Do you have a daily devotional plan? (by Pr. Charles Henrickson)

Do you have a daily devotional plan? If you don’t, let me suggest what I am doing this year. It’s pretty simple. Basically, I’m reading one chapter of the New Testament every weekday (M-F), two psalms every Saturday, and one psalm every Sunday. Plus prayers. That’s about it. And now for the details.

There are 261 weekdays this year. There are 260 chapters in the New Testament. So one chapter per weekday, and it’s almost an exact fit. What about the extra day? You can either start tomorrow, skip a day, or you can do what I’ll do: Take the longest chapter in the NT, which is Luke 1 (80 verses), and divide it roughly in half–one day, 1:1-38; the next day, 1:39-80–and you come out at 261.

As for reading the Psalms on the weekends, there are 52 Saturdays and 52 Sundays this year. If you do two psalms on Saturdays and one psalm on Sundays, you end up with 156 psalms. But there are only 150 psalms. So you might do what I’m going to do: Take the longest psalm, Psalm 119 (176 verses), and divide it into seven sections, treating each section as a psalm: 119:1-24, 25-48, 49-72, 73-96, 97-120, 121-144, and 145-176. That way you come out at 156.

My devotional format goes like this:

Apostles’ Creed
Lord’s Prayer

Pretty simple. And short enough to be manageable.

Now, of course, there are other things you could add into your daily routine, perhaps at other times of the day: e.g., reading through the Old Testament, saying (by heart) a portion of the Small Catechism each day, reading through the Book of Concord (see the reading guide on p. xxxiv in the Readers’ Edition).

But I’ve found over the years that it’s best to not bite off more than you can chew. Build your way up to what you can manage. Otherwise, you might fall behind, get frustrated, give up, and get stuck on a guilt trip. Better to have a small plan that you actually do than to have too big of a plan that you give up on.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
–Colossians 3:17


Do you have a daily devotional plan? (by Pr. Charles Henrickson) — 6 Comments

  1. In your prayers, do you pray what’s on your heart? Or do you pray written prayers from a source? Or both?

  2. Douglas Pack: In your prayers, do you pray what’s on your heart? Or do you pray written prayers from a source? Or both?

    Both. I pray for people and concerns that are “on” my heart. And when I pray written prayers, I try to pray them “from” my heart. I do not set one type of prayer against the other. I think that’s a false dichotomy and unbiblical. (The Psalms, e.g., are written prayers.)

    So this morning I prayed in response to my Bible reading. I prayed for various people and concerns that were on my heart. And I prayed Luther’s Morning Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer (both coming from a written source) from my heart.

    It’s all good.

  3. My wife and I have gotten a bit away from the written prayers we used to do when we used the Book of Common Prayer and instead focus on memorized prayers. We still pray the Psalms by reading them, but generally, we follow the outline in the Small Catechism by reciting the creed, the Lord’s prayer, and Luther’s morning and evening prayers. We also pray the Nunc Dimittis in the evening. This serves as the closing half of our modified Lutheran “daily office,” which begins with the invocation, psalms (4 week rotation from “Reading the Psalms with Luther”) and reading two pericopes, with the latter always being from one of the Gospels. Between the Lord’s prayer and Luther’s prayer we have time for optional extemporaneous prayer to voice any concerns weighing heavily on us or to work through some of the prayer requests that are brought to our attention through our congregation. We’ve found this to be simple, flexible, and adaptable. All we need to do this anywhere is a New Testament with Psalms. Our next step is to memorize some of the evening hymns so we can begin teaching them to our newborn son.

  4. With regard to written/historic prayers versus idiosyncratic/heart prayers, I very much enjoyed a book called “Two Ways of Praying” by Paul Bradshaw, a Roman Catholic priest.

    His book essentially argues that a healthy prayer life incorporates both the historic prayers of the Church (Lord’s Prayer, Luther’s prayers from the Small Catechism, historic collects, etc.), and also private prayers.

    The former connect you with the worldwide church of all generations and help you to remember the big needs that all people have. The latter bring before our heavenly throne those things that weigh heavily on you as an individual and those persons who are close to you.

    In my personal prayer life, this is how I tend to structure my prayers–using both the prayers provided in LSB and related resources and also a number of particular needs written on a series of index cards that I regularly cycle through.

  5. I used to use Portals of Prayer and look up the listed Bible readings for each day.

    Then for a while I used the Daily Prayer for Individuals and Families from the Lutheran Service Book. CPH had published some laminated versions that we had handed out to the members at church one Sunday.

    Later, I switched to the Kindle edition of the Treasury of Daily Prayer with its assigned reading from the Book of Concord, and the downloadable Higher Things Reflections. Both are based on the One-Year Lectionary.

    When I was on our board of elders I would also use the Daily Intercessions (and add the prayer list from our local bulletin) found on Pr. Weedon’s old congregation website.

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