I came across these thoughts on "devotions" by a man named Bill Goode as I was browsing some articles online.
"For many, "devotions" is a mixture of legalism, Keswick experience, a reading of any portion of scripture (like going to the scriptural drugstore of God's Word and trying on any remedy on the shelf), and just plain hope that something will spring off the pages to make them spiritual.
For some, having "devotions" is more sacred than other parts of life; somehow worship and thoughts about God can only occur at this time.
For many, it cannot be a time with study aids - commentaries, language helps, Bible dictionaries or concern for right hermeneutics.
And for some strange reason, it can never include a passage you are studying for your Bible or theology classes or for a message you are going to preach. Instead many believe there must be a time in prayer and an open Bible where, without any stab of accurate interpretation of the Word of truth, the participant does an end run around all study aids. (There cannot be any work involved - after all this is "devotional".)
The common idea of "devotions" also rests upon a type of legalism and a meritorious benefit. Because of it I am now worthy and capable of serving God and winning all of my battles today.
The fact is, merit only comes by grace, and my ability to serve only comes as I apply and obey accurately interpreted Scripture. Worship of Christ can take place during any Bible study I am doing or during any service for Him where I am consciously applying His Word.
Let me close with these important truths. I am in such desparate need of God's truth that every time I go to the Bible I must always hear, ready, study, memorize or meditate looking to know Him, praise and thank Him, or honour and obey Him. All times are sacred. I must be careful to accurately interpret the Scriptures at all times. Therefore, there can be no reading without study nor intake without thought of how to apply.
God's Word is the only means of knowledge and awareness of Him and How I can please Him. There are no end runs around thoughtful, purposeful, careful study of His Word. His Spirit who gave us His sword always uses the mind (1 Cor. 14:15) and invites our regular careful search that we may learn of His ways in order to know Him, praise Him, change and grow in His likeness.
If this English word "devotions" has taken on wrong connotations for you, it would probably be helpful to return to Biblical terms such as hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, worshipping, honouring, and obeying God's Word.
God grant us a hunger and thirst for His likeness so that we prayerfully and thoughtfully approach His Word to know Him, praise, honour, thank and obey Him.
So that was a large portion of the article but something that I've often thought about and sometimes struggled with. The whole idea of what Goode talked about, the legalistic idea of devotions, like they are some magical spiritual act that we think will give us merit in the eyes of God. Obviously we don't think that outright, but that is the underlying purpose with which we approach the Word of God. How callous and foolish that is of us....of me.
I really like his idea of approaching the Word of God to hear, study, read, memorize, honour, obey and apply what we read and interpret from God's Word - as opposed to simply doing my "7 minute devotion".
Oh God, let me not take your Word so lightly and callously that I would think to approach it without the intent to study and correctly understand it and then to apply it.
What a gift you have given to me - your very own Word.
Help me to, as Goode prayed, hunger and thirst for Your likeness so that I approach Your Word with the right intents and motivations.