Like most Christians who love the Bible, I have often struggled with having a daily “quiet time,” several minutes a day set aside for Bible reading, study and prayer.
Our fathers and mothers in the faith tell us that early morning is the best time for this, and yet that just hasn’t always worked in every season of my life. Crazy work hours, taking care of young children, etc. often means that alone time with God is postponed until later. But I’ve found that it’s so important that it’s worth making an appointment with God to do it — whenever you can do it. A few other things I’ve learned about myself and my time alone with God:
- I REALLY need it! Because the Word of God transforms me. The times in my life when I have neglected daily time in Scripture have been times when I have wandered so far away from God, only He could bring me back. I think my own thoughts. I think what’s wrong is right. “I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” — Psalm 119: 11The day just seems to go better when I start with absorbing what God has to say, asking Him to order my steps that day, and taking all my stresses and concerns to Him.
- I need quiet and solitude. No music, no one else in the room.
- I need to hear from God before I let in the “noise” of e-mail and social media. Until just recently, I spent the first moments of my day checking e-mail and Facebook. Then I’d get to my quiet time after my husband left for work. My reason was that my brain was just too foggy before that first cup of coffee to think about reading the Bible and prayer. Trouble is, my brain would get too cluttered with the stuff going on in the world and what I needed to get done that day before it could rest in God’s word. Starting this summer, I’ve been trying to change this habit.
- I need structure. I can’t just open my Bible to some random place and start reading. I lose focus, get distracted with other thoughts, and pretty soon I’m falling into old, bad habits. So I have found three resources that help me stay accountable and in the Word:
- Small group women’s Bible study at church. We’ve been meeting for several years, these women I trust with my secret heart, on Monday morning. What a great way to start the week! We’ve done several of the Beth Moore studies, and in recent years have been using the LCMS Lifelight materials. We’ve done books of the Bible: Acts, the Gospel of John, Ecclesiates/Song of Solomon … and topics, such as the Christian’s Mission. The workbook has five days of “homework” that help you dig into Scripture, think about it and apply it.
- Love God Greatly. When our women’s group is on recess (usually for Advent, Lent and summer), I turn to the Love God Greatly studies. There’s a reading plan for five days a week that uses the SOAP study method — Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer — plus suggested memory verses and weekly challenges to apply what you’re learning. The summer study was on Psalm 119, which I loved, and they start Galatians after Labor Day. I started doing these with an online group. Lately, not many in the group are still doing the studies, but we keep in touch and pray for one another.
- First5.org smartphone app. This is a recent discovery that I have started using in “between times.” It’s encouragement to spend the first five minutes of your day in the Word. Monday through Friday you get a brief devotional and there’s a video weekend wrap-up with the devotional writers. First 5 just finished John’s gospel and started Genesis today.
I hope that sharing some of my quiet time strategies might encourage you to devote regular time daily to God’s Word. What do you do in your time alone with God?