How to Understand My Utmost for His Highest

Understanding My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers, Spurgeon, daily devotional, www.michelleule, www.utmost.org, Jed Macosko

The different ways I read My Utmost for His Highest

Do you have trouble understanding the devotionals in My Utmost for His Highest?

If so, you’re not alone.

Many people have told me these types of things:

“That book always baffled and guilted me when I was young. Does R teach the context of its writing?”

“I never understand it.”

And a well-respected, multiple-degreed pastor of a large church told me he has trouble figuring out what Oswald Chambers says. He says he understands, better, Charles Spurgeon (whose daily devotional, Morning and Evening can be found here.).

What to do if you’re among them?

Try these four suggestions.

1. Cheat

My husband “gave” his Sunday school class directions on how to cheat when trying to figure out the latest devotional from My Utmost for His Highest. When he saw how his class struggled to understand, he finally confessed how he did it:

“I told them I was cheating. I don’t have any more idea than they do, I just ask Jesus to explain it to me and he does.”

2. Pray

Read with an open heart and mind and ask God to reveal where this particular devotional applies to you.

This is what I do.

I read the day’s devotion each morning on line at www.utmost.org

It’s only 350-500 words long and sometimes the concepts strike like an arrow to my heart.

Other times, it seems flat or too much spiritualization to wherever I am in my life on that given day.

And that’s key.

It may not apply to me that day. So, I read it, reflect on it and then move on to my Bible reading. I use My Utmost for His Highest to get the spiritual juices “flowing,” and then allow the real work to take place with the living Word of God.

(Which, Oswald would agree, is more important anyway).

Sometimes I read and reflect over and over, particularly as I pick apart gems that connect to me.

Yesterday’s devotional (as I write this), had my picture on it. I fell back in my chair shocked at the truth conveyed to me.

Today’s? Applicable, but not so shocking.

3. Engage with the devotional and ask yourself questions.

Understanding My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers, Spurgeon, daily devotional, www.michelleule, www.utmost.org, Jed Macosko

Sample page the Daily Companion

As I write, today’s devotional leads off with this statement:

“Our calling is not primarily to be holy men and women, but to be proclaimers of the gospel of God.”

I read that and asked the Lord, “Am I seeking to be holy or to proclaim the Gospel? How would my life and behavior change if that point of view about my role altered?”

The answer is between me and Him, but it’s worth pondering for all.

Nearly every day, I ask myself a question from the reading.

Most of the devotionals had, as a basis, lectures Oswald Chambers gave at his Bible Training College in London, 1911-1914. Biddy reviewed her notes when she compiled My Utmost for His Highest, taking bits and pieces from as many as three different lectures. The BTC was aimed at preparing missionaries, so there is a missionary aspect to many of the devotionals.

As Christians, we are called to proclaim the good news to the world, so the devotionals are just as pertinent to our lives, our attitudes, our actions, as those devoted followers a century ago.

That’s where I, personally, often stumble.

So the readings are good for me to use as checks on my heart, spirit and mind. But I need to engage with the devotional to find out how and why.

4. Get help.

You can ask someone. I occasionally plead with my Facebook friends for help, but for those less vocal, try a companion guide.

Discovery House Publishers, the publisher for all the Oswald Chambers canon, recently published A Daily Companion to My Utmost for His Highest by Jed and Cecilie Makosco.

It’s a clear, concise guide that provides historical and biographical context to the daily readings, coupled with insight into the Bible passage. All on one page per devotional. (My Utmost for His Highest is not part of the book.  The companion is also available as an ebook if you read the devotional on line like I do.)

Each day begins with a question and includes background, scriptural context and then asks what the devotional says.

It basically guides you through understanding the point. It ends with three questions that you can apply to yourself.

Very helpful.

If all else fails, or even if it doesn’t, I comment every day on that reading on my Michelle Ule, Writer Facebook page. Join the conversation here.

My Utmost for His Highest is among the books that have mean the most to my spiritual development as a Christian. I read it this morning. I’ll read it tomorrow.

The Lord is not finished with me yet, I know that, and I’m grateful for Biddy and Oswald Chambers for playing a part in my spiritual development.

How about you?


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Leave a comment


  1. I was excited to find My Utmost at a church yard sale, but when I got it home, I realized it was an “Updated Edition,” edited to be more understandable in “today’s” language. Still, the the messages ring true, often “an arrow to my heart,” and sometimes so spiritually mature, I have to read it again to even figure out what he’s saying. (Is he saying what I THINK he’s saying? Wow. Yep. Arrow.) Loving it so far. I’ll be reading the UN-Updated Edition next. 🙂

  2. Michelle Ule

     /  February 3, 2015

    Glad to hear it, Amy! Check out http://www.utmost.org–I‘m not sure what edition it is but it manages to pierce my heart regularly! 🙂

  3. Oooh, the website has both! Note the tab at the top that says “Classic Edition” or “Updated Edition.” Yeah, I’m sticking with the “updated” for now (even though the classic would nicely complement my reading of the KJV ). 🙂

  4. Michelle Ule

     /  February 3, 2015

    I hadn’t seen that. Thanks!

  5. Zlatko Molek

     /  November 11, 2016

    I read My Utmost for His Highest in German when I was at the age of 21 years.Then I also read it in English when I was arround 50 years of age. Then I read it in Italian when I was 60 years old and finally when I was 65 years old in my mother tongue (Croatian). The message of that book struck me to thebottom of my heart.
    Although I haven’t understand everything I must admit I had a strong conviction this man had deep insight in God’s mind. After reading each of his daily devotionals you remain speechless but changed even when you understood nothing.

    • Michelle Ule

       /  November 11, 2016

      Absolutely, Mr. Molek. And how wonderful you could read Utmost in four different languages–it’s been translated into 40, I think. God was good, even in the difficulties Biddy faced with Oswald dying so young. I hope you keep reading all the other posts I’ve written about them. Best wishes–or should I say “volaleipo?” (I have Slovene family members and no idea of how to spell what I think is thank you!)

  1. A Daily Guide for My Utmost for His Highest (Part I) | Michelle Ule, Author
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