In a previous blog article, I addressed the importance of reading books that present doctrinal content. In this article, I will discuss the need for the other important component: devotional reading.
The Bible says, “watch over your heart with all diligence” (Proverbs 4:23). One way we can do this is to stir the heart by reading things that are devotional in nature.
With doctrinal reading, our goals are to (1) to have a coherent Christian world view, and (2) to have Biblical answers for the non-Christian world around us.
With devotional reading, our goals are: (1) to learn ways in which we can apply Scripture, (2) to increase our love for God, and (3) to become more zealous for good works.
It is important to make sure that the devotional material is built upon an accurate theology and interpretation of Scripture. If we don’t understand the proper meaning of Scripture, we can’t be sure that we have a proper understanding of how to apply it. Devotion and application of Scripture need to follow sound methods of Biblical interpretation.
What is needed is doctrinal truth coupled with a passion for God and for souls.
One good source of devotional material is sermons. This can be from good contemporary preachers, such as John MacArthur, or from eminent preachers from the past such as Charles Spurgeon, or Jonathan Edwards. Spurgeon’s sermons have had a great impact on my life and on the lives of many others around the world for over a century.
Puritan books can be another source of devotional fuel.
Recommended devotional books include:
Books on the Christian Life:
- Books by Jerry Bridges: The Pursuit of Holiness, The Practice of Godliness, etc.
- Books by John Piper: Don’t Waste Your Life, Desiring God, etc.
- Profiting from the Word by A. W. Pink (one of my favorites)
- Living Zealously (with study questions) by Joel Beeke and James La Belle. Excellent, from a Reformed perspective.
- The Journals of Jim Elliot by Elisabeth Elliot. A classic—very convicting.
- Spurgeon’s Prayers - a treasure trove of beautiful prayers that are very instructive in both their style and content
- The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions by Arthur Bennett
• The Handbook of Bible Application by Neil Wilson. This book lends itself well to quick, practical morning devotions that have application for our daily lives. Highly recommended, teens to adult.
As with theology books, devotional books can serve as a springboard for prayer. The calls for renewed zeal, greater service, and a passion for God give us much to pray about.
By reading books with devotional emphases we encourage our hearts in the Christian life and increase our passion for God and His kingdom. We want to make sure that we love God with all our heart as well as with our all our mind.