George Mueller wrote:
“The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was…how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished…”
What will you do to get your soul into a happy state each day? Here are 12 resources that I have used (with a couple of exceptions) and recommend – to help you cultivate a deeper devotional life in 2016.
1. Be Devoted to Prayer
What’s so helpful about this sermon (transcript included) is the practical tips for praying. Where many resources explain why we should pray, this one explains how. John Piper uses the FADES acronym to promote prayer that is:
F – Free and Formed
A – Alone and Assembled
D – Desperate and Delighted
E – Explosive and Extended
S – Spontaneous and Scheduled
Read this article for new ideas on different ways to pray, particularly if your prayer life is feeling a bit stale.Find out more
Extra: Check out this extended resource on prayer from John Piper.
2. Why We Neglect Our Bibles
What are the reasons why you don’t read the Bible? In this article, John Piper addresses the 4 most common reasons:
- “It seems so irrelevant to my life.”
- “I don’t have time.”
- “I go to church every Sunday.”
- “I find it confusing.”
Read this article if any of these reasons resonate with you.Find out more
3. Better Than Before
This is a best-selling book about how habits are formed. My wife and I have read this book and it’s fuelled discussion about what habits we want to foster, and how we’ll build them into our lives.
Read this book for advice on how to get a new habit up and running in 2016.Find out more
4. How I Started Praying the Bible
Don Whitney has some of the best resources around for cultivating a deeper devotional life. In this article, Whitney writes:
“Jesus prayed psalms on the cross (see Matt. 27:46 and Lk. 23:46). Followers of Jesus in the Book of Acts (4:23-26) prayed psalms. And many prayerful people since Bible times (such as George Müller) practiced praying the Bible. Regrettably, I’d never been taught this simple, satisfying method of taking the words of Scripture and turning them into prayer.”
Read this if you want to learn a practice that will in Whitney’s words, “kindle your cold heart.”Find out more
Extra: Whitney has recently written a book on this theme of praying the Bible.
5. A Body of Divinity
This (free) book by Thomas Watson is widely regarded a puritan classic, and has been a terrific accompaniment to my devotional times.
Read this book as an accompaniment to your daily devotional time.Find out more
In my opinion, the best app to help you pray.
Get this app to be more intentional in your prayer life.Find out more
7. Prone to Wander: Prayers of Confession and Celebration
I wasn’t a fan of liturgy. Then I discovered that I wasn’t a fan of liturgy for the sake of liturgy – cold, unthinking, say-it-by-memory liturgy.
This book (and similar resources such as the Common Prayer website) put words to the stirrings of our hearts.
“Confessing our sins might seem like a gloomy business—God already knows about them, so what’s the point of dwelling on failure? But confession is more celebratory than we think. It does not simply remind us of our guilt, but points us to our great Savior, who has atoned for us and lovingly pursues us despite our wandering.
These prayers open with a scriptural call of confession, confess specific sins, thank the Father for Jesus’ perfect life and death in our place, ask for the help of the Spirit in pursuing holiness, and close with an assurance of pardon.”
Read this book as an accompaniment to your daily devotions to foster a life of confession and celebration.Find out more
8. 70 Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards
At just 19 years of age, Jonathan Edwards penned these resolutions that would by God’s grace, shape the remainder of his life. These resolutions challenge me whenever I read them, and for this reason I started to include reading one of them during my devotional time. The resolutions include:
Resolved, Never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking.
Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments.
Read these resolutions to be inspired to live single-mindedly and wholeheartedly for God.Find out more
9. A Hunger for God
I haven’t read this yet, but it has been recommended by a friend, and I plan to read it in 2016. The blurb is compelling:
“There is an appetite for God. And it can be awakened. I invite you to turn from the dulling effects of food and the dangers of idolatry, and to say with some simple fast: “This much, O God, I want you.”
Read this (free) book/ebook if you want to cultivate a hunger for God.Find out more
10. Too Busy For Family Worship?
Do you think daily devotions would be more achievable if you had less on your plate? Spurgeon was a man with more responsibilities than most, and an output that would compete with the US President! But every evening at 6pm, he had family worship with his wife, sons and whoever else was home at the time. One of these visitors wrote:
“I remember, especially, his reading of the twenty-fourth of Luke: “Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.” How sweetly he talked upon having Jesus with us wherever we go. Not only to have Him draw near at special seasons, but to go with us whatever labour we undertake. . . . Then, how full of tender pleading, of serene confidence in God, of world-embracing sympathy were his prayers, . . . His public prayers were an inspiration and benediction, but his prayers with the family were to me more wonderful still. . .Mr. Spurgeon, when bowed before God in family prayer, appeared a grander man even than when holding thousands spellbound by his oratory.”
Read this article to be encouraged to lead your family in the Word.Find out more
11. Explore Bible App
This newly updated app provides access to daily Bible studies by trusted Bible teachers (Tim Keller, Tim Chester, Christopher Ash), with an integrated Bible, good questions and suggested prayer points.
Get this app to help you spend time in the Word each day.Find out more
12. Baron Fig: Confidant
I’ve been using this beautifully crafted journal since I started a new devotional habit in November. You don’t need to use this journal (or any journal for that matter). For me, it’s been both useful and enjoyable for journalling my time with God.Find out more
13. God Wrote A Book
Watching this short video last year prompted the first stirring in my heart to read the Bible more: