I’m not here to lay down rules for having the perfect quiet time. For me at least, trying to make my time with God fit into some neat box has never worked. And honestly, I don’t think God want us to find a “system.” He wants us to grow in our relationship with Him.
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.
15 Ways to Enhance Your Quiet Time
So, if it’s not about a system or a checklist of things we should cover, what should our quiet time look like?
I think it will be different for each of us, different in the various seasons of our lives and different from day to day.
But there are some things that can help us, things that have blessed others down through the centuries. This isn’t meant to be an all-inclusive list, just some suggestions.
What Are Some Ways to Enhance Your Quiet Time?
1. Make an appointment.
If possible, have a regular time and place to pray and read your Bible.
“… discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Tim. 4.7b).
We are creatures of habit. God created us that way. Half the battle of slowing down and connecting with God is reigning in our thoughts and focusing in spite of all the distractions around us.
The more we repeat the habit, especially in familiar surroundings, the easier it is to settle our hearts and minds.
2. Start by preparing your heart.
God is always looking at the heart so, even though, our best attempts to worship and pray will fall short, God honors those whose hearts at set on Him.
Jehoshaphat was a relatively good king. He made his share of mistakes for which God rebuked him, but God said this about him:
Nevertheless good things are found in you, in that you have removed the wooden images from the land, and have prepared your heart to seek God (2 Chron. 19.3).
We prepare our hearts by confessing any known sin (1 Jn. 1.9) and by asking God to show us those things we don’t see (Ps. 139.23-24).
We might also pray passages like:
Open my eyes, that I may see
Wondrous things from Your law (Ps. 119.18).
33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law;
Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
35 Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.
36 Incline my heart to Your testimonies,
And not to covetousness.
37 Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things,
And revive me in Your way (Ps. 119.33-37).
3. Include worship music.
Find songs, hymns and artists that help you enter into the presence of God. Make up your own playlist. If you’re distracted by words, choose instrumentals. If you like old hymns, find those.
4. Use written prayers or acronyms.
For me it’s “The Lord’s Prayer.” You can use it as an outline, adding your own comments along with each verse. For more information check out my post, “An Outline for Prayer.”
Many people use the acronym “ACTS.” It stands for adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. Take time to express your adoration for God and His character. Confess your sins. Thank Him for His many blessings. Then begin to share your requests.
Written prayers like those of the Puritans can also be a great aid in our own prayers. One of my favorite books on the subject is The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions. It’s filled with powerful prayers that can express the doubts, fears, struggles, and concerns of us all.
My top three are the New American Standard (NASB), English Standard Version (ESV) and the New King James (NKJV). Many people like the New Living Translation (NLT), the New International Version (NIV) or the New Century Version (NCV).
A translation is preferable to a paraphrase. Translations are what the name implies, translations from the original languages.
Go to a Christian bookstore. Ask questions. Look at the Bibles on display and read a few passages before making a decision.
6. Study Bibles and commentaries.
While someone else’s interpretation of God’s Word shouldn’t be our sole source of spiritual sustenance, there are men and women who have devoted their lives to the study of the Scripture. We can benefit greatly from their work.
One of my go-to resources is the MacArthur Study Bible. It’s available in several translations and is packed with a lifetime of study.
Another of my favorite tools is Matthew Henry’s Commentary. It’s available free at StudyLight.org. StudyLight provides a number of commentaries and other resources on their site, as well. Another good one is BlueLetterBible.
7. A Bible reading plan.
All of God’s Word is valuable in our walk with Him.
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3.16-17).
Too often our knowledge of the Bible is limited to a number of key passages.
It would take a little over 70 hours to read the entire Bible out loud at a pulpit rate. That breaks down to twelve minutes a day to read the Bible in a year. But whether you read it in a year, two years, or three. It’s important to read all of God’s Word for yourself.
8. Use Bible apps.
While I’m not advocating that you limit your Bible reading to one verse that shows up on your phone each day, Bible apps can make God’s Word readily accessible no matter where you are. Many have Bible reading, study and devotional plans available.
I’m not an expert on Bible apps. Perhaps some of you reading can make some recommendations.
9. Know the principles for sound Bible study and interpretation.
You might want to check out my post, 10 Principles for Effective Bible Study.
10. Ask good questions.
About the Bible:
What does this passage tell me about God and His character?
Is there a command to obey? A promise to remember?
Some sin of which I need to repent? A relationship I need to reconcile? Someone I need to forgive?
Something I need to change or do? If so, what is my plan to do so?
About my life and walk with God:
Examine yourself in light of 1 Corinthians 13.4-8a. See my recent post, Love, Sex & Self-Examination. (Another free printable is available at the bottom of that post.)
As I look back on the past 24-hours, what were the most significant events?
Did I have any particularly significant conversations?
Did I do any reading or hear any teaching? What were my reactions to it? What do I need to remember? How do I need to change and grow?
How did I feel during the day? What were the emotional high points or low points? Why did I feel as I did? Is God trying to tell me anything through those feelings?
Did I find myself worrying about anything today? How can I turn that worry into a prayer?
What were the chief joys of the day?
What did I accomplish today?
Did I fail at anything? What can I learn from this?
How did I do at loving God and others?
Did I have any insights into myself or another person that I want to remember?
What nuggets of truth did I glean?
Are there any verses/passages I’m meditating on or memorizing?
This can be anything you want it to be. You can use a fancy blank book or a simple notebook. You can write a little or a lot, with a pen or with a computer.
You might write down and answer the questions above, write out passages you want to learn or meditate on, record insights, quotes or other thoughts, or write out your prayers.
Many of the great men and women from Christian history kept journals.
You can read more on journaling in these two posts: Journal Prompts for your Prayer or Scripture Journaling and Journaling & Self-Examination.
12. Sticky notes.
I love these and have them in all shapes and sizes. I can record thoughts, leave myself a reminder for additional study, or note a passage I want to include in a post or Bible study.
Since I read at four places in my Bible each day (Old Testament, Psalms, Proverbs, New Testament), I have colorful sticky arrows marking each place.
You can also jot down prayer requests and anything else God brings to mind.
13. Highlighters and a good pen.
This year as I’m reading through the Bible, I’m not using the daily Bible that I have used for years (The MacArthur Daily Bible). Instead, I’m reading in what I call my counseling Bible. It’s also been the one I’ve taken to conferences and seminars. It’s full of notes and highlights. I’ve enjoyed seeing those things I recorded over the years. Some of those notes are things that I’ve incorporated into my life and ministry. But others had slipped from my memory and might have been gone for good, if not for my many notes.
It’s been said that the dullest pencil is better than the sharpest mind. Most of us have families and ministries. Our plates and, often, our minds are full of information. Too often we promise to pray for someone and then forget until the next time we run into them.
Tuck some sticky notes in your purse and jot down any prayer requests. You can transfer them to your prayer list later or just put the sticky note in your Bible or journal.
15. Devotional books.
These should not replace your Bible, but can sometimes jump-start your time with God.
I always enjoy John Piper’s devotional books, but there are so many others.
What do you do to enhance your quiet time? What helps do you use? What would you tell a new believer who is just getting started with this spiritual discipline?
Blessings as we grow together,
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