Friday, October 17, 2008

Daily Digest #161

Your Word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart. —Jeremiah 15:16

Please allow me to share a series of articles (4 parts) about how to have a quiet time, from the Purpose Driven Life online. May we be enlightened as we go on with our journey of faith. Pray always.


How to Have a Quiet Time

(Part 1)

“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)

*** *** *** ***

Once you’re convinced that a daily quiet time is necessary for spiritual growth, how do you go about having one? You may be motivated to do it but may not know how.

Start with the proper attitudes

In God’s eyes, why you do something is far more important than what you do.

On one occasion God told Samuel, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). It is quite possible to do the right thing but with the wrong attitude.

This was Amaziah’s problem, for “he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not wholeheartedly” (2 Chronicles 25:2).

When you come to meet with God in a quiet time, you should have these proper attitudes:

•Expectancy – Come before God with anticipation and eagerness. Expect to have a good time of fellowship with him and receive a blessing from your time together. That was what David expected: “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you” (Psalm 63:1).

•Reverence – Don’t rush into God’s presence, but prepare your heart by being still before him and letting the quietness clear away the thoughts of the world. Listen to the prophet Habakkuk: “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him” (Habakkuk 2:20; see also Psalm 89:7). Coming into the presence of the Lord is not like going to a football game or some other form of entertainment.

•Alertness – Get wide-awake first. Remember that you are meeting with the Creator, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Redeemer of men. Be thoroughly rested and alert. The best preparation for a quiet time in the morning begins the night before. Get to bed early so you will be in good shape to meet God in the morning; he deserves your full attention.

•Willingness to obey – This attitude is crucial: you don’t come to your quiet time to choose what you will do or not do, but with the purpose of doing anything and everything that God wants you to do. Jesus said, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own” (John 7:17). So come to meet the Lord having already chosen to do his will no matter what.

(Part 2)

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35 (NIV)

*** *** *** ***

Select a specific time

The specific time has to do with when you should have your quiet time and how long it should be. The general rule is this: The best time is when you are at your best! Give God the best part of your day, when you are the freshest and most alert. Don’t try to serve God with your leftover time. Remember, too, that your best time may be different from someone else’s.

For most of us, however, early in the morning seems to be the best time. It was Jesus’ own practice to rise early to pray and meet with the Father: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35).

In the Bible many godly men and women rose early to meet with God. Some of these were:

• Abraham – Genesis 19:27
• Moses – Exodus 34:4
• Job – Job 1:5
• Hannah and Elkanah – 1 Samuel 1:19
• Jacob – Genesis 28:18
• David – Psalms 5:3; 57:7,8
• (See also Psalm 143:8; Isaiah 26:9; Ezekiel 12:8)

You might even consider having two quiet times (morning and night). Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators, used to have code letters for his night quiet time: HWLW. Whenever he was with a group of people at night or home with his wife and the conversation seemed to be ending, he would say, “All right, HWLW.” HWLW stood for “His Word the Last Word”; and he practiced that through the years as a way of ending a day with one’s thoughts fixed on the Lord (Betty Lee Skinner, Daws, Zondervan, 1974, p. 103).

Whatever time you set, be consistent in it. Schedule it on your calendar; make an appointment with God as you would with anyone else. Make a date with Jesus!

Then look forward to it and don’t stand him up. A stood-up date is not a pleasant experience for us, and Jesus does not like to be stood up either. So make a date with him and keep it at all costs.

The question is often asked, “How much time should I spend with the Lord?” If you’ve never had a consistent quiet time before, you may want to start with seven minutes (Robert D. Foster, Seven Minutes with God, NavPress, 1997) and let it grow naturally. You should aim to eventually spend not less than 15 minutes a day with the Lord.

Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives , and his disciples followed him. Luke 22:39 (NIV)

*** *** *** ***

Choose a special place

The location where you have your quiet time is also important. The Bible indicates that Abraham had a regular place where he met with God (Genesis 19:27). Jesus had a custom of praying in the garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives . “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives , and his disciples followed him” (Luke 22:39).

Your place ought to be a secluded place. This is a place where you can be alone, where it’s quiet, and where you will not be disturbed or interrupted. In today’s noisy Western World, this may take some ingenuity, but it is necessary. It ought to be a place –

· where you can pray aloud without disturbing others;
· where you have good lighting for reading (a desk, perhaps);
· where you are comfortable. (WARNING: Do not have your quiet time in bed. That’s too comfortable!)

Your place ought to be a special place. Wherever you decide to meet with the Lord, make it a special place for you and him. As the days go by, that place will come to mean a lot to you because of the wonderful times you have there with Jesus Christ.

Your place ought to be a sacred place. This is where you meet with the living God. Where you meet the Lord can be just as holy as the place where Abraham met God. You don’t have to be in a church building. People have had their quiet times in their cars parked in a quiet place, in an empty closet at home, in their backyards, and even in a baseball dugout. Each of these places has become sacred to them.

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)

*** *** *** ***

Follow a simple plan

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).

1. 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; see also Isaiah 30:15; 40:31). Be quiet for a short while to put yourself into a reverent mood.

2. 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:
  • “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; see also 1 John 1:9).
  • “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law [the Word]” (Psalm 119:18; see also John 16:13).

You need to be in tune with the Author before you can understand his Book!

3. 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. Remember that your goal here is not to gain information, but to feed on the Word and get to know Christ better.

· Aloud but quietly. Reading it aloud will improve your concentration, if you have that problem. It will also help you understand what you are reading better because you will be both seeing and hearing what you are reading. Read softly enough, however, so that you won’t disturb anyone.

· Systematically. Read through a book at a time in an orderly method. 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.

Labels: ,