Fr. Dale Matson
“It is the saying of holy men that, if we wish to be perfect, we have nothing more to do than to perform the ordinary duties of the day well.” Blessed John Henry Newman
A daily devotional is the single most important thing that can be done by a Christian as the first act of the day, on an ongoing basis. A dentist may disagree with this but teeth are temporal and a soul is eternal. Using a devotional is like a swimmer in a pool, taking a deep cleansing breath as she turns at the end of the lap. I have begun my day with a devotional reading, followed by journaling every day for nearly twenty years. Starting daily in this way is a statement of priorities. All time spent with God is not taken from the day before us. It is time returned tenfold. It is saying above all, that you are dedicated to a relationship with God and committed to maintaining and deepening that relationship.
When an individual begins a devotional using Scripture including prayer, that person is not just connecting with the Word of God. That person is not alone but is a participant in the Body of Christ, the universal church forever celebrating the Glory of God. The person is connected to the true vine Jesus Christ where he is not just transfused but transformed. Individuals are reuniting with their ancestors and the saints who have preceded them on this earth.
In beginning each day with a devotional there a sense of focus, meaning, pace and purpose. Why am I here? What really matters? Can I make a difference? It is a time of peace in a world of chaos. It is portable and when we travel we can take the devotional with us. It is a matter of being in the moment. It is living in the real world that has no boundaries not a virtual world where others exist in a few lines of a text message on a small screen and quickly are ignored or dismissed.
The Christian life is intended to be directed, have meaning, and be empowered by God the Holy Spirit. It is a life intended by our Creator to include reflection, self-examination and service to others. When we leave our worship service, we are dismissed by the Deacon with the charge, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” Our response is, “Thanks be to God.”
Commitment to a daily devotional introduces discipline into a life that would profit from discipline when it is absent or increased discipline when it is needed. The devotional can become a safe and familiar harbor from which each day’s journey begins.
Finally, the devotional sets the tone for our entire day. The devotional is done intentionally, consciously and directed to God. It is a good work that affects the entire cosmos. It becomes incense, carried with us throughout the day, anointing with its fragrance, the ordinary secular daily acts and makes them sacred. It is not time spent alone but in solitude. This is a frightening idea for some, since much of their bustle and distractedness is an attempt to avoid the reality that surrounds them on all sides.
A devotional can be the first step for some in obtaining a personal life of order, accountability and more.