Is spending time in God’s Word something you do out of obligation more than passion? For many Christians, personal devotions are a “have-to” instead of a “get-to”.
Gretchen Fleming understands. She used to read her Bible inconsistently and didn’t really enjoy it. But that changed. Here’s her story of how God gave her a passion to get into His Word.
How I Became Passionate About God’s Word
I would never have anticipated it. What I used to begrudgingly labor through became not only the favorite part of my day but the thrill of my life.
Growing up, I learned early on that I should spend time with God in His Word but I never seemed able to become consistent. Even when I was reading my Bible, more days than not, I must admit that I didn’t truly enjoy it.
So how did all that change?
I learned what was possible!
The Possibility of a Passionate Relationship
I remember watching Henry Blackaby teaching one of his sessions in “Experiencing God”. When he spoke of reading his Bible, he mentioned that at all times concurrently, he is in one of the gospels because “that is where my Jesus is”. When he said that, his voice broke with emotion!
Never before had I witnessed such intimacy and devotion. It opened my eyes to what was possible in a personal relationship with Christ. I learned that faith isn’t just about salvation and eternity but a passionate relationship this side of heaven with the Lord.
Once I knew what was possible, I set out to find that love for myself.
Praying for Passion
About this same time, God taught me how I could become consistent in my devotional time with Him. If it was His will that I read my Bible daily, growing in my knowledge and love for Him, then surely He could help me with that goal.
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him (1 John 5:14-15).”
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment (Matthew 22:36-38).
So, I began asking God for a passion for Him and His Word. I used Scripture to pray this prayer for several weeks. To remind myself, I placed index cards around my home.
God, being faithful as ever, answered my prayers abundantly!
Persistence Leads to Passion
I went from not wanting to read my Bible to enjoying it immensely! My love for the Lord and time in His Word grew and grew and my life has never been the same. I can honestly say that my time with Him is the thrill of each day and my life as a whole!
What helped me the most was wanting this passion more than anything and using Scripture to pray for what I wanted, which was in accordance with God’s will. If I had only prayed this prayer for a few days, then I don’t believe I would have experienced the overwhelming response that I still enjoy to this day.
Once we understand what we can have through Jesus, having anything less than that just won’t do. That’s why I follow hard after Christ.
Because I know the extent of what He is offering of Himself, it is worth every ounce of effort I make in order to spend time with Him.
A Peek at My Devotional Time
The way I orchestrate my devotional time has evolved over time. For the past few years, I enjoy beginning my time with a gratitude journal as I drink my first coffee for the day.
Morning devotions have worked best for me even though I wouldn’t consider myself a “morning” person. God taught me early on that I needed to get filled up with Him before my day began.
I write in my gratitude journal what I am grateful for from the previous day. Then I read in my chronological Bible.
Some years I read the entire Bible through and other years, I just read the gospels or epistles. I vary my routine so it doesn’t get too predictable.
Then I end with prayer time on my knees in my dark closet. Praying on my knees is uncomfortable so I am less likely to become distracted. Oftentimes, I pray aloud to keep my attention focused.
Personal Relationship vs. Perfectionism
I am always looking for what God is trying to teach me, but what I think is most important is to enjoy God. I have the tendency to become too goal-oriented, so I have to remind myself that loving and enjoying God is more important than my Christian to-do list for growth.
Early on, I made the mistake of over-focusing on my sanctification at the expense of trying to use God for my quest for perfectionism. I learned that He does not want to be used for my own agenda.
If I seek God with a pure heart then He will deal with my imperfections as He sees fit. I need to let Him be in charge of that and follow His lead.
What has worked best for me is to be mindful of any recurring themes God is using in my life for teachable moments. I usually write those lessons down in my gratitude journal just to cement them in my memory.
Devotionals, in general, are not usually a part of my routine, but one is close at hand during seasons of struggle. “Streams in the Desert” by L.B. Cowman is a treasure of mine. It is full of wisdom and comfort.
The Thrill of My Life
God has more than answered my prayers from all those years ago. He has exceeded my wildest expectations and for that, I can never thank Him enough!
He is the thrill of my life and my friend. He can be for you as well!
Gretchen’s passion is to follow hard after Jesus, knowing He is the treasure of a lifetime and worth every minute she commits to Him. God’s Word has been life-changing for her through the most trying times—a great source of strength, wisdom, and truth. Active in women’s ministry for over 25 years, she loves to see Jesus change lives as He’s changed hers.
As an international speaker, she has had the privilege of teaching women of an underground church in China and village women in Peru. She is an active national and local speaker for conferences, retreats and women’s events. As a Bible teacher, Gretchen has written/taught Bible studies for the past 20 years. As a writer, she actively blogs through the chronological Bible at GretchenFleming.com.
Her first book “Press On! Encouragement to Keep You Moving When You Feel Overwhelmed” is available on Amazon.
Gretchen teaches and mentors women locally through her church, The Church of Eleven22, which is the sixth fastest growing church in the U.S. She is the editor and a writer for their Disciple Group Curriculum. Currently, she is on the board of Women for Christ, a ministry that brings speakers to Jacksonville to share the Gospel and encourage women in their faith. This ministry will celebrate 35 years in 2020.
The Women Wielding The Word Series
Women Wielding The Word
Sharing stories of how God has impacted our lives encourages us and builds our faith. It’s one of my favorite things to do!
This series is meant to be an encouragement to you. I’ve asked other bloggers to share what their time with God looks like and how the Bible has impacted their lives. No two stories are the same. Every woman’s devotional life looks different.
Read about other “Women Wielding the Word” in this series here.
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