritual growth.

Please let me explain.  

1.  I was getting frustrated that I could only go as deep as Sara Young did.  Or Beth Moore.  Or whoever wrote the Daily Bread that day.  My growth stopped where theirs stopped.  I was framing my mind to think like them, to see the world and God how they did.  My daily dose of “hang in there” was coming from Max Lucado, not from Jesus himself.  Devotionals became where I turned each day to hear from God instead of the Bible, and so I wasn’t hearing from Him.  I was going there for spiritual guidance and comfort, not directly to God.

2.  I was using it to cross “God Time” off my list.  I don’t hate devotionals or discourage their use, but for me personally since I was essentially reading them instead of the Bible, they were causing me to become weak in my faith and never sparked a greater thirst for Christ.

3.  It made me a lazy Christian.  So much so that I didn’t even realize it until I stopped reading them.  I was reading these without intention, getting that good feeling for a moment that I had done the “right thing”, patting myself on the back for my dedication, then forgetting what it was about almost immediately after.  Once I realized I was doing this, I knew something had to change. 

4.  Certain verses really stick out to us based on where we are at in our journey and what our circumstances are at the moment.  That’s why the daily verses chosen for me that day in a devotional almost never “did the trick” for me.  I realized this very quickly in my “no devotional” experiment.  Verses that weren’t your typical ones picked for devotionals were suddenly hitting me very hard, convicting and refining me, and helping me where I was at.  I’m not someone who hears a verse and can just take it to heart.  “God says don’t fear?  Uh, ok, I won’t!”  Yeah, sorry, my brain just doesn’t work like that.

5.  I find them often to be quite cheesy.  Ah, sorry, don’t get mad!  I just am not someone who is comforted by platitudes and nice sayings.  Two truths: God is good and life is tough. No I don’t need babied through it, I need truth, even if it’s hard to swallow or understand.  I found devotionals always trying to wrap things up nicely, but that just wasn’t my life anymore since cancer.  And I could not relate.

6.  Devotionals don’t always tackle the “tough stuff”.  The Bible does.

I knew I needed to try something else.  So I did…

I am now reading the Bible, regularly, in succession.  Book by book.  (New Testament and Psalms, I’m reading through the OT with my husband, so I’m not doing that on my own).  And I’m reading with intention.  This is the biggest and most important part, in my opinion.  Every day I read to get something out of it, to feel the nudging of the Spirit, to hear directly what Jesus wants to say to me -with no middle man.  Just connecting every day with my savior.  It’s been so beneficial in my spiritual journey and in how I relate to and see others, that’s why I felt compelled to share this.

I’ve found that my time with the Lord has become so high quality.  The closeness is tangible at times.  I feel His leading and direction so much more now and I now yearn for my time with Him.  Full disclosure here, I used to just make myself read devotionals and the little accompanying verses.  I had to schedule it in, and a lot of times I’d let other things trump that time because, well, I didn’t really want to do it anyway, I just felt like I should.  But reading the Bible itself has changed that.  I yearn for my time with God now, can’t wait to hear what He will have to say to me.  It’s hard to even explain the change that has taken place within me, but I feel now like I’m hearing what God wants me to hear each day, not what someone else needed to hear that day and not what someone else felt they needed to share that day.

My favorite outcome of this little boycott, is that I feel like I am gaining so much more of a bigger picture about God, who He is, how His heart is.  I never gained any greater understanding of the Bible by just reading a verse out of Galatians one day, Ezekiel the next, and Psalms the next and the accompanying anecdotes for the day.  I knew Jesus and had a personal relationship with Him, but never really got a big picture of everything as a whole.  Now that I’m reading this way, I feel that I’m making connections I never did before, I’m gaining so much more understanding and reverence for God, and reading through John over and over has given me such a sense of Jesus’s heart.

