Some practical advice on devotions, post 2: "Getting Oriented"

When I sit down to have devotions, I usually go through a brief stage of getting oriented and focused on what I am doing. We come to devotions from all sorts of places in our lives. We may be feeling guilty, excited, distracted, or a host of other things. The orientation step helps us begin to settle in with God. It is a way to switch from daily activities to being fully present with God. This step need not take a long time, but it is important.


Orientation has two basic parts for me:

     1. An introductory verse

     2. A prayer of intention



1. Opening verse

The Book of Common Prayer has a whole assortment of opening verses. Here is one that is in the BCP:

“For this is what the high and lofty One says—
he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
‘I live in a high and holy place,
but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
and to revive the heart of the contrite’” (Isa 57:15).

Here is one that is not in the BCP, but I like it.

“O you who hear prayer,
to you all men will come” (Ps 65:2).

You can use any verse for an opening verse. There is no right or wrong. You may want to use the same verse for a couple of weeks to allow it to settle in, or you may want to jump around to different verses. Do what seems best at the time.

2. Prayer of intention

In a prayer of intention, you state what you are there to do. I have been using the following prayer of intention for a few years. It is adapted from the BCP. It was from this prayer that I gained my basic understanding of the structure of devotions. Check it out:

"Dear Father, I come into your presence to set forth your praise, to hear your holy Word, and to ask for myself and on behalf of others those things that are necessary for our life and our salvation."

In devotions, we are there to:

    1. Praise God
    2. Hear God’s Word
    3. Pray (ask God to do what is necessary to provide life and salvation for me and others)

Before we launch into praising God, we confess our sins. That is the subject of the next post.

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