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Are Your Devotions Getting Stale? 12 Unique Ways to Experience God.

If you've been a Christian for longer than a minute then you've probably been told that you need to pray and read your Bible every day. It's drilled into us as soon as we learn to talk. But just like eating the same Ramen every day for lunch, it can get a little stale if that's all that you do with God.


So, what are the other options? To quote the great Elyse Meyers: "Great question. I would love to tell you."


1. Communion

Let's take a look at Matthew 26:26-29.

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”


In this passage, we see that Jesus is asking us to remember his sacrifice through drinking wine and bread. To find out more about this, you can check out my other blog on the subject: Why Do Christians Eat Jesus During Communion?


Traditionally, communion has been practiced by believers since Jesus started it 2000 years ago. Many times it starts with a confession and prayer, remembering what Christ did for us and it’s done together as Christians - not typically on our own. Typically, this is done with the church so grab your partner, roommate, or kids and ask them to take communion with you.


2. Be Still

When was the last time you just sat in silence with no distractions? It's so rare in our society. We constantly have to be entertained by something, even in church. So for this one, I'd encourage you to go to a park or even better a state park and go for a hike by yourself.


Then, practice being still before God.


Below, I've listed some verses to read to help focus your mind but for the majority of the time just let your mind be still. Notice how God is keeping all things together and how is in total control. Be attentive to detail, and see God’s creativity in the big and little. Don’t listen to anything except the sounds of the outside, and bring a journal to write down any thoughts that you want to remember and a physical Bible (this will help you from getting distracted on your phone.)

I'll be the first to tell you that it can be hard to stay still. Every time I practice this, my to-do list comes to mind, so let's plan for that. If things come to mind that you need to do, write them down in the journal and have peace that you can go back later and see your list of things if you need them.


Resist the urge to fill the space with words.


Revelation 4:2-3

At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne,”


Psalm 46:10

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”


Isaiah 40:31

but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles;

they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.


Job 37:14

“Hear this, O Job; stop and consider the wondrous works of God.


Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness

for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil,

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff,

they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD

forever.


Isaiah 26:3

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.


3. Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina (which means divine reading) became a tradition of monks back in the sixth century and is practiced across the world today. This is a unique way to study scripture by taking it bit by bit and giving space for God to speak to us through it.


It was developed by Benedict of Nursia in the 6th Century. In the 12th century, it was formalized by Guigo with four steps: reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation.

In Benedict’s famous Rule for Monks (480 – 547) he urges us to listen to God’s word “with the ear of our hearts.”


Here's how it works:

  • Reading. Read a short passage slowly and carefully.

  • Prayer. Have a loving conversation with God.

  • Meditation. Think deeply about a spiritual reality within a text. (What do you see, hear, etc? Who do you relate to the most? What does this show you about Jesus?)

  • Contemplation. Rest in God's presence.

  • Action. Go and do likewise.

Try it with Luke 10:38-42


Want to know more about this? Check out this resource: How To Do Lectio Divina

4. Scripted Prayers

This may seem like cheating but reading already-prepared prayers can be helpful. They can express things that maybe you couldn't put words to.


Here are some examples:


Lysa Terkeurst's Prayer

Lord, may nothing separate me from You today. Teach me how to choose only Your way today so each step will lead me closer to You. Help me walk by the Word and not my feelings. Help me to keep my heart pure and undivided. Protect me from my own careless thoughts, words, and actions. And keep me from being distracted by MY wants, MY desires, MY thoughts on how things should be. Help me to embrace what comes my way as an opportunity... rather than a personal inconvenience. And finally, help me to rest in the truth of Psalm 86:13, 'Great is your love toward me.' You already see the ways I will fall short and mess up. But right now, I consciously tuck Your whisper of absolute love for me into the deepest part of my heart. I recognize Your love for me is not based on my performance. You love me warts and all. That's amazing. But what's most amazing is that the Savior of the world would desire a few minutes with me this morning. Lord, help me to forever remember what a gift it is to sit with You like this. Amen.


