How to get out of a devotional rut

Connecting with God when you feel disconnected

I’m writing this post today more as a reminder to myself than anything else. Because I’m in a rut.

A few months ago I was on a devotional “high”. I woke up excited to spend time with God, I was gaining insights from my time in the Word, my prayer life was consistent, and I felt like I had solved the devotional riddle. I was listening to God. He was hearing me out. I was learning things. I was becoming a better Christian and Pastor because of it.

But, today, just a few months later, I’ve been in a rut. I’ve caught myself looking at my phone for an hour before opening up my Bible – “I just want to look something up real quick first” I tell myself. My prayers are fewer and farther between. The insights I had been gleaning on a daily basis have seemed to dry up. My feelings about time spent with God could be summarized by “indifferent” My time with Him could be characterized as “hollow”.

I wish there was a magic bullet to get on track. I’m convinced there’s not. The spiritual highs were not meant to last. And, anyway, God does some of His best work in the “ruts” of our lives, when we are slogging our way through life.

So, this post is not about capturing the magic of a moment. It’s not about manufacturing some ultra-spiritual moment each morning. It’s about how to keep drinking from the well of God’s Word even when it’s not easy or fun.

How to get out of a devotional rut

  1. Try something new. For example, for the last few months my devotion time has looked like this: First, I open with a prayer from “The Valley of Vision”. Second, I read one chapter from the Old Testament and one from the New. Third, I write down my thoughts and reflections. Fourth, I pray. Now, I love that habit. It has been a blessing. But, maybe it’s time for a new book of prayers. Maybe I ought to try reading 2-5 chapters of a single book instead. Maybe I need to go back to the “Pray As You Go App”.
  2. Listen to someone else’s voice. One of the biggest problems I find in my own devotional life is that I get tired of listening to my own voice. After a while my prayers all sound the same. My reflections from the Word are on repeat. My journal entries all look similar. Sometimes (well, maybe more than sometimes) you need to listen to the voices of other Christians. Maybe it’s a podcast, a book, or online sermons. The danger in devotions is that you are just hearing your own voice and your own voice is only saying what you want to hear. Break that cycle.
  3. Invite someone else in. Maybe it’s a spouse, a child, or a friend. Meet for coffee once a week. Set time apart with your family before dinner. Listen to their thoughts and reflections. Hear what God is speaking to you through them.
  4. Try a new time or place. Sometimes our schedules and needs changed. I’m a morning person and I’ve always found mornings to be the best time to spend with God. But, sometimes life changes. Due to routines, a job, or just our mindset, sometimes we need to mix things up. Instead of doing devotions from bed, try the kitchen table, or instead of the couch try doing them at lunch in the office.
  5. Don’t give up. We all want to return to the spiritual high. And when we don’t see results or any “Return On Investment” we think about giving up or that we could find a more “productive” way to spend our time. But, keep going! God is speaking even through the boring, mundane days. His Word is powerful – trust that it is so! He hears your prayers even when you feel like you’re talking into an echo chamber. Don’t give up.

Some ideas

  • Copy Scripture. I find that just copying verses that stick out and speak to me can be powerful and a great way to focus.
  • Read a book of the Bible straight through.
  • Find a new Bible reading plan. You can find a lot on Bible Gateway
  • Prayer journal. Write out your prayers instead of just speaking them.
  • Use a guided journal like our Prayer Journal
  • Draw. Are you artsy? Draw/paint/color the messages you hear. Consider an art journaling Bible.
  • Try the Pray As You Go app
  • If your church publishes their sermons online or in a podcast, try listening to and reflecting on them.

*Here is a related article on how to read the Bible, and here is one on how to pray.

Have you liked what you’ve read and want to read more? Check out our little book called “Growing Up: In, with, and under Jesus” on Amazon.

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