The Dancing Puritan

Monday, August 7, 2017

Avoid Compartmentalizing Your Devotional Practices

Susannah Spurgeon writes of the temptation to either confine one's devotional practises to the Lord's Day church services or to neatly compartmentalize them into their daily schedule. While one should not deny the importance of either congregational or private spiritual disciplines, such practises, isolated from a larger devotional life, are empty. At church one may "perform various pious genuflexions" only to leave the church building and then "cram into the rest of the day, and all the subsequent days of the week, as much of gain and greed and worldly enjoyment as is possible." However, for those who go a step further and include with their weekly visits to church a daily regimen of Bible reading and prayer, they are also in danger of compartmentalizing their faith by confining their devotional exercises to a set time each day.

Susannah quotes Andrew Murray:

How much of our Christianity suffers from the fact that it is confined to certain times and places! A man, who seeks to pray earnestly in the church, or in the closet, spends the greater part of the week or the day in a spirit entirely at variance with that in which he prayed. His worship is the work of a fixed place or hour, not the blessed outcome of his whole spiritual being.
Do you see yourself in either context? Is your devotional life confined to weekly church activities? Or do you limit your time in Scripture reading and prayer to a set time each day? Again, it is important to worship on the Lord's Day and to set aside daily times that are designed to focus on God. However, one's devotional life should be more comprehensive than set times and places. How often do we leave our "quiet time" to go about our daily work only to find that our piety from earlier in the day is swallowed up in the day's demands?

Susannah lamented that her high thoughts of God earlier in the day were often soon forgotten:

I have allowed the fogs and gloom's of earthly cares, aye, and even the smoke from the altar of sacrifice and service, to obscure my soul's vision, and hide, for a time at least, that glorious goal towards which my heart pressed when I felt myself to be in the presence of God.

Do you relate to Susannah's lament?

How can you fight against compartmentalizing your exercises in piety?

Confess your sin and  struggle of compartmentalizing your devotional practises. 

Meditate on God's Word. Meditation is closely connected to memorization. When you hide God's Word in your heart, then you can meditate on it throughout the day (see Psalm 119). Psalm 16:8 is a reminder that we are to keep God always before us. Memorization and meditation will help to fulfill that command.

Remember that the Holy Spirit indwells you and "a different state of things is not only possible, but it is enjoined upon you."  The Holy Spirit will help you to be God-focused throughout the day. 

Ask God to help you to walk with Him throughout the day. 

Prepare your mind each morning for the fact that "the burden and heat of the day" will certainly "oppress both soul and body."

Engage your daily activities by purposefully seeking to apply Scripture to your decision making, conversations, and all other activities.

Susannah asserted:

What a revolution there would be in all Christian circles if each one of us carried into every though and word and action of the day the fragrance and freshness of our seasons of sweet communion with our Master! It is good to talk with God; it is far better to walk with Him.

Idea for the post and quotes are from Susannah Spurgeon, A Basket of Summer Fruit.
Ray Rhodes, Jr. is the author of the upcoming book: Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon, Moody Publishers. Contact Ray via Facebook here if you would like to schedule him to speak for your next event.