Each day, too, acquire something which will help you to face poverty, or death, and other ills as well. After running over a lot of different thoughts, pick out one to be digested thoroughly that day. —Seneca
Today, we largely associate daily “devotionals” — short, reflection-spurring texts — with religious scriptures and faith-themed books which feature musings, challenges, and brief bits of inspiration for each day of the year.
But as Seneca proves above, for millennia, devotional-type exercises have been engaged in not only for religious purposes, but for philosophical ones as well. The devotional habit is really for everyone, and is more important than ever in a time of great uncertainty and acute existential stress.
If you’re part of a faith tradition, you probably already know of some popular devotional books to study. Below, we’ll highlight some spirit-edifying but secular devotional texts that men of every stripe may enjoy and find uplifting.
First, however, let’s dig into why you should consider making devotional reading part of your daily routine, and how to get the most out of this practice.
The Benefits of Daily Devotional Reading
While the effort needed to sustain the devotional habit isn’t onerous — reading just a few pages of text for a few minutes each day — the benefits it will accrue to your life are significant:
1. Maintains a deeper element in your life. When you were a teenager and in your twenties, perhaps you read religious and philosophical books with some frequency. Maybe you even had a daily devotional practice back then. You thought big thoughts. You pondered big questions. But then you got a real job, and got married, and had kids. And that soulful reading and reflection dropped out of your life. You started living on the surface of things, metaphorically “paycheck to paycheck,” in that your thoughts only extended to taking care of life’s basic necessities from one day to the next.
A daily devotional practice restores a more existentially profound element to your life, so that you don’t lose track of life’s deeper dimensions amidst the more mundane stresses and urgencies of day-to-day living.
2. Keeps your focus on the most important things. While we like to take a kind of “one-and-done” approach to life’s great truths — believing that once you learn and know something, you never have to think about it again — the reality is that we need constant, daily reminders of who we want to be. Daily devotionals keep your most important values at the forefront of your mind, where they can actively influence your decisions.
3. Injects a bit of ritual into your day. The power of ritual is undeniable, especially in a chaotic world. There are a number of ways to add spirit-centering structure to your routine; a daily devotional reading is one of the most powerful.
Some Guidelines for Your Daily Devotionals
1. Morning is best. You can do your devotional time whenever it works for you. But, there’s a case to be made for scheduling it for the a.m.
For a lot of people, the morning starts with a handful of stressful emails or some social media/newsy doomscrolling. But given that how you start the day will influence your mindset during the rest of it, it’s hugely beneficial to kick things off