Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name. Psalm 86:11 (ESV)
Recently, the word devotion has caught my attention while I was doing some research for our upcoming Care Group study on the topic of relationships. In many readings and sermons online, it is mentioned as a key element for us as Christians to develop the right attitude to love God, and to love a guy or girl in a dating relationship. Plus, I believe this word relates with the phrase devotional (or quiet time, a period that we spend with God through reading the Bible and prayer).
The Oxford Dictionary definition of “devotion” means love, loyalty, or enthusiasm or activity. As I looked deeper into its meaning, this word in Biblical Greek connects the word “good” or “well” with the phrase “to be close beside” (according from the book Single, Dating, Engaged, Married – Navigating life and love in the modern age by Ben Stuart – P.36). The book further exemplified its meaning with an image of a person sitting and listening to someone attentively (passively); while also tending to his or her desires (actively).
What does the Bible say on how to build this type of devotion to God? Psalm 86:11, written by King David, fully captures what it looks like for a person that has a devoted heart to God. I have split the verse into 4 sections that helped me to reflect with my current devotional life:
- Teach me your way, O Lord: David first addresses our attitude in spending time with God. As we read and listen to the Bible; do we ask God to teach us directly as we begin to meet Him? Sometimes I tend to feel like devotional time is more like finding answers on Wikipedia, rather than meeting with God. Let us be reminded that our Father is a loving Heavenly Father and not Wikipedia, and He loves us and wants the best for us! Instead of treating our time with God as one to download knowledge, let us be like little children coming to their father saying, “I want to spend quality time and learn something new from you today!” (Proverbs 13:24; Hebrews 12:7-11)
- Walk in your truth: After hearing God’s words, sometimes the teachings get stuck in our head but don’t go deep into our heart. How should we make His word become alive and active? David asks us to walk into God’s truth, to make an effort to apply His truth into our life. Another Bible verse that comes to mind is Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (ESV). Many times, we fail to walk into His truth because we prefer our ways and preferences (or we are simply too lazy); we are simply not open to God’s leading because we want to be in control (or we want to stay in our comfort zone). Let us learn to trust God with His truth – that it is loving and does not fail – and He will guide us through all the ups and downs in life with His truth.
- Unite my heart: David seems to know the biggest challenge to letting God’s truth sink in and be applied in our spiritual life is the resistance from our own hearts and desires. We are easily tempted with goals that we want to achieve in this world and distracted by worries that come along with them. In my devotional time with God, I can see my heart wandering to social media and work emails; I allow distractions to come in rather than listening to God. That’s why David asks us to pray for our hearts to be “united” (or an “undivided heart” in NKJV); to fully focus on loving God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strengths (Luke 10:27) and approach our devotional and prayer time without distraction.
- Fear Your name: Many people find the word fear confusing. Why do we need to fear God if He is a loving Father that wants the best for us and accepts us as we are? The word fear seems to be the same as from Proverbs 1:7 written by Solomon: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, fools despise wisdom and instruction.” In their wisdom, King David and Solomon remind us that we are His creation and servants, we are not in control. We are to humble ourselves as we pray and seek His presence daily. We are to respect God fully in life and worship Him alone. Let us not only give thanks for the blessings that He gives us daily, but also treasure our time with God and show respect for His sovereignty in our lives.
As I am being refreshed by this word “devotion”, pray that it will also help our church seek Him first and have a deeper relationship with Him. May it be a new season where we come to God as the ultimate source of life (John 4:23) and be a source of life for others in our relationships with others.
Let us practice devotion in action by:
- Praising God for His faithfulness in loving us as His child;
- Asking God to help us to have deeper devotion and desire to connect with Him daily.