Many of my Christian friends bemoan the fact that they do not pray faithfully every day. I have known them long enough to know that they pray, because we have prayed together, or they have told me about praying in a crisis. Still, they want to have a daily time apart, and it doesn’t happen.Here’s a fact: daily time for devotions will never happen. If you commit to do it and then do it, you will have that daily time. But it will never just happen. You will never get up and discover that you have fifteen extra minutes with nothing to do before you need to leave for work. You will always find that you are in the car on the way to work aware that you ran out of time to do many things that needed to be done, and you will never see the day when you just accidentally have time for prayer and Bible study.
There is never a good time to start a diet. There is never a right time to start exercising. If you plan to get together with friends once a month, you will never simply look up one night and discover that they have all accidentally joined you at a fine restaurant. Anything you want to accomplish requires commitment and planning, or it will not happen.
I discovered the Mount Carmel Daily Texts online in the late nineties. I really don’t remember exactly when. I loved that site from the beginning. I read the two verses and thought about them and prayed. It was very nice, but I didn’t do it faithfully. In those days my computer was a desktop unit on a large wooden workstation. I had to go the kitchen in order to use it. If I were rushing around in the morning, I usually forgot even to turn the computer on, so I often did not read my verses. The website today still displays the verses each day, but it has expanded its scope and changed its style over the years. The texts are only one ministry of the Mount Carmel Retreat Center.
When I began traveling every week for work in 2000, I started buying the annual Daily Texts devotional book. I packed that little book, a small Bible and a notebook in my bag every week. Even though my workdays were 12 hours or longer, I could still find time each morning, just 15 minutes or so, to read the day’s verses and then pray.
The ministry of the daily texts goes back to a Moravian settlement in the 18th century. Their practice of meditating on a single “watchword” verse from the Old Testament each day was later expanded by the addition of a verse from the New Testament. The texts were selected annually by a committee. The selected texts were then printed for distribution to congregations and their member. Today, the daily texts are used around the world, translated into 50 languages, and available in a wide variety of formats. Everyone who uses the daily texts reads the same verses on the same day.
I buy Daily Texts through the Mount Carmel website . The emphasis is the simple presentation of two texts and a prayer for each day. Busy, overstressed Christians can find a brief comforting retreat from the chaos by limiting their focus to the basics. However, time permitting, there are other features to enrich the private worship experience.
The list of daily texts is changed annually, and each year’s devotional book is printed with weekly calendars. Each week’s readings are headed up by a list of the lectionary readings and a watchword text chosen from those selections. A hymn thematically related to the gospel reading is also printed for personal meditation and inspiration.
The daily entries include the two key texts, printed in full. You don’t need to search for them in your Bible. You can always choose to read them from your own Bible, and you may even want to read the context, but if your time is limited, you can read them as printed in the book. After the text, there is a printed prayer, focusing on the theme of the verses. Nothing prevents you from praying your own prayer, but when time is short, or when you feel too depleted or frantic to choose your own words, the printed prayer is a wonderful guide for your thoughts.
Monday through Saturday, after the prayer are suggested readings for two Bible reading plans. Notice that there is no reading on Sunday. You get to take a Sabbath from your Bible reading plan on that day. The lectionary readings for the day can replace the plan readings on Sunday if you wish. One plan takes you through the Bible in a year. The other takes you through the Bible in two years. I have used the two-year plan and found it more comfortable than the single year. It is completely optional. Mount Carmel also posts a blog with a three-year Bible reading plan. You have choices.
The slim little book of Daily Texts somehow crams in a wealth of additional material for your personal growth and study. You can learn three different prayer methods which may enrich your prayer time. You can learn how to share the daily texts in family prayer time. There is an article about Martin Luther’s prayer life, a guide for daily intercession, Luther’s Small Catechism, and a guide for personal confession and forgiveness.
The Mount Carmel Daily Texts is a rich resource for daily devotions in just under 200 pages. The pages are about the size of a 4X6 index card. You can use as much or as little of the options as you choose, but nowhere are you likely to find a resource better suited to your individual needs. What’s more, it is quite inexpensive. Currently, you can buy a single copy for less than ten dollars, and there are a variety of discounts for purchases of two or more. I don’t get any commission for referring you to Mount Carmel. This recommendation is simply my own experience.
Making time for prayer is like making time for exercise, or for washing dishes, or for anything else you consider important. Using the Daily Texts, however, makes it about as easy as it can be. You can use this simple, inexpensive resource to help you keep the commitment you want to make to a daily prayer time. There are many good devotional books available. I took the time to share this one because it has meant a lot to me.
What devotional resources do you find most helpful?
- Note to Self: Pray for Bible Translators (wycliffeusa.wordpress.com)