Once every few months I decide it’s time to get a new devotional book. While I tend to just read my Bible (and lately some amazing biographies from the library) occasionally I want something I can underline and dog ear for later reference. Many people smarter than me have some amazing things to say in books!
Generally at that point I wander into my local Christian Bookstore and become completely overwhelmed. Before I even look at a cover I can see that there are devotionals geared toward professionals, couples, singles, men, women, teens, pastors, senior adults, fathers, mothers and more.
It can get really overwhelming. The good news is there are lots of types of books available. Depending on what you are looking for your search can be quickly shortened by looking at some simple criteria:
1. Make sure it uses the Bible. This one is pretty easy. You can generally tell from a cursory flip through the book if the Bible is referenced. Some devotionals are designed to study a specific book and some focus on a topic by looking at many different parts of scripture. If you want to study the book to learn more about the Bible, make sure the author uses it as his/her primary source!
2. Consider the topic. Topical studies come in many shapes and formats depending on what the reader wants. Maybe there is a specific subject you have wanted to know more about (this is one of my favorites) or maybe you want something you can study together with someone. Maybe you just want a better overview of the Bible itself. Whatever you are searching for, make sure the book is something you are interested in!
3. Consider the level of maturity. Different writers communicate on different levels. And readers want to read at different levels. If you have been studying the Bible for decades you need to get beyond the basics of learning Bible stories and really get into the meat and potatoes of things. Your age can affect things as well- a senior reading a devotional designed for teens isn’t exactly ideal! Talk to friends who are in the same place you are and see what they are reading or ask your small group leader.
4. Consider a Devotional/Journal Combination. I stink at journaling. I REALLY want to be good at it but it’s always a struggle to get things down on paper. So I often try to buy books that force me to write. Many devotional books come in extended editions that include a journal segment. Keep an eye out for those- it can be fun later to go back and see how you have changed!
5. How Much Time Will It Take. I would love to say that this isn’t something I take into consideration when I look at a devotional but it’s just not true. I adore Beth Moore but I know when I pick up one of her workbooks I am looking at 45 minutes of homework every day (her books aren’t the same). And if you are just starting out spending daily time reading that is going to seem like a huge task. So look through the book and see what the commitment will be. If it’s just five minutes a day that’s a great start. (This is my favorite book for that.)
All of these steps are important when determining How To Choose The Right Devotional Book. And we all know a good book can change your life!