There are seasons of life when an hour of Bible study all at one time is easy to schedule every day, but there are other times when even ten minutes at once is difficult. It's better to spend five minutes than none at all, and often I find I can fit several five minute readings into a busy day. Or perhaps I have a nice long study in the afternoon, but I want to begin the day with a quick upward glance: a focus on the Lord as my strength for the day. Of course there are also the days when I have lots of spare time, but, well, very little brain. Needier-than-usual children or a backache or a migraine can really be distracting. These are the times that short devotional books are useful.
I like to keep a few devotional books in various places around the house so there's one handy whenever I have a few moments. I can read while I wait for my tea kettle to boil, when I grab an afternoon snack or just before I fall asleep.
Today I'm sharing some of my favorite short devotional books. Please leave a comment about your favorite and how you fit it into your busy schedule or tell me about a time in your life when you found short studies especially helpful.
First, of course, is the Bible. In busy seasons of life it is too easy to read other people's thoughts on the Bible and neglect the most precious book of all. Psalms is easy to dive into when you only have five minutes. Try Philippians too: a joyful book full of verses you can meditate on a few at a time.
Ruth Myers wrote a wonderful series of books: 31 Days of Prayer, 31 Days of Praise, 31 Days of Power and The Satisfied Heart. These Scripture-based prayers will encourage readers to pray and praise and respond to God's word. The daily segments are only two pages long.
I'm currently enjoying Jennifer Rothschild's Fresh Grounded Faith. The author's goal was to write daily devotions that you can easily read in the time it takes to drink your morning coffee. She shares meditations on Scripture and stories from her own life in a thought-provoking way that is not too deep for those early in the morning still-haven't-finished-your-caffeinated-beverage times.
Ken Hemphill wrote several short books with titles like God Is, God Will, We Are, and We Can. Daily segments are two pages long and begin with a scripture about who God is or what God says about us. Ken Hemphill explains the scripture with everyday illustrations and personal examples.
Joni Eareckson Tada's book More Precious than Silver has 366 daily readings. Joni's testimony of faith and endurance is encouraging; her thoughts are especially relevant to anyone experiencing pain or difficulty. Joni wrote at least two other devotionals in this format: Diamonds in the Dust and Pearls of Great Price.
Daily Light on the Daily Path has been a popular devotional book since it was published in the 19th century. Author Samuel Bagster chose two topics for each day (a morning reading and an evening reading) and wove together scriptures that speak on those topics. There are many versions of this available: paperback, leather-bound, abridged, KJV and NKJV. Mine is a leather-like substance in hunter green.
Another classic devotional is Amy Carmichael's Edges of His Ways. This missionary's prayers and meditations are encouraging and challenging.
The Divine Hours by Phillis Tickle is a weekly pattern of short scripture readings and classic prayers. It is set up for believers who want to pray several times a day and desire a little guidance to begin praying or to stay focused during their prayer times. I really appreciated this book when I was in a very exhausted season of life, wanting to converse with God but not coming up with many of my own words. The Divine Hours would prompt my own prayers. It's a small book, very handy for an early morning in the park or a long vacation. Not every prayer in this book will fit every denomination's theology, but I found I rephrased the prayers in my own words anyway.
Ann Spangler's two books on prayer will take a little longer than five minutes a day, but you can certainly divide up the reading into smaller portions if you need to. The titles are Praying the Names of God and Praying the Names of Jesus. She also co-wrote a one-year devotional with Jean Swyserda: Women of the Bible.
If you like a little artwork with your quiet time, try Lillias Trotter's Blossom in the Desert. This missionary woman gave up a promising art career to be a missionary in North Africa from the late 1800s until 1928. This book blends exerpts from her writings with sketches from her diaries. Every page is beautiful. Open this book up on a cookbook stand and enjoy it.
Another book that's great on a cookbook stand is Catherine Martin's Drawing Strength from the Names of God. Georgeous landscape photos accompany Catherine's prayers and explanations of the names of God. I like to read a page or sometimes just a paragraph while I wait for my teakettle to boil in the morning.
Catherine Martin also wrote a devotional book: Quiet Time Moments for Women. Themes include love, grace, prayer, quiet, and ministry. I like to read this in the evening before bed.
What are your favorite five minute Devotional books?