It’s hard to explain, and I sure hope I’m not coming across “preachy” or like I have it all figured out.  Because that would be very incorrect.  But I can honestly say, without hesitation, that this has changed my life.  It seems so obvious right?  Duh, read your Bible.  But I had to get the other people out of my head first before I could fully let Jesus in and let Him have control.  I’ve been doing this for a while now and have wanted to share this, but never felt like it was the right time until now.  I hope this makes sense, maybe others can read devotions and read the Bible and not have any issues like I had.  In fact, I’m sure that happens a whole lot.  

Again, devotionals are not bad or wrong.  In fact, I love when someone reads one and thinks I could be helped or encouraged by it and shares it with me.  I’m not anti-devotional, I just feel that I’m better off not relying on them, that’s all.

In this day and age where everything competes for our time and attention, if you only find a few minutes a day to spare to intentional time with God, may I humbly recommend trying this approach?  If you feel how I felt before, I urge you to give it a try.  I feel so much more open an available to His using now, hard to believe this is what made the difference.  

One small change that changed my life.

25 thoughts on “Why I Quit Devotionals

  1. Super powerful!! You stepped on my toes a few times as I remembered checking God off my list in the morning, but in a good way. With your permission, I’d like to re-post this. It’s filled with wisdom!

  2. Reblogged this on Robin Luftig and commented:
    I love being challenged, and Kim’s blog routinely does just that. I dare you to read her latest blog and not feel her stepping on your toes once or twice. If you didn’t feel it, maybe you aren’t being as honest with yourself as you should.

    Thanks, Kim, for putting words to a frustrating feeling many experience.

  3. Love this! I have grown to love the Precept Bible Studies by Kay Arthur. I like her approach which is more of asking questions about the text to get you thinking, but she does not draw conclusions for you. There is nothing like when the Holy Spirit gives you the revelation. So much more powerful than when someone else does that for you.

  4. I find the same intimacy with Jesus for the same reasons. I also do not seek TV preachers or teachers and I do not keep Christian radio on all the time when I am home. There is too much “talk” not enough “walk” and certainly obedience to truth cannot be spontaneous when we rest on someone else’s opinion or experience.

  5. Kim – I always think you do such a wonderful job of bringing a fresh and honest perspective of what you’re dealing with in your life. It’s challenging, it’s real and it takes a lot of courage to put out what’s in your heart in a completely non offensive way. I really admire you (and remain one of your biggest fans since I was fourteen years old) ❤ 🙂

  6. Kim, something I’ll just throw out there that I use a lot and love! I have a bible app on my phone. You can pick any version you want. (Sometimes when something is really speaking to me I listen to it in several versions) I choose what chapter/verse I want to start with, then I put it on when I go to bed and find it very relaxing and my mind just soaks in Gods word. Yes, I usually fall asleep (after about 1/2 hr or so) and find as my mind is waking the next day it’s the first thing that comes to mind. These are the thoughts that I ponder about thru out the day. 😊 Just thought I’d share. Please know I pray for you and your family often! 🙏

    1. Hey Trina, I know exactly what you’re talking about, its such an awesome app! My husband and I use it at night when we read before bed (we like that it reads it out loud lol). I love the idea of just letting it go, I never thought of that. What a great way to keep it fresh in your mind, thanks for sharing that! (: and thank you so much for your prayers!

  7. Hmmmm – interesting concept to consider! I, too, have been using short devotionals each morning that are unrelated to each other, and I think you gave me the nudge I needed to start something “with more meat”. Thanks for sharing!

  8. You should write your own! I also have a very difficult time reading devotionals and stopped reading them altogether. Then God allowed me to write them for my church which allowed me to write something a little deeper, although my audience is a wide range of people so I typically write them somewhere right in the middle for all to enjoy. I find that when I want to go deeper then that, I write it as a blog post but use a devotional format although it ends up a combo of that and a study. I think that’s because I find studies too grueling and also lacking life.

    1. Melissa, no lie, I often feel like I’m reading them when I read your blog, in a good way! You should totally write one and publish it. I do like devotionals, maybe I sounded a bit harsh, but I just needed to give them up, at least for a little.

