The last weekend, the Lord has given me the privilege to minister to the young folks in Mumbai. During the Q&A session, someone asked, “How to stay steadfast in my devotion to God?”
Don’t you suppose this is an intense struggle many of us often pass through?
Enlarging Ordinary Devotions
There are many who disappointedly ask, “I went to numerous seminars, camps and church meetings. I heard powerful messages, was set on fire for God and made great commitments to change. However, just after few days, the fire subsided and I returned to the same pathetic condition. I lost hope to change. How can I have my heart continuously burning for the Lord?”
In fifteen years of my Christian life, after experiencing many such topsy-turvy moments, I have learned a secret, or rather a fact—the way to keep fanning our inner flame for God, the means to steadfastly maintain and enhance our spiritual fervency, is through consistent private devotions.
The seventeenth-century Anglican, Jeremy Taylor, well counseled, “If thou meanest to enlarge thy religion, do it rather by enlarging thine ordinary devotions than thy extraordinary.” In other words, “If you think about enlarging your spiritual life, do it rather by cultivating your daily ordinary devotions than by extending your extraordinary meetings.”
Too many of us think of going here and there for special meetings and seminars to get our hearts set on fire for God. However important they are, such fire dies soon if we neglect our daily devotional time with the Lord, for it is here that our spiritual fervency is preserved and boosted.
Fanning through Spiritual Disciplines
We live by eating our daily bread at home, not by occasional appetizing food in the restaurants. Likewise, we live by our personal daily quiet time [not short and hurried but sufficient time] before the Lord, not by occasional spiritual meetings and conferences. The latter is only a supplement, not a substitute.
Nothing can take the place of private devotions to guard and stir up our spiritual fervency in the Lord. It is through this private time with the Father, our Lord Jesus, during His earthly ministry, kept the fire increasingly burning within Him to fulfill the will of God [see Mark 1:35ff; Lu. 4:42ff].
Few days ago, our family went to visit my in-laws. Since the climate was too cold, I sat outside with my children, warming ourselves before the wood fire. Whenever the fire kept going down, we kept putting the wood in the fire and enjoyed the warmth as the fire kept rising from declining into a smoke.
I think, it is the same with our spiritual fervency—whenever the fire goes down, we daily put the wood of prayer and meditation of God’s word in order to keep burning for the Lord. To burn continuously for God we need to keep ourselves close to God through the means of spiritual disciplines.
Fight for Secret Devotions
By God’s grace, we need to fight daily against all the distractions and business for the private and adequate meeting with the Lord every morning.
I have observed this in my life more than hundred times—whenever I neglected my devotional time with the Lord, my heart turned from burning as a fire into a stench of smoke; I lost passion for God, sensitivity towards the Spirit, joy of the Lord and zeal to serve and encourage people.
Therefore, I fight daily, by God’s efficient grace, to discipline my personal devotional time before the Lord, spending more than two hours early in the morning, meditating on God's word, praying and worshiping, so that the fire on my altar would keep burning for God. C.H. Spurgeon rightly said, "Secret devotion is the very essence, evidence, and barometer, of vital and experimental religion."
Of course, this fight is a delightful battle and not drudgery, for the fruit of private devotions is increased spiritual fervency and overwhelming joy in the Lord. And this devotional time is not confined to the early morning; this definite time of devotion should enable our walk with God and sharpen our consciousness of Him throughout the day.
Yes, there are times of dryness, but I have learned not to give up at such moments; by God’s gracious help, I get restored to the Fountain of Life and daily get that fuel from the Lord, my Rock, to keep burning for His glory.
Caution: Spiritual disciplines are only the means to grow in Christ; the source of all fruit is Christ and Christ alone.
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