5 Steps to Meaningful Devotional Time


Do you want to spend more time growing your personal faith? Are you wanting to dive into more intentional devotion time? Are you having trouble getting started?

I’m no super Christian, but I do intentionally spend time 3-4 days a week diving into the Bible, praying, journaling, reflecting, and seeking God’s voice on various things.

So whether you want to do the “quiet time” thing or change up your morning devotion time, I want to share with you what works for me. Maybe it can help you.

Here are my five steps to meaningful devotional time:

1. Pray a Psalm

This is a new practice for me. I learned about praying the psalms after reading Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It’s something he encouraged his community to do in their personal and communal devotions.

Bonhoeffer says when we read the Psalter, we’re in effect, praying the prayers of Christ. And in turn, “The more deeply we grow into the psalms and the more often we pray them as our own, the more simple and rich will our prayer become.”

How do I pray the psalms? I simply turn to one and read it out loud. Sometimes it resonates with my own spirit, while other times I know I’m reading it on behalf of someone else. It has become a powerful piece in my devotional time.

2. Read a New Testament Passage

I just finished reading the Gospel of Luke (one chapter each day) and I’m currently working through Acts (again, one chapter at a time). If you’re new to devotional time, then I recommend starting in the New Testament. You can start dipping into the Old Testament when you feel ready.

What do I do as I read the scripture? I use a pencil or pen and mark what stands out to me. Sometimes I’ll underline a passage or jot a note in the margin of my Bible.

3. Write and Reflect

After I pray the psalms and read a passage from the scripture, I write and reflect on it. I write in a journal because it’s the most effective way for me to process information. Maybe you’re an artist. If so, draw or paint your responses.

But in my journal, I tend to reflect on these questions:

  • What do I notice about these stories?
  • What does this say about the character of God?
  • What does this say about me?
  • What does this call me to do?
  • Who does this encourage me to be today?

For me, this is the most transformative part of my devotional time. I encourages me to interact with what I’m reading and what God’s saying to me through the scripture.

In a way, it’s about putting God’s thoughts in my head. It’s been said, “I cannot afford to have a thought in my head that’s not in God’s.” This is about transforming the way I think about God, myself, and others.

4. Pray for Others

We all have friends and family who could use prayer. I spend a few minutes quietly praying over my friends and family. People are sick, hurting, in need of jobs, or encouragement.

Take time lifting others up. We’re called to pray for one another, so do it. Don’t just give your friends lip-service.

5. Listen to what God’s saying

This is probably the hardest thing for any of us to do. But I take time to sit and listen.

What is God speaking right now? The reality is that the Spirit of God is always whispering something to you and me, we just have to listen for it.

Sometimes it’s audible. Sometimes it’s a thought that pops into your head and you’re like, there’s no way I could’ve thought that up on my own. Sometimes it’s a song. Sometimes it’s a dream. Sometimes it’s a vision.

Force yourself to be attentive to what God’s saying, not just in your devotional time, but throughout your day. Write it down and carry it with you.

What do you do?

I hope you found this helpful. Again, I just shared this to give you a glimpse into something that works for me. But perhaps you do something different.

What does your devotional time look like? What rituals help you connect with God and what God’s saying? Let me know in the comments.

And before you go, feel free to download this devotion guide to print off and help walk you through what’s above.


About Matthew Snyder

Matt is a thirty-something writer and young adult minister. He lives in Atlanta with his wife, Merridith, and their dog, Finn.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Matt!
    I do essentially the same steps but the order is a bit different. I spend time listening for God to speak after reading the passage for the day then write.

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