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I’ve always had a very hard time finding daily devotional guides that “work” for me. Too many devotionals seem rather light and superficial. Don’t get me wrong, I realize a devotional is supposed to be a…devotional! It is not suppose to be a Bible study or an academic level endeavor. But it is hard to consistently read a devotional when you find it a lame waste of time.

I want to feel challenged or convicted, and not simply like I got a feel-good pep talk loosely based on a Scripture verse. Nor do I want the focus of the devotional to be “a story.”  I sometimes find devotionals to be nothing more than a short personal story loosely based on a Scripture verse. The story is the focus. There is certainly a place for stories, but with a story as the main focus in an already short devotional…I find it lacks power because the Scripture was not more paramount. I strongly believe that the Word and Spirit are intimately connected and when the Word gets the proper attention, the Spirit can be set free to work.

So, with all these complaints about devotionals, I wanted to share some devotionals that have worked for me! Perhaps the recommendations will prove helpful to someone out there. If you’ve used and appreciated a devotional of substance, please do share it with me in a comment.

Day by Day Through the New Testament, multiple authors, published by A Precious Seed Publication in the U.K.

I used this guide in 2011 and greatly appreciated it. It takes you through the New Testament in a year. Therefore you are combining a Bible reading plan with a devotional (which can sometimes be separate endeavors). I was often challenged by the thoughts shared, and found myself writing notes in my Bible so I’d not forget some of the lesson learned. It seems hard to purchase in the United States, but it can be purchased from Moments with the Book  here in the USA. There are also editions of this devotional for the Old Testament and Psalms. I have not used those, but if they are anything like the New Testament edition, I highly recommend them!

Knowing God’s Purpose for your Life by JI Packer. This is a more typical devotional. Each day is based on a single verse of Scripture, but then there is an excerpt from one of JI Packer’s many published works. JI Packer is always challenging and definitely not a light weight. My husband and I were reading through this together, and enjoyed it. Hmm…this book also seems not readily available, but there are copies available on amazon.

 My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. I suppose this devotional may need no introduction. It is a classic which has sold millions of copies since being published in the 1920’s. Looks like it is available to read on-line each day at this link. Despite this devotional being an enduring classic that I was always hearing about, I never got my own copy until about 5 years ago. I used it a couple years in a row. I know I’ll use it again at some point. I prefer real books, and I have a couple extra copies of it (but not the edition pictured). If you’d like one, let me know and I’ll gladly send it to you.

I really liked Day by Day Grace by Bob Hoekstra, which is only available online at Blue Letter Bible.  However, reading a devotional online just did not work for me and I only used this for a few short weeks. But I greatly appreciated the weeks I did use it! In order to use this, I would need to print out all the devotionals and put them in a notebook.

Finally, a devotional that I hesitantly recommend. Devotional Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster & James Bryan Smith (Ronovare). This book contains 52 readings (one a week) from various classic devotional writers from throughout Christian history…so this includes Protestants, Roman Catholics, and those from various Christian traditions. I would unhesitatingly recommend this to established believers, who can easily separate the wheat from the chaff. Even if one disagrees with certain aspects of a particular tradition, we can still learn from it. I greatly appreciated this devotional book. It familiarized and re-familiarized me with many figures from Christian history. Each reading from the particular author also features an accompanying biblical passage,  discussion questions, exercises, and resources for more information.