Why use a daily devotional if we have all we need in the Bible?
This is a really good question, and one believers should consider. After all, the Bible is God’s breathed-out Word of truth that is sufficient in itself for all of life and our pursuit of godliness (Heb. 4:12). So what’s the point of using another daily resource if the Bible is our nourishment?
Before we explore three reasons why devotionals are useful, it is important that we make two clarifications. One, the Bible is indeed sufficient in itself, and the Holy Spirit speaks through the Word first and foremost (2 Peter 1:21). In other words, bypassing the Bible in favor of some other method of spiritual growth will not lead to the maturity, fruitfulness, or living knowledge of Jesus Christ that comes from soaking in Scripture. When we read the Bible, we encounter the living God, as He speaks to us personally and reveals to us the glory of His Son, Jesus Christ. No other Christian text, resource, or method is the very voice of God recorded in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Two, not all devotionals are created equal. It is important that we use discernment when choosing devotionals to read alongside our Bibles. Scripture says that false gospels and unhelpful teachings exist that do not take us deeper into the Bible but, instead, cause us to wander away from the truth (Galatians 1:6-10). When choosing devotionals, look for content that is biblically true, points you to Scripture, and teaches the whole gospel of Jesus Christ.
Without further ado, here are three reasons to use a daily devotional:
1. MOTIVATION: Devotionals help us approach the Bible in a fresh way.
If we are honest, we’ll admit that our affections for Scripture tend to wax and wane. Because our glorification in Christ is not yet complete, we still fight the desires of the flesh: distractions, laziness, selfishness, and more. This struggle means that we will have days when reading the Bible seems more like a chore than a delight.
Biblical, gospel-centered devotionals can be a means of coming to the Bible in a fresh way. If I struggle to find the desire to exercise, finding a creative way to approach physical activity will encourage me to dive in, and I will grow stronger as a result. Similarly, a compelling, truth-filled devotional can help to lift us out of the apathy we sometimes feel towards reading and studying the Bible.
2. INSIGHT: Devotionals help us to understand the truths of the Bible in a deeper way.
I can practice playing the piano every day, which is the most useful discipline for growing my skill set, but this does not mean that watching instructional YouTube videos in addition to practicing is wrong or unhelpful. Devotionals, in a similar vein, may help to enlighten our understanding of what certain passages, books, or accounts from the Bible mean. The preaching of God’s Word in the local church is an important means through which the body of Christ is taught the Holy Scriptures; God also uses the teaching gifts of writers and pastors to illuminate biblical truth and, ultimately, to point us back to the Bible.
Again, devotionals are not to be read in place of the Bible; rather, they provide a unique, additional means to help exalt our gaze to Christ. Think of devotionals as Bible companions, not Bible replacements.
3. APPLICATION: Devotionals help us to apply the Bible in a personal way.
Finally, the Holy Spirit can use devotionals to guide our hearts in the application of God’s Word. Sometimes, it is difficult to fully grasp what the Spirit is teaching through the biblical authors and, therefore, we may struggle to understand how to apply God’s truth to our lives. A devotional rooted in Scripture can help unpack the Word through illustrations and meditative questions that compel readers to think more deeply about what they just read: What does this passage reveal about God? Jesus? Myself? What am I to do in response?
These are just a few thoughts on why solid devotionals can be helpful for believers who are first and foremost digging into the Bible.