Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Quiet Time

You often hear Christians talk about their "quiet time" which is really funny to those who have children because these are two words that just don't exist anymore.

There is never any time and seldom is it quiet. Yet even in a house full of children or not it is important that we as believers set aside some time each day/week apart from corporate worship within our churches, apart from Sunday School, discipleship class, or small group environments, apart from praying with our spouse to be completely alone with God, reading His word, hearing from Him.

Paul tells us that all scripture is God breathed and is useful for instruction, and correction. Jesus used scripture to combat Satan, and David sung of hiding God's word in his heart so as not to sin against God.

Over the years I have started many of these "quite times" employing varying methods including different times and places. Since it is hard for me to get up in the mornings I tried scheduling some time at lunches or in the evenings before bed. What I found was that lunches never work because there is always an emergency or there is always someone, a customer or a co-worker who wants to go to lunch. Right before bed doesn't work well for me because I found myself snoozing in and out of my prayer time.

I have also tried to incorporate a "quiet time" using devotionals such as My Utmost for His Highest as a means to kick-start my study. These are great intros into developing the habit but left me wanting more, wanting to study my Bible rather than read another book about the Bible.

So what does my routine look like these days?

1. It is scheduled. My quiet time is on the calendar. Each morning I get up around 6:00 or so. My coffee is ready and I head to the E and C library. If I don't schedule it or make it a part of my day it just doesn't happen.

2. My pastor, Brother Holie, gave a great sermon on personal worship so I use his format which loosely goes like this-
Always begin by praising Jesus either through reading a Psalm, singing a hymn, or simply thanking Him through prayer. Pray asking for forgiveness of sins by specifically naming your sins. Ask for your needs and the needs of others. Ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate the scripture you are about to read, to show you of commands you need to obey, sins you need to repent of, and principals you need to take hold of. Thank Jesus for hearing your prayers and for all the wonderful things He will be doing.

3. Once you have praised and prayed now it is time to dig into the word. Make sure you have a version of the Bible that is both accurate and easy for you to read. I love the King James Version but at 6:00 in the morning I can't comprehend smite and smote so I use the New King James Version. Other great translations are the ESV, the ASV, and the NIV.

4. Do your reading in a logical manner. Begin at the beginning of a book, start, and work your way through it. Don't jump around from various passages without direction and read at a pace that you can comprehend and contemplate. Don't jump into a book and try to read three chapters a day. Read slowly and with purpose.

5. Write it down - I keep a journal and a pen with me during my morning study times (see above picture). I read the passage, usually one chapter a day, re-read the chapter, then open my journal. In my journal I write the date and the book/chapter of the scripture I am reading. I then list the facts of the chapter, the who, what, when, where, and why. I then try to summarize the chapter in 10 words or less to capture the main point of the chapter. I finish by writing out how the chapter applies to me personally by asking...What command is God giving through this passage? What promise is God asking me to take hold of? What sin is God convicting me to repent of?

6. I always close in prayer asking Jesus to help me understand and to receive what I just read and what He just spoke to me.

7. I remember that having a study time, being consistent in my "quiet time" does not make me holy and it does nothing to add to my salvation or my standing with God. I am Holy only through the blood of Jesus, I am saved only through the blood of Jesus, and I have good standing with God only through the blood of Jesus.

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