Prayer to God the Father — St Macarius the Great (300–391 AD)

O Eternal God and King of all creation, who has granted me to arrive at this hour, forgive me the sins that I have committed today in thought, word and deed, and cleanse, O Lord, my humble soul from all defilement of flesh and spirit. And grant me, O Lord, to pass the sleep of this night in peace, that when I rise from my bed I may please Your most holy Name all the days of my life and conquer my flesh and the fleshless foes that war with me. And deliver me, O Lord, from vain and frivolous thoughts, and from evil desires which defile me. For Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.


Prayer to God the Father — St Ambrose of Milan (337–397 AD)

O Lord, who has mercy upon all, take away from me my sins, and mercifully kindle in me the fire of Your Holy Spirit. Take away from me the heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh, a heart to love and adore You, a heart to delight in You, to follow and to enjoy You, for Christ’s sake.


1 Samuel 2:1-10

Then Hannah prayed:“My heart rejoices in the Lord! The Lord has made me strong. Now I have an answer for my enemies; I rejoice because you rescued me.No one is holy like the Lord! There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.

“Stop acting so proud and haughty! Don’t speak with such arrogance! For the Lord is a God who knows what you have done; he will judge your actions.

The bow of the mighty is now broken, and those who stumbled are now strong.

Those who were well fed are now starving, and those who were starving are now full. The childless woman now has seven children, and the woman with many children wastes away.

The Lord gives both death and life; he brings some down to the grave but raises others up.

The Lord makes some poor and others rich; he brings some down and lifts others up.

He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the garbage dump. He sets them among princes, placing them in seats of honor. For all the earth is the Lord’s, and he has set the world in order.

“He will protect his faithful ones, but the wicked will disappear in darkness. No one will succeed by strength alone.

Those who fight against the Lord will be shattered. He thunders against them from heaven; the Lord judges throughout the earth. He gives power to his king; he increases the strength of his anointed one.”


Matthew 6:8-13

“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! Pray like this:

Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.

May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us today the food we need,

and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.

And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.


5. Engaging Worship

When it comes to worship, we can often sing mindlessly so engaging our physical bodies can help us engage our minds as well. If you've never tried to lift your hands or kneel, I'd encourage you to try it by yourself first. Have a moment with just you and God where you can be free to express yourself.


Here are some examples in Scripture where we see active worship.


Lifting up hands

Psalm 63:4

So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.

Psalm 134:2

Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the LORD!


Luke 24:50

And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them.


1 Kings 8:22

Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven,


Kneeling

Psalm 95:6

Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.


Luke 22:41

And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray,


1 Kings 8:54

When Solomon had finished praying this entire prayer and supplication to the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread toward heaven.


Dancing

Psalm 149:3

Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!


Jeremiah 31:13

Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.


Need a worship playlist? Here you go


6. Study The Bible For Yourself

One of the most important parts of being a Christian is knowing God’s Word. It’s God’s guidebook to us and it’s important to understand it. How do you understand something? You study it.


5 Simple Steps:

Step 1: Pray. All scripture reading, studying and application must begin with prayer. ...

Step 2: Read the scripture with fresh eyes. ...

Step 3: Ask the basic questions: Who, what, when, why, and how. ...

Step 4: Explore by reading commentaries and Bible dictionaries, and watching YouTube videos on that topic.

Step 5: Journal and apply.


Source: https://explorethebible.lifeway.com/blog/adults/5-steps-for-expositing-scripture/


7. Discern What God is Saying

In my experience, God can speak to us through his Word but also through our minds when we’re praying or just going about our day. We want to have a relationship with God and that includes listening to him.


Where is this in the Bible?


John 8:47

Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.


1 Samuel 3: 1-18 (God calling Samuel)


Acts 2:17

‘In the last days, God says,

I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy,

your young men will see visions,

your old men will dream dreams.


In his book, Whisper, Mark Batterson shares a few ways that God speaks:

  • Scripture - God will never speak something contrary to his Word.

