As a young teen, I was introduced to the habit of reading a daily devotional book. I still recall how vividly God spoke to me through those “two listeners” in God Calling. Through the years I’ve found that when placed alongside Bible reading and prayer, devotional literature is valuable to my Christian growth.
My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers is a devotional classic. On day one the author invites the reader to make an unreserved commitment: “I am determined to be absolutely and entirely for Him and for Him alone.” Page after page, Chambers answers the staggering question, “Can a sinner be turned into a saint?”
Thumbing through the pages of Morning by Morning by C. H. Spurgeon, I remember personal events. The year I read this book we cared for my husband’s mother who was dying with cancer; our first grandchild was born; and my father died. Beyond these personal ties, I value this book because Spurgeon exalts Christ, intertwines Scripture and hymnody, and highlights creation.
Twice I have read Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman. Because she compiled this volume during the six years she nursed her sick husband, the lessons speak to the hurting, the persecuted, the doubting. Her theme is assurance, confidence in God who works in all things for the believer’s good.
Although I’ve read other books by E. Stanley Jones, I prize The Way to Power and Poise. His central theme is the ministry of the Holy Spirit, a relationship that produces a Spirit-controlled life.
Hannah Whitall Smith is best known for her book The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life. In God is Enough, editors Melvin and Hallie Dieter have compiled daily readings from nine of Smith’s books. Through the heartache and sorrow in her life, she affirms God’s sufficiency.
In my view, you cannot find a better resource on prayer than The Meaning of Prayer by Harry Emerson Fosdick. The chapter on “Prayer as Dominant Desire” made me examine my motives: Did I truly want what I prayed for? Or more exacting: Did I pray for what I wanted?
A few years ago I discovered Disciplines for the Inner Life by Bob and Michael Benson, father and son. The format includes prayers, Scripture, hymns, and excerpts from a broad base of Christian writers. In each week’s topic, I’ve found new truth to pierce my self-righteousness. Keeping a spiritual journal helped root the lessons.
Each New Day by Corrie ten Boom has tied together truths of experience and Scripture. One year I selected Diamonds in the Dust by Joni Eareckson Tada. Through her struggles to accept her disability she has found in Scripture many “diamonds” which have made her “rich in faith and wealthy in hope.”
I’ve introduced you to my favorites. This year I’ll complete The Bard and the Bible by Bob Hostetler. I’ve enjoyed his writing style, seasoned with humor, as he connected Shakespeare’s works with the KJV Bible. I’ve already purchased what I’ll use for 2020: another book compiled by Hostetler, Take Time to Be Holy, a collection of writings from Samuel Logan Brengle, renowned commissioner of The Salvation Army. Now choose for yourself a devotional guide to read on a daily basis by matching the book to your personal, present-day need. God will speak to you through His saints.