Taking Time to Be With God

How to have a personal quiet time with the Lord

One of the most awesome privileges we have as Christian believers is to be made one of God’s children and to be able to have a personal relationship with the Almighty Creator God. Like any relationship, we need to spend time together for that relationship to genuinely grow stronger. Since it is our sin that had separated us from God and since our Lord Jesus Christ first graciously reached out to redeem us, we know that our INACTION in this area is a key reason why   This time alone with God is often called “our quiet time”“our personal devotions” or “our time alone with God.

Start with the right goal

The PRIMARY purpose of a quiet time is to get to know God better. “I want to know Christ” (Phil 3:10). The mechanical act of doing the devotions every day is not our primary goal. The regular (daily) time with God is simply the means to develop a strong relationship with God. So we SIMPLY make our primary goal in our devotions to be alone with God. This is something Jesus Himself modeled while He was on this earth. In addition, when we do our quiet time regularly (as a spiritual discipline) using the Bible (God’s word to us) it is a powerful tool to help our characters to grow more like Christ (I Tim 4:7-8). So simply start with the expectancy, the reverence and the desire to draw closer to God.

Select a time and place

The best time to meet with God is the time when you are at your best. Be realistic about the goal of how long you want your devotions to be because continuing them over a long period of time is far more important than doing them a long time for a couple days. If you have never had a regular daily time with God before, start with a goal of 15 minutes a day Monday through Saturday (you can always make it longer later if you want). Choose a place where you can be alone to pray, think, read the Bible and even cry at times. Be creative, Susanna Wesley (who had a small house and around a dozen kids) use to pull her apron over her head to be in her own place of seclusion with her Lord, Jesus Christ. If you’re an outdoors type person, make sure to have a place you can go in the woods or by a brook at least a couple times a week when the weather permits. Whatever place you pick, it should be your special place to meet with the Almighty Creator of the Universe Himself!

Follow a simple plan

My suggestion is …

  1. Begin with a simple one sentence prayer (Lord, here I am; please meet with me today and help me learn from Your word {the Bible} today). Follow this up with a deep breath and quietness for a minute. Just relax and wait on God (Ps 46:10).
  2. If there is some sin that comes to mind at this time, confess it before the Lord and receive His forgiveness (I John 1:9). It’s best to get this cleared up right away when you first think of it.
  3. Read a section of the Bible (see “Suggestions for What to Read in the Bible during Your Quiet Time”). Don’t try to read a large amount or race through it to say you have done it. Read the portion (and reread it if it wasn’t clear) asking yourself what it said and how it applies to your life. It is best to use a  translation (rather than a paraphrase) that you personally understand for your quiet time. Even Rick Warren who quotes many paraphrases in “The Purpose Driven Life” encourages the use of “a contemporary translation (not a paraphrase with good print, preferably without notes.” The most common translations today are the New International Version (NIV), New American Standard Version (NASB), New King James Version (NKJV) and the King James Version.
  4. Meditate (reflect and contemplate) on the passage you read and the key thought(s) you saw. You may want to write what you have discovered in a journal. You also may want to memorize Bible verses, so you can use this time to review those verses
  5. End in a time of prayer. You’ll naturally want to pray for your family, your church, your friends and the problems you face. But also take time to thank God for the many blessings you have as well as thanking Him just for being such a great God. Pray for power to change whatever area God is working on in your life and pray for those who don’t know Jesus. I personally have a different emphasis for prayer each day of the week (family, missions, church, country/morality, Belarus & India, etc). It is also helpful to have a notebook for specific prayer requests you are praying for. It is so exciting when you see how many God allows you to “cross off” because they have been answered.

Make this time a habit so it comes more naturally

Those who study this area say it takes about 3 weeks to get familiar with a new task or habit. Then it takes another 3 weeks to become a habit. The reason why many people are not successful in their quiet times is because they have never made it past the six-week barrier. For your quiet time to become a habit you must have one daily for at least 6 weeks. William James had a famous formula for developing a habit that Rick Warren quotes in his “Next Step to Spiritual Growth”

  1. Make a strong resolution (vow). You must always start with a strong initiative. If you begin halfheartedly, you'll never make it. Make a public declaration by telling others about your decision.
  2. Never allow an exception to occur until the new habit is securely rooted in your life. A habit is like a ball of twine. Every time you drop it, many strands are unwound. So never allow the "just this once" to occur. The act of yielding weakens the will and strengthens the lack of self­-control.
  3. Seize every opportunity and inclination to practice your new habit. Whenever you get the slightest urge to practice your new habit, do it right then. Don't wait, but use every opportunity to reinforce your habit. It does not hurt to overdo a new habit when you are first starting.

    To these suggestions I would add one more:
  4. Rely on the power of God. When it is all said and done, you must realize that you are in a spiritual battle, and you can only succeed by the power of the Holy Spirit of God. So pray that God will strengthen you and depend on Him to help you develop this habit for His glory.

Final Helpful Reminders

  1. The truths of God that we find in the Bible are like “spiritual food” for us (Deut 8:3). This image is very helpful during frustrating times we face in personal devotions. “A varied menu is much more appealing”. As with regular food if our intake of the Bible is the exact same every day, it can feel stale, dull and dry. Just like food, we can have the same basic components but vary how they are done and the result taste much better. Don’t be afraid to try some variety in your personal, daily devotions. On the flip side we must remember that “the same food, no matter how bland, is beneficial.” The “feeling” or “motivation to jump in” has little to do with whether our daily Bible reading is valuable and has a positive effect on our lives. We may get tired of the same salad every day, but it is invaluable to our bodies. There is a difference between nourishment and appetite. The best is to have both, but if one is not present, stress the nourishment! “The purpose of food is nourishment, not taste”. The taste is an added blessing which we should thank God for regularly! God’s word nourishes our inner being, whether we feel “awed” or “excited” about our Bible reading or not. So rejoice when it “tastes good”, and don’t quit eating (reading) when it seems bland.
  2. There are no short-cuts to godliness. There is no easy path. Often our old nature thinks “why can’t the Christian life be more spontaneous, extemporaneous and unstudied?” Why not just go to church or do devotions when we feel like it? As John Guest points out, “The ‘spontaneous’ person who shrugs off the need for discipline is like the farmer who went out to gather eggs.” On the way he stopped to fix the pump, but when he went for the tools, he changed to fix the broom, and when he went to do that he saw the hay needed straightening. It’s clear the farmer isn’t going to get the eggs collected or any of the other desires he has. “He is utterly, gloriously spontaneous, but he is hardly free. He is, if anything, a prisoner to his unbridled spontaneity. The fact of the matter is that discipline is the only way to freedom; it is the necessary context for spontaneity.” It is well worth the effort in life to develop a personal, daily quiet time.
  3. Don’t be legalistic thinking if a single day is missed you should feel guilty – simply work to make it regular!!!
  4. Everyone (almost) is busy. A daily quiet time is specifically for the busy person. Don’t let the busyness of your life keep you from that which will provide your greatest help in life – meeting with God!