      1. I get it. Writing for Calvary has been awesome and a way to express myself through Christ but my ultimate dream is to one day write a more in depth devotional series that isn’t so pie in the sky if you know what I mean. I think that’s what you are talking about; there is a spiritual richness and thickness that you desire that isn’t there in the modern day devotional.

  9. I’m totally with you! Had the same feeling myself so I started reading the Old Testament and will continue until I finish Revelations and will start over again. It may take awhile but I’m gaining so much more!

  10. Intentional time with God, what a basic concept that someone who’s followed Christ for over thirty years still needs to hear. I’ve taken evangelism courses and know to preach a personal relationship with Christ is vital for salvation, but it’s also vital for sanctification — and how can I forget that?! Thanks, Kim.

  11. Wow Kim. Great insight. I’ve felt like this at times also. Thanks for always opening your heart to us. Blessings!

  12. Kim. I just found your blog yesterday by googling Keytruda. I have read through much of it, and it has been a true inspiration to me. You have beautifully conveyed what it means to place ones life into God’s hands. It was the kind reading I needed. You see, My husband and I are going through our own cancer saga. He was diagnosed last June with a retroperitoneal srcoma, a not very common cancer and has been treated over the last year with radiation and three types of chemo drugs. He has mets to the lungs also. Most of our treatment has been at Penn. Just found out that the last chemo did not work as expected and we now must decide on two clinical trial targeted therapies: one based in Philly and the other in Pittsburgh.One of the drugs is Keytruda. I became a Roman Catholic nine years ago and have never looked back. If it were not for my faith, I don’t know how I would be getting through everything a diagnosis like this entails. My husband did not make this faith journey with me. He defines himself as a spiritual agnostic. I was just so down yesterday trying to make some sense out of this decision making when I came upon your blog. It was the gentle push/reminder that I need to reaffirm that I have placed my husband and our situation into our Lord’s hands and avail myself of the true peace He offers and that somehow the right decision will be made. You and your beautiful family will be in my prayer list. Betty

  13. Thank you for being honest and smart and for telling through your blog how you are making your relationship w God the priority in your life, especially given all you are facing. It’s so inspiring and uplifting! Thank you for your words of wisdom. I too have felt that in the past and although I considered devotionals supplemental, it still can inadvertently become the staple, instead of the bible holding that place of honour.
    Because of your post, I’m going to fast from devotionals (not disparage or denounce them, just take a break from them) and see what The Lord has to say about it. Either way, I applaud you for your courage in facing this trial and for how you glorify Jesus through it. Amen!

  14. Ya know, I’ve been feeling guilty (for years) about reading “devotionals”. No, maybe I need to clarify that statement. It’s not the reading of them I feel guilty about, but the feeling guilty that I find most of them so boring. Each time I subscribed to a new daily devotional email I’d think, “this is going to be good,” and within a few weeks, or even days in some cases, I was deleting them without reading them. At the beginning of this year, my pastor (I attend an Anglican church) sent out a Bible reading schedule for the whole year. No notes, no fluffy quotes, just a daily Bible reading. Sometimes it’s a whole chapter, sometimes half a chapter depending on the size of the chapter. More often than not, I look at it and think, “Oh, is that all there is for today.” Last night it was 1Samuel 27. Our pastor also encourages us to email him if we have any questions relating to the passage, and then he sends out his response to everyone on the list. So, I log on to http://www.BibleGateway.com and listen to scripture being read until I start to fall asleep. Thanks Kim, I’m so glad I’m not the only one 🙂

  15. Kim, you are wise beyond your years ! Couldn’t agree with you more regarding just going to the source to build that relationship. God just lays it all out for us. my daughter and I read through the Bible with each other. We would call each other and read just 15 minutes a day. What a great experience for both of us. Reading from beginning to end also helps with understanding the Bible since understanding it has to do with the context of the passage you are reading. Think I will check out that app for your phone. thanks for the idea. Praying for your healing and for your family

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