Discipline of Devotion
How is your devotional life? Tough question sometimes! This chapter challenges us to be disciplined in our devotional life. Hughes brings up several elements that are sometimes not thought of when we think of devotion. In chapter 8, he will challenge us to have discipline in the area of prayer.
So how IS your devotional life? As he begins this chapter, Hughes makes the assertion that we as men struggle with areas of devotion. We could respond to this section with defensiveness, or we can choose to see this as a challenge and a discipline that we can work on in the gym of devotion. As he begins the topic, his caution is good to remember. “One’s prayer and devotional life cannot be reduced to a few simple rules.” So if we are looking for a simple formula of a few rules to follow that will produce spiritual maturity, we will be disappointed. Rather these are disciplines that if practiced with a heart seeking God will grow a heart devoted to God.
The first area Hughes encourages us to work on is the area of meditation. This discipline is the process of deeply reading, listening to, and processing God’s Word. It is more than just a quick reading, but “praying that He will blast through our granite-block heads so we truly hear God’s Word.” It is incredibly easy to read a chapter or two and come away unchanged without even thinking of how God’s Word is intended to challenge and change us.
When we meditate however, we are mulling over and “muttering” God’s Word all day. This allows God to apply His Word to every activity we are in. If I am muttering God’s Word as I drive to work, it is in my mind when I am tempted to get angry or impatient. If I am muttering God Ephesians 5 as I come home, I am much more likely to be present for my wife and children.
Men of Destiny
Meditating on God’s Word directly impacts everything we do! This takes work. It may mean printing a verse that you can take with you. I agree with Hughes that it probably means memorizing a passage. The title of our blog is Men of Destiny. When we meditate, keep the Word on our lips all day, we are being men of Destiny! Hughes lists three effects of meditation, revival of our soul, wisdom, and it increases our faith.
I’m sold! Joshua 1:8 says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” What verse will you meditate on this Tuesday? “Murmur it. Memorize it. Pray it. Say it. Share it.”
The next area of devotion mentioned is the discipline of confession. The discipline of confession is not so much a set time of the day exercise, but an anytime of the day exercise! Whenever God reveals our sin to us, we are to stop and confess. I appreciate Hughes’ instruction to be proactive and pray that God will reveal sin that needs to be dealt with. “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” – Psalm 139:23-24. Not allowing God to search us and deal with sin is like forgetting to take out the garbage under the sink – it stinks the next day and will until I take it out. Unconfessed sin stinks up our lives and keeps God from working in our hearts.
The third area of devotion that Hughes brings up is adoration. He is speaking of being disciplined and intentional in giving God reverence and worship. I was particularly challenged with how concentration relates to reverence. “Our minds must be fully engaged. Luther said, ‘To let your face blabber one thing while your heart dwells on another is just tempting God . . . Any and every thing, if it is to be well done, demands the entire man, all his mind and faculties.’” If we are to revere God, we must focus on Him. I’ll be working on carving out more times of focus and concentration.
Hughes then encourages us to spend time contemplating God and His attributes and worshiping our Lord. “The height of devotion is reached when reverence and contemplation produce passionate worship.” I’m looking forward to worshiping with God’s people on Sunday morning! Let’s come ready to revere God Almighty.
Finally, the last area of devotion mentioned is submission. We often think of submission as what happens after devotion rather than part of devotion. In Isaiah 6, Isaiah is awestruck at the glory of God. Confession happens. Worship happens. And then in verse 8, submission happens! “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”” Part of our devotion is a heart fully submitted to God’s will and work. Not my will. Not my will.
I want to end this week by quoting the last paragraph of the chapter. It is a clear challenge to men to stand up and be men.
“The reason many men never have an effective devotional life is, they never plan for it. They do not know what it is because they have never taken the time to find out. They do not pray because they do not set aside the time. Their character never rises to that of Christ’s because they do not expose their lives to His pure light. Their wills stay crooked because they do not tie into Him. The question for prayerless men is a very masculine one: Are we man enough to meditate, to confess, to adore, to submit, to sweat and endure?”
Wow! . . . So are we?
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