How’s your devotional life? That is a question few of us want to hear (or answer). We not only struggle to have a consistent devotional life ourselves, but particularly when it comes to devotional time with our spouses.
To be sure, part of the problem is time. We all live busy lives and quiet moments are hard to come by. But, a bigger challenge for many of us is what to do during this devotional time, particularly with our spouses. Do we just read a passage of Scripture? There is certainly nothing wrong with that. But, often we find ourselves lacking the next step beyond hearing the word, and that is applying the word.
What we really need is someone to speak the truth of Scripture to us in a way that is both doctrinally/theologically faithful and, at the same time, devotional and exhortational. In my opinion, there are few who have done that better in the history of the church than the puritans.
Despite the negative press the puritans have received over the years (think of discussions of The Scarlet Letter in your high school class), they were wonderful examples of loving God with both the mind and the heart. Few can stir the soul like John Owen, Thomas Brooks, Thomas Watson, Richard Baxter, Richard Sibbes, William Gurnall, and John Flavel.
But, how does one get a dose of the puritans for a daily devotion? Are we to just pick up the collected works of John Owen and start to read? (Good luck with that). Chances are we would not last long with such an approach (nor would our spouse).
Thus, let me recommend a wonderful devotional book that provides precisely what is needed, namely encouragements/exhortations from a variety of puritan writers in bite-sized chunks. The book Voices from the Past, edited by Richard Rushing (Banner of Truth, 2009), is a fantastic compilation of puritan writings, sermons, and devotional thoughts, suited perfectly for a brief morning devotional.
Just 10-15 minutes a day, either alone or with your spouse, will give you a chance to hear the word of God, and, more than that, hear it applied to your heart in a moving and encouraging manner. This naturally leads to reflection, discussion, and prayer over the content of each day’s devotional.
So, no more excuses regarding your daily devotional time. Encourage your own heart, and that of your spouse, through the wonderful ministry of the puritans.