Let’s be honest. Taking time every single day to read and develop spiritually isn’t exactly an easy commitment to keep—especially in your 20s.
With the busyness of jobs, family, church involvement, and possibly even a social life, taking time every day to read and pray can feel like a chore. That’s what makes well-written devotionals so great.
With short, daily entries that tackle a single principle at a time, they can help make reading the Bible and theology a natural part of your schedule—even if it’s already full.
Here’s a look at six of devotionals everything twentysomething should read. From classic works of by iconic thinkers to contemporary books written for modern audiences, they each offer a daily dose of spiritual wisdom, condensed to a single page.
My Utmost for His Highest – Oswald Chambers
Though dozens of books have been compiled from his notes and personal writings, My Utmost for His Highest remains Oswald Chambers’ most popular book, and one of Christianity’s most beloved devotionals. Originally written for students and young followers of Christ, the book offers readers 365 short yet profound lessons on the fundamentals of Christian life, the Bible, prayer and serving others.
From the book:
The most important aspect of Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the surrounding influence and qualities produced by that relationship. That is all God asks us to give our attention to, and it is the one thing that is continually under attack.
If we are conscious of our influence, it ceases to have the genuine loveliness which is characteristic of the touch of Jesus. We always know when Jesus is at work because He produces in the commonplace something that is inspiring.
Morning and Evening – Charles Spurgeon
One of Christianity’s great teachers, Spurgeon was known for writing deep theological messages in a style that’s still approachable a century later. Morning and Evening remains one of his most popular, dedicating each day’s writing to digging deep in to different passages of Scriptures. It’s not exactly light reading, but each entry’s manageable length make it an accessible way to get a daily Bible lesson.
From the book:
Many Christians remain stunted and dwarfed in spiritual things, so as to present the same appearance year after year. No upspringing of advanced and refined feeling is manifest in them. They exist but do not “grow up into Him in all things.” But should we rest content with being in the “green blade,” when we might advance to “the ear,” and eventually ripen into the “full corn in the ear?” Should we be satisfied to believe in Christ, and to say, “I am safe,” without wishing to know in our own experience more of the fulness which is to be found in Him. It should not be so; we should, as good traders in heaven’s market, covet to be enriched in the knowledge of Jesus.
The Imitation of Christ – Thomas à Kempis
Still revered for its unique approach to spiritual development—focusing on an individual’s “interior” life and personal communion with God—Imitation of Christ has been a staple of Christian literature for more than five centuries. Though it’s not really a breezy daily read, Thomas à Kempis’ intellectual, often poetic prose, is an examination of a kind of monastic devotion to simplicity, humility and seeking to truly live like Christ. In the era of non-stop noise and ever-present social media, it’s a compelling daily look at what it means to be still before God.
From the book:
Jesus has now many lovers of the heavenly Kingdom but few bearers of His cross.
This is the greatest wisdom—to seek the Kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. It is vanity, therefore, to seek and trust in riches that perish. It is vanity also to court honor and to be puffed up with pride. It is vanity to follow the lusts of the body and to desire things for which severe punishment later must come. It is vanity to wish for long life and to care little about a well-spent life. It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and not to make provision for things to come. It is vanity to love what passes quickly and not to look ahead where eternal joy abides.
The President’s Devotional – Joshua DuBois
Imagine being a twentysomething who has found himself tasked with creating a daily devotional reading for the most powerful person in the world. That’s actually what happened after Joshua DuBois emailed (then Senator) Barack Obama with spiritual encouragement. Along with serving as the religious outreach director (and later leading the White House’s community and faith-based partnerships) DuBois wrote daily devotions that were personally delivered to the President. He compiled those writings into his book, which has drawn praise from fellow faith leaders including Russell Moore, Andy Stanley, Rich Wilkerson, Rick Warren and others.
From the book:
So often we think that if God does one more miracle—answers one more request—then, we’ll trust him and obey. “Just prove yourself one more time, Lord,” we say. “Show me evidence of your power on this occasion, and I’ll never forget it.” But it doesn’t work that way. Jesus told a story of a man burning in hell, who begged Father Abraham to allow him to return to earth and warn his brothers so that they would avoid the same fate. Abraham declined the man’s request because Abraham knew that even if these brothers saw their own resurrected sibling, they still would not change their ways.We must avoid making our obedience situational, dependent on some miraculous action of God. Either we belong to him and follow his instructions, or we don’t. Let’s not make God prove his worth.
Jesus Calling – Sarah Young
Sarah Young writes things she has felt Jesus say to her—based in Scripture and prayer. The messages are both comforting and challenging. In a world of ever-increasing busyness and distraction, we all need a reminder that Jesus is calling us to rest in Him.
From the book:
I am your living God, far more abundantly alive than the most vivacious person you know. The human body is wonderfully crafted, but gravity and the inevitable effects of aging weigh it down. Even the most superb athlete cannot maintain his fitness over many decades. Lasting abundant life can be found in Me alone.
Do not be anxious about the weakness of your body. Instead, view it as the prelude to My infusing energy into your being. As you identify more and more fully with Me, My Life becomes increasingly intertwined with yours. Though the process of aging continues, inwardly you grow stronger with the passing years. Those who live close to Me develop an inner aliveness that makes them seem youthful in spite of their years. Let My Life shine through you, as you walk in the Light with Me.
Savor – Shauna Niequist
Less of a traditional devotional and more a collection of short essays, Savor (from frequent RELEVANT Podcast contributor Shauna Niequiest) is a good entry point to daily readings. Each of the readings includes a Bible verse, a short story or reflection and an application question. The book also includes recipes meant to be shared in community. It’s easy to read and relatable, touching on everything from learning contentment to navigating friendships to practicing forgiveness.
From the book:
How do I forgive someone who doesn’t think she did anything wrong? Or who doesn’t care? Why would I forgive someone who doesn’t even think she needs to be forgiven? Because I want my neck and my back muscles to stop hurting. Because I want to sleep, instead of having endless imaginary conversations. Because I want my mind back. Because I want my life back. So I let her off the hook. I let her off once, to start, and felt pretty good about myself, until someone brought up her name at lunch, and then I got mad all over again, which threw me for a loop. I forgave her. Why am I still so mad at her? I felt like I bought expensive wrinkle cream and woke up more wrinkly than ever. I wanted my money back. Forgiveness is both a decision and a process. It’s hard enough to choose to forgive in the first place, and then we have to do it again. And again. And again. And again.
Photo credit: Kayla Craig.