We all go through periods when our devotional lives feel stale, we struggle to pray with passion, and we long for deep, meaningful connection with our Heavenly Father.

Sometimes, we can feel guilty for our boredom. Shouldn’t we always be engaged with the God of the Universe? Shouldn’t His sacrifice on the cross be enough to propel us to continual heights of bliss and contentment?

The reality is that as much as our relationship is with God, one half of that relationship contains a human being. So, it’s subject to all the fickleness and flakiness that human beings exhibit—at least from our end of the relationship.

Our hearts and emotions follow a natural ebb and flow, so we need to take this into account when engaging in relationships with friends, spouses, and God.

Just as we might need to introduce a novel element to freshen our relationships with spouses, so might we sometimes need to change things up in our relationship with God. The relationship and love are still solid; perhaps the method just needs to change a little.

Today, I thought I would share ideas on a few possible methods you might like to experiment with, in freshening up your devotional life.

Many of us follow a typical routine of:

  • singing along to a worship song or two
  • reading the Bible
  • journalling
  • praying

If you’re not doing those things in devotions, perhaps introducing them might be a good place to start.

If you are, but now you’re bored, you might like to experiment with some of the items in the list below. Remember, you shouldn’t try to do everything in this list all at once or even all the time. Choose one thing, and insert it into your devotional routine for a day or a week. Then take it out and try something else.


1. Memorize a scripture verse. Practice it over the next week at the start of your devotions.

2. Instead of reading the Bible, listen to it. There’s a great dramatized version of the NIV translation available at biblegateway.com.

3. Give food, money, clothing, or something similar to a homeless person.

4. Pray through and personalize a Psalm. Read a verse or line at a time aloud, then pray to God (also aloud) on the same topic. For instance, you might read Psalm 9:1: “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” Then you might thank God aloud for  3 to 5 things that have happened in the last day or week; or you might decide to hit on the highlights—things you’re most thankful for over the course of your life so far.

5. Go for a walk in nature. Use the time to adore God and celebrate all the ways He reveals Himself in creation.

6. Practice the daily office, where you set an alarm twice a day (in addition to your regular devotional time) and step away from whatever you’re doing for 1-5 minutes to focus on God. During this time, try meditating on a Psalm, repeating memorized scripture verses, or sitting in silence before God.

7. Over a week or two or three, memorize an entire chapter of the Bible. [1]

8. Go for a prayer walk around your community. Use the things you see to stimulate your prayers. For instance, if you see a school, pray for the kids and teachers there. If you see a traffic sign, pray that God would make you more sensitive to His leading in your life.

9. Isolate yourself for a day. Allow God to speak to you in the silence.

10. Read a pre-written prayer aloud to God. If you don’t have a prayer book, some of my favourites are: Guerrillas of Grace (Ted Loder), Wrestling the Light (Ted Loder), Space for God (Don Postema), and The Valley of Vision (Puritan Prayers).

11. Teach yourself sign language to a favourite hymn or worship song

12. Dance to a favourite worship song

13. Help a disabled or elderly person

14. Pray the “Jesus Prayer” repeatedly in the middle of the night. It goes like this: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” [3]

15. Choose a scripture passage you want to know more about. Look it up in at least 5 different reputable commentaries. Record what you learn in your journal.

16. Read the Bible in a different translation. For instance, if you usually use the ESV translation, use the NIV, or the NASB, or NKJV, or the NLT.

17. Start a “thanksgiving jar”. When you think of something you’re thankful for, write it on a slip of paper and place it in the jar. Open and read the notes in your jar next Thanksgiving.

18. Read the biography of a missionary. Gladys Aylward, Hudson Taylor, Geoffrey Bull, or Amy Carmichael are all great examples to start with.

19. Listen to a seminary lecture on the Old or New Testament. There are some great lectures on the internet. Make sure you listen to ones from a reputable source (i.e., you don’t want to be filling your mind with kooky theology). Right now, I’m listening to some lectures put out by Gordon Conwell seminary, in a series called “Dimensions of the Faith”.

20. Sometimes it can be difficult to connect with the Psalms, especially when the Psalmist is praying for deliverance from enemies, and you don’t really have any enemies. Try thinking of your fears as your enemies when you read these Psalms. Try starting with Psalm 3, 13, 17, or 71. [2] For example, you might read in Psalm 71:10-11, “For my enemies speak concerning me; those who watch for my life consult together and say, ‘God has forsaken him; pursue and seize him, for there is none to deliver him.’” You might pray, “Lord God, I feel as though my fears and worries are ganging up on me. They are telling me that You have forsaken me. They are pursuing and seizing me, and apart from you there is no one to deliver me.”

21. Look at a painting of a biblical scene. Meditate on the Bible story it depicts. Can you learn anything about the story based on what you see in the painting? Does the artist depict the story in a different way than you envisioned?

22. Look up the Christian calendar and observe an event. For instance, is it ascension day? Pentecost? Lent? What might you do to focus on Jesus in accordance with that event? [3]

23. Pray the Lord’s Prayer aloud, pausing at each line to prayerfully apply it to your own life.

24. Go on a fast from digital media (e.g., social media, email, television, radio) and use the extra time in your day to pray.

25. Pray through the main section of a newspaper for the people involved in each story. [3]

26. Give money to someone in your church in need. Do it anonymously if possible.

27. Use times of insomnia for prayer.

28. Send an encouraging note to a friend or pastor. [3]


Do you have other ideas? Feel free to share them in the comments section below!



NOTES

[1] If you're slow at memorization, try memorizing only one or two verses per week, but practice your verse(s) at least once a day. I’m very slow at memorizing. It took me half a year to get through Romans 8. Stick with it; scripture memorization can be one of the most rewarding activities!

[2] Specifically, Psalm 3:6-8; Psalm 13:3-4; Psalm 17:9-13; or Psalm 71:10-11 to start.

[3] Idea taken from Gary Thomas, Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul's Path to God, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010).


(Picture source)