How to have a quiet time
How to have a Quiet Time is taken from: "Bible Reading Journal" available from: Discipleship International.
The following is a suggested sequence for a practical Quiet Time. Click the Bible journal picture to the left for a detailed pdf on having a Quiet Time. Journals can be ordered by contacting our office.
This is not the only way, by any means, of spending time in God's Word or prayer. However, if you are just starting to develop a new habit this model will help your incorporate some important principles.
As when learning any new skill, learning to use the Bible Reading Journal will seem somewhat mechanical and artificial at first. That's O. K. You will find these guidelines helpful for developing your personal walk with God. With more experience you will see other ways to enhance your Daily Quiet Time - you will want to "colour outside the lines" so to speak.
Try to keep the balance between discipline and legalism. Having seven Quiet Times a week will not make you more loved or accepted by God. Remember that filling out the Journal pages is not an end in itself. Your goal is to get to know and love the Word of God and the God of the Word.
Your desire should be that of the Psalmist, "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul . . . Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground." (Psa 143: 8,10 NIV)
An Eight Step Model
Prepare your heart and mind
Before you read God's Word you need:
A cleansed life - Confess your sin (1 John 1:9, Prov. 28:13)
An understanding mind - Pray for illumination (Psa. 119:12,18,27,35)
A humble spirit - Depend upon the Holy Spirit (John 14:26, 1Cor. 2:12)
A submitted will - Be willing to obey (John 7:17, Psa. 119: 33-34)
Read the passage for the day
Choose either a One Year Plan, or a Three Year Plan , or design your Own Plan . Then follow the Bible reading plan you have chosen and read the passage marked out for the day. Read it several times if you can.
Mark anything that stands out
After you have read the passage at least once, go back over it and mark those things that stand out to you. Look for recurring words or concepts; key ideas; promises; commands; opposites; anything that seems to contribute significantly to the meaning of the text, or that simply impresses you. Feel free to experiment with and compare your ideas with others. Over time you will develop a system that is meaningful to you.
Meditate on the passage
Meditation is to the soul what digestion is to the body. Feasting on the best food without digesting it will lead to illness and starvation. In the same way, meditating on what God says is essential for spiritual health. Meditation involves pondering God's word, and considering its implications for life. Use the PRECEPTS acronym to ask questions of the passage.
Is there a:
Prayer to pray
Reason to praise
Error to avoid
Command to obey
Example to follow
Promise to claim
Truth to believe
Sin to confess
Record your insights
You will probably not be able to record all your insights for the day, especially if you read more than one chapter. You should however, choose one insight (most likely centering around something you marked in your Bible) to record on your Journal page. Recording your thoughts helps you clarify them and preserve them for further meditation. It helps you to share them more effectively with others. Looking back over your Journal entries will also enable you to see patterns and trends in your life; both good and bad.
To use the Journal page simply record the date and indicate all you read that day. Then give the specific reference for that part of your reading which you will comment on. Give your insight a short descriptive title in the space provided (this helps you remember you insight later when looking back over your entries). Then, simply quote the verse or give a summary of the insight. The "Insight Gained" section is for you to explain your insight or why it is that this particular passage stood out in my mind. It is usually a good practice to limit your comments to the space provided as this will encourage you to be clear and concise.
Write out a prayer of application
In many ways this is the most important aspect of your Bible reading time. The temptation is to think that once you have read God's Word, and have gained some good insights, the goal is accomplished. Not so! God has been speaking to you from His Word. It is now critical that you respond back to God regarding what He has been saying to you.
It is important to actually write out your prayer this will save you from a vague, foggy response. It will also be helpful to be able to look back on these prayers over the months and years to see God's dealings with you, and how you have grown. Use the section marked "My Prayer to God" to record a brief prayer of application. Make sure to keep it personal (i. e. using "I", "me","my",etc.), focussing on what you should be doing, rather than on what others should do, learn etc.
Step Seven-Pray the passage back to God
Take some time to pray your written prayer to God. Remember to thank Him for the grace He will give you to live out what He has prompted you to pray about.
Pray about other things
Now that you have responded back to God regarding what you have read it is time to pray about other things. It is helpful to follow the pattern given in The Lord's Prayer (Mt. 6:9-13), or to use the ACTS acronym to give balance to your prayer life.
Adoration - Worship God for who He is.
Confession - Confess your sins in the light of His holiness.
Thanksgiving - Thank Him for His provisions and promises.
Supplication - Pray for His supply of grace to meet your needs and the needs of others.
Fifteen Minutes With God
Right about now you are thinking, "Wow! It would take me about three hours to do all that stuff!!" Well you could certainly invest three hours profitably in a Quiet Time (What a great idea! Why not try it some time!) But if you are just starting to develop this spiritual growth habit you would do well to begin with fifteen minutes a day.
The key to success is to carve out some time each day and to maintain it consistently. It is much better to spend fifteen minutes a day, consistently, than to have a one hour "guilt trip" sporadically. Over time you will want to expand those minutes as God enables you.
Here is a sample outline just to give some idea of how the time could be used.
Heart and Mind Preparation 1/2 Minute
Read Your Bible 4 Minutes
Mark Your Bible 1 Minutes
Meditate on the Passage 3 Minutes
Record Your Insights 3 Minutes
Write our Prayer of Application 1/2 Minute
Pray Passage Back to God 1/2 Minute
Pray About Other Things 2 1/2 Minutes
See an example of a daily quiet time entry
The Key to Success
Now that you know how to use the Bible Reading Journal there is one more vital ingredient you need in order to succeed in developing and maintaining your daily Quiet Time with God: Make a Commitment!
There are seven important steps to an effective commitment:
Tag the Time
The ideal is to meet with God at the same time in the same place every day. Choose a time when you will be alert and able to give your full attention. For many people this is usually early in the morning. For others late at night works best. There is no time more spiritual than another. Choose the time that works best for you.- Make sure to give at least 15 minutes.
Prepare the Place
Decide ahead of time where you will have your Quiet Time. Try to choose a place where you will be comfortable (but not too comfortable!) and have a minimum of distractions.
Determine the Date
Decide when you are going to start you knew spiritual growth habit and commit to doing it daily for at least six weeks (it takes at least that long to begin to establish a habit), preferably one year.
Pick the Plan
Don't wait until you sit down to have your quiet time before you start to think about where you will read in the Bible. Determine ahead of time whether you will follow the One-Year or Three-Year Bible Reading Plans or whether you will develop your own plan. Then stick with the plan!
Provide the Partner
Accountability is one of the most critical steps in developing your Quiet Time! Share your commitment to God with someone (preferably not a spouse) who will agree to look at you Bible Reading Journal on at least a weekly basis. The purpose of this vital step is not to load you down with someone else's desires, but rather, to help you succeed in following through on the goals and action plans you have set for yourself before God. It is not necessary for this person to read all you most intimate thoughts--it is enough that they see that you are consistently using the Journal pages.
Fill out the Form
It is important to write down the action plan that you develop. This will serve as a reminder of the specific commitments you want to make, and it will facilitate sharing your commitment with an accountability partner. The Quiet Time Commitment Form (p.15) has been provided for this purpose.
Keep the Commitment!
The steps outlined above will be of no use to you unless you are convinced of the importance of having a Daily Quiet Time, and are determined to develop this spiritual growth habit. The enemy of your soul knows the immense significance of your consistent Quiet Time and he will do everything in his considerable power to thwart your attempts at developing this discipline. But, remember that the Holy Spirit is far greater than the devil and He will give you the desires of your heart. "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13 NIV)