Private devotions aren't magic. We know that (for the most part). But still, we can be tempted to think that if we just figure out the secret formula -- the right mixture of Bible meditation and prayer -- we will experience euphoric moments of rapturous communion with the Lord. And if that doesn't happen, our formula must be wrong.
The danger of this misconception is that it can produce chronic disappointment and discouragement. Cynicism sets in and we give up or whip through them to alleviate guilt because devotions don’t seem to work for us.
Our longing for intimate communion with God is God-given. It's a good thing to desire, ask for, and pursue. The Spirit does give us wonderful occasional tastes. And this longing will be satisfied to overflowing some day (Psalm 16:11).
But God has other purposes for us in the discipline of daily Bible meditation and prayer. Here are a few:
1. Soul Exercise (1 Corinthians 9:24, Romans 15:4): We exercise our bodies to increase strength, endurance, promote general health, and keep unnecessary weight off. Devotions are like exercise for our souls. They force our attention off of self-indulgent distractions and pursuits and on to God's purposes and promises. If we neglect this exercise our souls will go to pot.
[Read the rest of the article at Desiring God.]