“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24 NIV). Someone has said, “If you aim at nothing, you are sure to hit it!” To have a meaningful quiet time, you will need a plan or some kind of general outline to follow.
The main rule is this: Keep your plan simple.
You will need the following three items for your planned quiet times:
• A Bible — a contemporary translation (not a paraphrase) with good print, preferably without notes.
• A notebook for writing down what the Lord shows you and for making a prayer list.
• A hymnbook — sometimes you may want to sing in your praise time (see Colossians 3:16).
Wait on God (relax). Be still for a minute; don’t come running into God’s presence and start talking immediately. Follow God’s admonition: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 NIV; see also Isaiah 30:15; 40:31). Be quiet for a short while to put yourself into a reverent mood.
Pray briefly (request). This is not your prayer time, but a short opening prayer to ask God to cleanse your heart and guide you into the time together. Two good passages of Scripture to memorize are Psalm 139:23-24 and Psalm 119:18. You need to be in tune with the Author before you can understand his Book!
Read a section of the Scripture (read). This is where your conversation with God begins. He speaks to you through his Word, and you speak with him in prayer. Read your Bible:
• Slowly. Don’t be in a hurry; don’t try to read too large an amount; don’t race through it.
• Repeatedly. Read a passage over and over until you start to picture it in your mind. The reason more people don’t get more out of their Bible reading is that they do not read the Scriptures repeatedly.
• Without stopping. Don’t stop in the middle of a sentence to go off on a tangent and do a doctrinal study. Just read that section for the pure joy of it, allowing God to speak to you.
• Aloud but quietly. Reading it aloud will improve your concentration and help you understand what you are reading better because you will both see and hear what you are reading. Read softly enough, however, so that you won’t disturb anyone.
• Systematically. Do not use the “random dip” method — a passage here, a chapter there, what you like here, an interesting portion there. You’ll understand the Bible better if you read it as it was written — a book or letter at a time.
Talk About It
• Which of these guidelines goes against your nature (reading slowly, relaxing, etc.)? Ask God for help in those specific areas so that your quiet time can be more effective.
• How does an effective quiet time change your day?