The word “devotions” has gotten a bad rap. “Devotions” are often tied to boring rituals of Bible reading and long prayers, when the “boring” piece is usually the fault of the person doing the Bible reading or praying.
God is certainly not boring; he is anything but. So how do we resurrect the practice of devotions, and how can artists make this essential discipline a unique expression of their gifts and calling?
I have had the blessing of growing up in a Christ-centered home with parents who value and pursue a relationship with God. Since my childhood I have heard and seen them listen to and read the Bible, pray, and do ministry.
My own experience has followed theirs. I have never second-guessed the need to read the Bible or pray, but I have often missed the opportunity devotions provide to me as an artist.
I remember many sessions of prayer and Bible reading where my mind would go wandering through a to-do list, through a movie landscape, or into a concert hall. That is, if I had not fallen asleep already!
My dad speaks of the reality of joy in a discipline being on the other side of perseverance, but I often had difficulty finding that joy. I seemed to get lost in the perseverance stage.
Recently, however, I have found a new joy and peace in my relationship with God, and that joy and peace has filled my devotions more and more. Here are a few things to consider if you are looking to improve your time with God.
- Find a quiet place by yourself and away from distraction. I find it best for me to use an analog Bible (read: paper and cover book) but I do sometimes use my YouVersion app. The less electronics the better, which will take some discipline at first. Eventually your heart and mind will crave that silence and freedom from being “plugged in.”
- Set your heart on knowing God. I do not mean knowing as in going to the library, but knowing as in knowing his heart and knowing how he looks at and reaches out to you.
- Ask him to reveal himself to you before you read the Bible or pray. He usually doesn’t show up in a vision, but you may find your heart and mind drawn to particular words in the Bible passage you are reading. The Bible promises that if you seek God with all your heart you will find him.
For the Artist
Here is where devotions become really fun. The options are endless.
Just a note for the perfectionists among us: Don’t judge your devotional art harshly. God is not looking for perfection in your relationship with him; he is looking for your heart.
- Write a song based on a trait of God you find in the Bible passage you are reading.
- Paint a picture to represent your prayer to God.
- Write your prayers in poetic form.
- Build something out of Play-Doh or Legos to represent your response to God.
- Rewrite a Bible passage in your own words.
This morning I wrote a song based on God’s pursuing love. That phrase set in my heart yesterday and showed up again in the Psalms I read this morning. Since I said that God is not about perfection, I am going to post the lyrics here. They are only an hour old.
Love of God so great and strong,
triumphant over fear;
reigning over hope and faith
you sing salvation’s song.
Pursuing us through sin and death
and climbing Calvary’s tree,
I will sing my whole life long
of how you rescued me.
Leaving heaven’s throne and crown
for swaddling clothes and hay,
laying down his kingly rights
redeeming love came down.
Love exchanged a golden rod
for rugged wood and nails,
set aside his purple robe
for clothes of dust and blood.
Love destroyed the chains of death,
escaped the tomb of stone.
Power of God and Son of Man,
your love has rescued us.
Do something artistic during your devotions and post the result below. Remember, perfection is not the focus; responding to God is what matters.