Growing in Christ
Your Daily "Quiet Time"
Meeting with the Living God at the beginning of each day is in my view and experience the most important spiritual discipline of the Christian life.
Below are two invitations to do this:
- one musical: Wanda Mann, Meet Me (listen MP3). A previous
- the other, an older classic invitation which set me on my way as a young man (below):
The Quiet Time
By Alfred P. Gibbs
Each Christian should make it the habit of his life to spend a quiet time with God at the beginning and the conclusion of each day. Before he steps out upon the untrodden path of a new day, he should take time to listen to the voice of his heavenly Father from the Bible and commune with Him by prayer. The same should be true at the close of the day, ere he retires for the night.
Through this reading of the Scriptures and prayer the believer evidences his complete dependence upon God for wisdom, guidance, blessing and the supply of his temporal needs. From this interview with God, the Christian emerges spiritually strengthened and prepared to meet the problems, temptations and testings of the pilgrim pathway (Isa. 40:29-31).
No one can begin the day well, go on well, or end up well, who fails to make provision for this "quiet time" with God.
This period must be deliberately reserved and conscientiously kept for God. Nothing should be allowed to interfere with it, for nothing can compensate the Christian for its loss. The Devil, the world and the flesh will combine in their attempts to crowd it out of the day's program, on the plea that "there is no time"; but time must be made and maintained for it, if one's character and testimony are to count for Christ. Just as Shammah, one of David's mightiest men, gained victory and renown by defending a piece of ground from the attack of the Philistines; so let us defend this "quiet time" from all attempts on the part of the enemy to take it from us (II Sam 23:11, 12).
The tragedy of thousands of wrecked lives and ruined testimonies, which we see around us, would never have taken place had these Christians put God first in their lives by honestly observing this "quiet time". Their neglect of this resulted in carelessness of life, slackness in the discharge of their responsibilities, and inability to resist temptation and sinful desire. Then came the consequent disaster which robbed them of their joy in the Lord and their usefulness in His service.
We are all naturally weak and need strength; fearful, and need courage; ignorant, and need wisdom; wayward, and need guidance; sinful, and need restoration. The "quiet time" is where this strength, courage, wisdom, guidance and restoration is supplied.
Let us, like the prophet Habakkuk, say: "I will
stand upon my watch and set me upon the fenced place (margin), and will watch
to see what He will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved"
(Hab. 2:1). May we, too, put a fence
around this "Quiet time" and reserve it, at all costs, for God.
II. The Preparation for the Quiet Time
Though we shall speak particularly of the morning quiet time, the same principles will apply to that of the evening.
First, select the best time for it. This will vary with the circumstances. Be sure to allow time for dressing, for being prompt at the breakfast table, and for leaving in time to be punctual at school or business. Remember, in selecting this period, that you are reserving the most important part of the day for God.
Second, get up in time to observe this period. This getting up is not so easy as it sounds, for it calls for considerable determination and self-discipline. It is much easier to lie in bed and contemplate getting up, than to throw off the bedclothes and get up! A devoted Christian was once asked if he made it a matter of prayer about getting up for this quiet time. He replied, "I don't pray about getting up - I get up!"
Rising on time is largely dependent on getting to bed on time the night before. The Bible puts it thus: "It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late" (Ps. 127:2)! Cultivate the proper hours for retiring. The custom of rising at a particular time each morning will soon become habitual and will yield rich returns in spiritual blessing to the believer. An alarm clock is useful if there is a tendency to oversleep.
Third, get washed and dressed promptly, this will thoroughly awaken you, so that you will not be half-asleep during the quiet time. This is most important, for one should be his best physically and mentally, lest he rob God and himself of this period by lack of concentration due to drowsiness.
III. The Observance of the Quiet Time
Each Christian must determine for himself the amount of time he is to devote to this "quiet time". Let us suppose that he chooses 15 minutes. It could very well be more, but certainly should not be less than this. We will therefore take the irreducible minimum of 15 minutes as the basis of our suggestions as to the best use to this time for both morning and evening.
This 15-minute period should serve a threefold purpose: first, for the reading of the Scriptures; second, for meditation on what has been read; and, third, for worship, praise and prayer. It would be well to devote five minutes to each of these purposes.
1. The first five minutes should be taken up with the reading of God's word. The average chapter of the Bible can easily be read within this time. It is best to follow a definite course of reading that will carry you consecutively through the Bible. A good plan would be to take a chapter form the New Testament each morning and a chapter from the Old Testament each evening.
This chapter should be read reverently and deliberately, and not raced though. Remember, it is the Divinely inspired word of God, which is "profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness" (II Tim. ). It is best to read it audible but quietly, so as not to disturb anyone else. This will prove to be a great aid in concentration and will prevent the mind from wandering during the reading.
Seeing that by the reading of the bible God's voice is heard in the soul, it would be good to ask God for spiritual enlightenment as you take the sacred book into your hands. David's prayer is a good one: "Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law" (Ps. 119:18). Thus, in simple dependence upon the Holy Spirit's guidance and teaching, the Word of God is carefully read (John -15).
2. The second five minutes should be spent
in meditation, or in thinking about
what you have read. This meditation is
not easy, but it can be developed by practice.
Meditation is to reading what
digestion is to eating. Just as
digestion turns what we have eaten into blood, muscle and bone, to be expressed
in energy and growth; so meditation translates what we have read into spiritual
blood, muscle and bone, that expresses itself in a life lived to the glory to
God and enables us to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and
Saviour Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18).
Surely we shall not deny to God's Word the thoughtful consideration we give
to other books.
As an aid to this meditation, here are a few suggestive questions each may well ask himself after he has read the portion from the Bible. The answers to these questions will serve to impress upon our hearts and memories what we have read so that the Scriptures will thus become an indispensable part of our lives:
1) What persons and places have I read about, and what have I learned about them?
2) What, in my own words, is the principle subject of this chapter?
3) What, to my mind, is the best verse? Can I repeat it from memory? (this verse should be underlined with a pencil.)
4) What example did I see in this chapter that I should follow? What command or precept did I read that I should obey? (Let us never forget that obedience to the known will of God is essential to true discipleship (John ; ; ; Luke 6:46; James 1:22-24).)
As an aid to memory, many Christians keep a prayer list and record the name of those they desire to remember at the throne of grace.