One of the realities of living is that we age. I am noticing as I get older that I am changing: My likes, dislikes, and needs. Sometimes this is unsettling and results in denial. One major change is that when I am in my car, I tend to listen to the “oldies” station more than the “top 40” station. Even my tastes in cereal is different. I would rather have the corn flakes and Grapenuts than Cap’n Crunch. Really. For a while I was in denial about these sorts of changes but have decided to embrace them as the “new old me.”
Where this makes a difference in our spiritual lives is the notion that spiritually we have different needs in our devotional life at different times in our lives.
Youth—Youth should work at memorization while their mind is still young. The Scriptures learned in adolescence will stay with a man or woman throughout his or her life. This will provide a powerful base of strength in later years. Major Bible reading in the youth years should be the Gospels.
Young/Single—The young single woman or man might be starting a career or college. Either way, learning will be a part of their adjustment to the great big world. To accompany this, I recommend the young and single spend their devotions in systematic reading of the Bible straight through.
Young/Married No Kids—Couples should definitely study and pray together. I recommend that married people study the letters of Paul and spend time deciding what kind of Christian couple they will be. 3 days a week study and pray together, 3 days a week study alone. On Sunday worship!
Young/Married w/Kids—These are the toughest years to carve out devotions. The temptation is to forget the kids and study when they are asleep. You can do that a little, but do not neglect the children, even preschoolers. Do not make it complicated, though. No extra books are needed. Just tell Jesus stories, read a verse or two, and make your prayers together before bedtime. Start teaching them the Lord’s Prayer and 23rd Psalm.
Mid-life—This is a wide ranging time span ranging form older teens to empty nest. This is when folks should start focusing in upon theology. Use your devotional time to learn and study deeper issues: The Trinity, salvation, atonement, history etc… These studies will help you, because at this point in your life you are likely one of the respected leaders of your community of faith.
Senior Adult—If you’ve been with Jesus for a while, by now the temptation is to stop reading and studying and just wait for heaven. Don’t! Now is the time when your devotions can take an unexpected turn. Supplement your Bible reading with books about the church. The church will be part of your spiritual legacy. By reading and studying in your older years about the church you will know how to help the next generation build a strong community. The happiest senior adults I know are those who continue to learn and inspire.
This is only a guide to how it might look. I suspect a lot of believers already have a good pattern, if that is working for you, then keep at it. I would love to hear back from you on what some of your devotional practices are and how they might have changed through the years.