As we start a new year many of us have made a fresh commitment to read more of our Bible, pray more, and in general, have a more effective quiet time. While there is no right way or wrong way to do that, there are some things we might consider to make our time with God more spiritually profitable and enjoyable.
28 Ways to Improve Your Quiet Time
What Is a Quiet Time?
Sometimes as believers we speak a kind of Christianise. We throw around terms that we don’t fully explain. So let’s talk a little about what a quiet time is and is not.
First, what it is not.
It’s not a way to get right with God.
It’s not a way to earn His favor.
We can only be right with God by coming to Him by faith through Jesus Christ. If you’re not sure you’ve done this, you can read more about it here. In fact, this is so important, I would urge you to do that now before you finish reading this post if you’re not sure. Continue reading →
A quiet time, time with God, devotional time, prayer time … all these phrases refer to something that we all seem to be striving to do better … connect with God.
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.
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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.
5. Find a good Bible translation that’s readable for you.
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.
Do you ever feel like your quiet time is just another thing on your to-do list? Or do you ever wonder why yours is ho-hum when everyone else makes such a big deal out of it? You want to enjoy it and be excited when that alarm goes off at 6 a.m., but every day you hit the snooze button again!
We all know it. A daily quiet time is important. But with kids … and a job … and so much to do everyday, sometimes it doesn’t happen.
If you have little ones, it may be like someone once said, “My kids wake up at the first crack of the Bible!” There’s no doubt about it, children, especially younger ones, make it challenging to find time for yourself and God.
We live in a culture that values activity. Most of us hit the ground running every morning: carpools, breakfast, kids to drop off, jobs, errands to run, homeschooling, email, social media, blogging, you name it …
We set the alarm a few minutes early, but hit the snooze button. We not only snooze through our quiet time, but through any margin we had, too. The next thing we know, we hurrying the kids, grabbing a bagel on the way out the door, and rushing off, only to get caught in traffic!
So how can we fit in a regular, daily quiet time and make the most of the time we have? Here are 15 suggestions: