As a deer thirsts for streams of water, so I thirst for you, God.
I thirst for the living God. When can I go to meet with him?
Do you have a longing for God the way that this Psalmist did? One of the most awesome things about being a Christian is getting to experience a personal relationship with God. The fact that the God who created us wants us to know Him intimately is a privilege that many believers take for granted. We learned at an early age that it’s important to spend quiet time with God daily, but many of us struggle to do so. This is something, which I can relate to, so I wanted to share some practical tips with you that have helped me be more consistent with my daily quiet times.
1. Set a time. Depending on your schedule, figure out what time works for you every day, and stick to it. It doesn’t matter what time you choose, just make sure it’s a time that you won’t compromise. Regardless of the time you choose, know that you will be attacked with sleepiness, boredom, tiredness and a variety of other distractions. This is totally normal. The devil will constantly attack you during this time, so fight through it and bring your body into submission as Paul counsels us. (1 Corinthians 9:27 – But I discipline my body and keep it under control.)
2. Find a place. Sometimes when I do my quiet time at night, there’s still a lot going on at my house; so, I’ve been known to go in my closet and shut the door. It doesn’t matter where you do it. I get distracted pretty easily; a quiet space is essential for me. Find a place with the least disruptions possible, where you can completely focus. The essential thing is that you get to spend quality time with God.
3. Set the mood. My phone is the most distracting thing that I own, and during the day on most days, I’m guilty of checking it at least once a minute. My advice? Put it in another room. Sometimes, at the beginning of my quiet time, I can’t focus my thoughts. I’ve found that singing a song of worship will usually help quiet my mind and help me concentrate on the Lord.
4. Start with worship. Fix your mind on God and worship Him for who He is. I try to focus on an attribute of God or one of God’s names and fully immerse myself in praising Him. The Bible tells us that “true worshippers worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), so focus on worshipping Him from deep within yourself. Forget about yourself and concentrate on Him.
5. Pull out your Bible. The first thing I do when I pull out my Bible is ask the Lord to speak specifically to me through it. Ask Him to give you the wisdom to understand what He wants to communicate to you that day.
When you read your Bible, start with any book and read through it. Some days I read a chapter, sometimes just a small section, but I would recommend that you don’t skip all over the Bible. I used to practice the “fortune cookie” method of reading the Bible. I would flip all the way through it looking for a message from God. Some days, I would open up the Bible, put my finger randomly on the page and tell myself that that’s what God wanted to tell me that day. This is not the best way to hear from God. The Lord can speak any message from any passage, so start somewhere and try not to skip around.
I would also recommend grabbing a pen and a journal. Read through your portion, and write down the thoughts that stick out to you. I’ve been reading 2nd Kings chapter 5 every day this week, and God has emphasized something different daily and has been revealing Himself to me through the story of Naaman – a familiar story that I’ve known all my life. I tend to read through my daily passage about 3-5 times.
6. Meditate. Write down whatever thoughts are on your mind. During these times, I usually start considering the parallels between my life and the portion I’m reading. I think about what God is revealing to me about Himself through the portion, and the practical ways that I can apply whatever I’m reading to my life. I consider my life, ministry, work, family and friends in connection with the passage. I think about the struggles I’ve been having and the openings for sin in my life. God has promised to lead us into all truth through the Holy Spirit, and He’s never going to ask us to do something that is contradictory to His Word. When we put the truth that He is revealing through the Word into practice, we spiritually grow and mature.
7. Have a conversation with God. In Anne of Green Gables (one of my favorite books), Anne is asked to say a prayer at bedtime. Having had very little experience with praying, she imitates the style of prayer she is accustomed to hearing at church and prays the following: “Gracious heavenly Father, I thank Thee for the White Way of Delight and the Lake of Shining Waters and Bonny and the Snow Queen. I’m really extremely grateful for them. And that’s all the blessings I can think of just now to thank Thee for. As for the things I want, they’re so numerous that it would take a great deal of time to name them all so I will only mention the two most important. Please let me stay at Green Gables; and please let me be good-looking when I grow up. I remain, “Yours respectfully”, Anne Shirley.”:)
You don’t have to talk to God using words like “Thee” and “Thou”. Talk to Him the way that you would talk to your closest friends. He knows you and is familiar with the way that you talk anyway, so pour yourself out to Him as your best friend. I often wake up in the morning praying, “Good morning God!” When I’m upset about something, I tell him exactly, as I would tell a friend, what is happening. I’m completely honest with Him about the areas where I’ve fallen into sin that day and truthful about how I feel. I spend time praying for others, and ask God simply for the things that I need as well.
If God is still bringing thoughts to your mind after you pray, write those down as well.
8. Do life together. The fact is that as we consistently have our quiet times, we mature spiritually and will develop a deep personal relationship with God. It’s better than any relationship we’re able to experience with any individual on this earth. God is always with us, and we’re able to talk to Him at any time. Sometimes I’ll ask God what I should wear as I’m getting dressed in the morning, or ask Him to give me the words to speak to my coworkers when I see them coming so that I’ll be able to encourage them or share the gospel with them. There is no conversation that we can’t have with God.
We are encouraged to approach God boldly with freedom and confidence (Ephesians 3:12) and the more time we spend with Him, the stronger that relationship grows. I mentioned to a friend last week that God told me not to do something. He was confused at my sureness in knowing that I wasn’t supposed to do something that I wanted to do so badly. As Stephen Kia so beautifully explained, you can’t describe your mother’s voice to me in such a way that I could pick it out if I didn’t know her, but you will always know your own mother’s voice. In the same way, when we walk with God, His voice becomes well-known to us. We will be able to know without a doubt what the Lord is saying.
Another way to “do life together” is by sharing what you’re learning with fellow believers. The Lord uses godly people in our lives to help us grow and will use you to motivate others in their spiritual lives as well.
I encourage you to spend time with God because it is a privilege for us to be able to know Him. I used to spend time with God because I was worried that I wouldn’t be blessed if I didn’t, but the truth is that God loves you and me the same whether we have a quiet time or not. If you have no desire to have a quiet time, ask God to give you the craving to know Him. I have prayed that prayer, and I know that He’ll answer it for you like He did for me. Just be honest with Him, and He will meet you wherever you are!