As the old year lands hard on the tarmac, one’s thoughts turn to the journey ahead. If you’re like me, you’re making resolutions.
A good list of New Year’s resolutions isn’t complete without a spiritual goal or two. Last year, I resolved to pray every day and—surprise—this little blog and Bell Tower Prayer subscriptions were born (subscribe to the blog below or click here to subscribe to the daily prayers).
Some folks, though, want to dig a little deeper and they choose a daily or weekly devotional. This post is for you.
If you’re Christian, you may have picked up the little devotional books available in the narthex at your place of worship or maybe even invested in a devotional from Guideposts. Those are fine, but I have three devotional books off the beaten track to recommend.
Angels: Devotions and Art to Encourage, Refresh, and Inspire by Anne Neilson
Some of my favorite prayers this past year came from Anne Neilson. I found her book at a gift shop in Galveston when we visited in February. I was drawn to the cover, an image of angel sculpted by Neilson in oil paint. Even in a two-dimensional book, her full-color paintings feel fully developed.
Throughout Angels, Neilson invites readers reflect on one of her paintings and individual words such as create and foundation. She offers a definition of the word, a Bible verse and a prayer with each of forty devotions.
Here’s a bit she wrote in her meditation on purpose:
As we wear the carpets of our lives threadbare with constant pacing, we may miss out on the miracle appointed for that day. Sometimes God has appointed us to be the ones calling others back. He is constantly arranging His people into positions to be used for His higher purpose.
Neilson’s devotions are personal and homey, reflecting on motherhood, family and creativity. Especially nice are her prayers, which don’t simply repeat the devotion’s message but expand on it. Here’s an especially meaningful one:
Dear God, thank You for exhaling Your divine breath so that I might have lungs full of oxygen. Thank You for choosing for me to have another day on this earth so that I can continue to walk in the purpose You created for me. Show me how to embrace this life fully today so I can be a walking testimony to the goodness You have woven throughout my life.
Reflecting on His presence: Outpouring Art with Intentional Devotions by Ann Younger
This is another full-color coffee-table art book that should not just be displayed but used. It’s organized by the seasons with fifty-two devotions, one for each week. Each devotion features a piece of Ann’s beautiful art, a Bible verse and prayer prompts.
I met Ann earlier this year, and her creative spirit is an inspiration. I loved her and her work so much I invested in one of her paintings for our church home. Here’s a quote she writes in reflecting about creativity:
He is the One who fills our hearts with the most beautiful words to speak and sing. What song, poem, painting, prayer, testimony is being written in your heart? What is holding you back from letting your voice be heard for eternal purposes?
Conversations at a Table for Two: Feeding a Hungry Soul by Tami VanHoy
I worked with Tami at one time in a long-past business venture, and when I saw she wrote a book, I invested in a copy right away. In the book’s description, Tami writes she pulled up a chair to a “table for two” where she engaged in conversations with God and learned to find nourishment for her hungry soul and purpose for her life. In the book’s lessons, Tami leads the reader to this “table for two” where life transformation takes place. She invites the reader into a place of intimacy with God, using “recipes” and insights from scripture to draw near. The recipe concept is especially nice if you know Tami was at one time quite well-known for her recipes and spice mixes.
Each chapter contains a “recipe” with a Bible verse, a meditation on that verse and lots of questions to encourage you to savor the message and digest it—to converse with God.
Here are a couple of questions to give you some flavor for the interactive element of this devotional:
- When stressed or overwhelmed, what is your “go-to” response?
- The next time you are triggered by this feeling, what kind of conversation could you have with God about it?
Have you found a devotional that speaks to your heart? Share in the comments. I’d love to hear. Here’s wishing you good luck in finding a devotional that blesses your spirit in the new year.