  • Desires

  • Check your ego at the door

  • If you want it too much, you might want it for the wrong reasons

  • Emotion is a great servant but a terrible master

  • Decipher whether or not the desire waxes or wanes over time

  • A little emotional intelligence goes a long way

  • Dreams

  • Doors Opening

  • People

  • Promptings - feeling the need to check in on someone or pray for someone or buy someone’s groceries

  • Pain

Take time to listen to the Holy Spirit on a regular basis. What might he be prompting you to do more of? Is he encouraging you to ask someone if they need prayer? Are doors opening that you're trying to close?


Extra Resource: https://jamesriver.church/blog/hearing-god-speak


8. Fasting

Matthew 6:16-18

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."


Fasting is giving something up for a time. Traditionally, it's food but it can be your phone, social media, TV, chocolate, etc...


Why give up things you like? It's a spiritual discipline that helps you to focus your mind on relying on God.


In the Bible, we see... - Jesus fast for 40 days to begin his ministry.

- Paul and Barnabas did it as they appointed leaders in the church.

- Esther asked the Hebrews to fast as she stood up for them.

9. Meditation

So often, meditation is seen as something bad for Christians to do. It's thought of as a practice of other religions but Christians can meditate too. In fact, we see it in Genesis 24:63, Isaiah 26:3, and God command it in Joshua 1:8.


I really liked this definition:

"Christian meditation is the act of filling one’s mind with Scripture, and dwelling on God and all that He offers to humanity. Unlike Eastern religious meditation which calls for the emptying of one’s mind, Christian meditation is a conscious activity in which one slowly thinks about and fill his/her mind with what God says in Scripture.While the word “meditation” in the Bible has three separate definitions, it can be summarized. It means to “mutter, speak and ponder” to oneself the words of Scripture so that we are constantly meditating on what God has spoken to us. This produces not only knowledge of the Bible, but also, a heart transformation." (Peña)

So why not try it now? Check out this 5 minute meditation.

Additional resource: How to meditate in a Christian context


10. Journaling

Writing in a diary isn't just for middle schoolers, it's a helpful tool to help you grow in your faith more.


Not sure what to write about? Here are some ideas.

  • Wins in your faith, family or life in general

  • Challenges

  • Answered prayers

  • What you learned while reading the Bible - different verses or quotes that stuck out to you

  • What kind of person do you want to be

11. Praying over others

Praying for people out loud can be scary. What if you don't say the right thing or you forget something important?


But, it's all over Scripture. Here are some examples:

  • "Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off." Acts 13:3

  • "It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him healed him." Acts 28:8

  • "Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit." Acts 8:17

Here's a prompt on how to pray for someone:


God I pray for ______ - thank you for how she is __________ we ask that you help her _______ *wait* I feel like God wants you to know ________


Follow the PRAY acronym - praise, request, ask, yield (wait for God to speak)


Pro tip: Don’t just pray for the people you know, this can make others feel left out.

12. Lament

Lament is an acknowledgment of the wounds of the heart and the loss that the heart has suffered. … When we acknowledge the wounds of the heart, it’s generally not one thing, but a number of things that are tethered and lost together.


Depending on what season you are in, this may be easier or harder. Lamenting is typically exercised when we are so broken that we don’t really have words - so often, we put our best foot forward in our prayers. Lamenting isn’t that at all. It’s a time to be completely open. It’s a time to complain to God and to ask God why.


Lamenting in the Bible: The book of Lamentations weeps over the destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus lamented in the final hours of his life.


How to Lament:


Turn to God. Often a lament begins with an address to God: “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1). The point is that the person in pain chooses to talk to God about what is happening.

Bring your complaint. Every lament features some kind of complaint: “How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?” (Psalm 13:2). More than a sinful rehearsing of our anger, biblical lament humbly and honestly identifies the pain, questions, and frustrations raging in our souls.

Ask boldly for help. Seeking God’s help while in pain is an act of faith: “Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed over him,’ lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken” (Psalm 13:3–4). Unremitting sorrow can create a deadly silence as we give in to despair (“there’s no hope”) or denial (“everything’s fine”). But lament invites us to dare to hope in God’s promises as we ask for his help.

Choose to trust. This is the destination for our laments. All roads lead here: “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me” (Psalm 13:5–6). M