A number of years ago I decided to spend Christmas in Egypt. Christmas eve, a small party
of us decided to walk about Mount Sinai at night to prepare to see the dawn on Christmas day.
For some in the group it was just a chance to walk up a famous mountain and see the sun.
To the Christians among us it held a special Christian-based resonance. To those who
worshipped nature it was an opportunity to honour and respect the elements. And for some
it was a deeply spiritual experience. Same mountain, same sun, but meant so many different
things to different people.
To each their own devotion.
To me, I had no idea what to expect other than go with the spirit of mystery. As we walked
along the bottom of the mountain on a flat pathway, it was so dark it was difficult to see.
Above us hung a canopy of stars. On either side there were snorts and grunts of camels;
we could hear them but not see them.
As we continued, I developed pains in my chest and the group leader, a young Egyptian man,
was becoming a bit disconcerted with me as I kept falling behind. In the end, he shouted
something I did not understand but next thing I knew a camel was nudging me and its
cameleer whispered in my ear, “Old men die on this mountain.”
I took that as one of life’s signs; I knew I couldn’t turn back so I willingly accepted his offer to ride me to a point on the mountain where the camel could go no more. There, there was a small hut, made of large stones, from which a man dispensed tea to weary climbers. He was about to close for the night but said I could share his small abode. I fell fast and fatly asleep.
About 5 in the morning, he opened his windows, there was no glass in them, to the sign coming up over the distant hills. He started to do simple ablutions and invited me to do the same. And then he went to the door to greet the sunrise and worship Allah. Again, he invited me to do the same indicating I should honour whatever I wanted to honour. For me it was Jesus, God, angels and archangels, and all in the Spirit world. It was absent friends, wishing them well, wherever they were. There was something deeply humbling, reverential, devout, gracious, and a feeling of “Oneness” about our shared time together. He conveyed that this was a daily practice which he took most seriously … his daily devotions, offering himself in service, for another day’s work serving his Allah.
I headed down the mountain – the one and only person on the path down mount Sinai. Whilst my friends had continued on up the mountain the previous night, I had shared a wonderful journey up the mountain conversing not just with the camel, but in German with the guide, as he made sure the camel did not slip over the mountain. We shared stories and talked of God. I had truly savoured my time with the man in the hut, an experience that was just meant to be.
And now, walking down the mountain on my own, I felt as if I was transitioning into a new period on my spiritual journey. My father, in spirit, talked to me and gave guidance for the next part of that journey. His message was clear. I had to go to India and on returning I would know what next. And that was to relocate to Spain.
This is a long story, perhaps, and it is to illustrate the power of devotion.
The Power of Daily Devotions
The daily ritual of taking time to go through a routine, devoting one’s life in service sets us up for the day and in turn we benefit.
It may take time to get into the habit of doing daily devotions and at first, the payoffs may not seem obvious, but once they become a part of your daily life, you will begin to sense and experience their amazing benefits such as:-
You experience amazing peace, a peace which grows into the day. With peace comes healing.
You grow spiritually...that will be different strokes for different folks; for some it may be a deeper communion with the god of their understanding, a deeper dive into their calling
You become inspired and with inspiration you may seek out extracts from eg the Bible, the Koran, A Course in Miracles, great spiritual texts, inspirational poems and as you reflect on them there is a sense of heightening your vibrations in the direction of true Love, become more forgiving and compassionate along the way
You will be moved to pray spontaneously and over time begin to experience the cumulative effect causing you to grow and mature.
You get to know the God of your understanding, not in an intellectual “knowing about God” kind of a way, but hearing the voice of God
You can feel closer to your loved ones in Spirit
You gain a deeper understanding of your chosen texts – The Bible, the Koran, The Torah, the Tao de Ching, the Buddhist Sutras, the Upanishads etc and you begin to live them
You naturally, almost without effort, begin to apply the teachings you are learning
Your peace deepens – instead of the almost daily feeling of hopeless, overwhelm, anxiety, or loneliness, you begin to understand, from experience Grace and Peace
As life’s irritations lessen, and you find different ways to respond to stress, so your body also responds, and it begins to heal.
Definition of Devotion (from Merriam Webster dictionary )
b : an act of prayer or private worship —usually used in plural
· during his morning devotions
c : a religious exercise or practice other than the regular corporate (see corporate 2) worship
of a congregation
2 a : the act of dedicating something to a cause, enterprise, or activity : the act of devoting
· the devotion of a great deal of time and energy
b : the fact or state of being ardently dedicated and loyal
· her devotion to the cause
· filial devotion"
How to Do Devotions - A 10 Step Process
Decide on a Time… beginning of the day, evening, before bed - it's what works best for you
Decide on a Place… out of bed, a comfortable chair with a good reading light, devotional reading material, pen and paper nearby
Decide on a Time Frame … begin with about 15 minutes and let your time frame naturally evolve thereafter
Create an agenda (based on what follows)
Choose from a reading from a sacred text or a study programme (there are countless numbers on line)
Begin by connecting to your Source then open with a prayer
Express praise or some other form of worship to your Beloved
Journal your thoughts and prayers and experiences – let any journaling be guided
Stay the course – commit to your daily plan – if you come unstuck pray to be given the wherewithal to get back on track
Be flexible – if journaling doesn’t come easy, do the best you can
In the Christian monastic tradition, Lectio Divina is a slow, contemplative praying of the Scriptures. Time set aside for lectio divina enables us to discover in our daily life an underlying spiritual rhythm, within which we discover an increasing ability to offer more of ourselves and our relationships to God, and to accept the embrace that God is constantly extending to us in the person of his son, Jesus Christ.