Spending Personal Time With God
The main focus of the Christian faith is having a relationship with God. When our Heavenly Father commanded "You shall have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3), he was stating the vital importance of the bond between us and Him.
To build a strong relationship, you need to devote time and care to it. One way is by finding "quiet time" to spend with God each day.
Why Is Quiet Time With God Important?
In my first years as a Christian, I didn't see the value in setting apart time to be alone with God each day. My church held a mid-week Bible study, so between that and Sunday morning services, I thought I was set.
But I wasn't really growing in my faith, and didn't feel any lasting sense of joy or contentment. Finally I made the connection - without my own personal time with God I was missing out on some of the most important lessons He had for me.
Once I decided to pursue being with God more, I had questions: What am I supposed to do? How long should I spend? If you have the same questions, be reassured. There is no one way to "do" quiet time. The most important thing is your desire to grow closer to God.
Getting The Most Out Of Your Quiet Time
If you can, separate yourself from other people or things that might distract you.
Set a general time frame, but be flexible - some days you might go longer, others you might finish earlier.
Be patient with yourself, especially if this is a new discipline - soon you'll become more comfortable and even look forward to it.
Some Elements Of Quiet Time
Reading God's Word
"Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture…" 1 Tim:4:13
Since God has left us His Word to teach and encourage us, it makes sense that reading the Bible would be a vital part of quiet time. Trying to decide where to start can be overwhelming. But there are lots of good reading plans available online at sites like Crosswalk.com.
Here are some hints:
- Think small - focus on one scripture passage, one chapter or one story at a time.
- Go in sequence - skipping around can be distracting and less effective.
Meditating On God And Scripture
"I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds." Psalm 77:12
Just reading isn't enough. You need to let ideas and truths settle into your mind and heart. That means devoting some time to review and reflect.
Repeat the scripture passage several times to yourself. You may feel funny doing this at first, but if you stick with it, the benefits will come:
- You'll memorize the scripture and will have it to share with someone else later.
- You'll discover truths about God from the passage.
- You'll make connections between the scripture and your own life.
"Therefore let everyone who is godly pray…" Psalm 32:6
Some people feel nervous about praying, like they aren't sure they're doing it right. There is nothing magical about praying - it is simply talking to God. You may not see Him sitting next to you, but you can be sure His presence is right there.
I have been challenging myself to stop talking and be still more. It's not easy, because I like to talk! But when I do, that time reveals something special about God I might miss by going too fast.
- Start with giving thanks - that's a great reminder of all the blessings He's already given you.
- Then, have a time of confession for anything you've thought, said or done that you know go against God.
- Once your heart is clear and clean, lay your concerns and requests before Him.
- Worship and praise is a great way to finish prayer time.
"...the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple" Psalm 19:7
Many giants of the faith saw journaling as a way to teach and encourage others.
Thomas Kempis, the author of the classic The Imitation of Christ wrote, "Never be entirely idle; but either be reading, or writing, or praying or meditating or endeavoring something for the public good."
Journaling will document your spiritual growth and provide a special glimpse into your own personal journey. Invest in a nice notebook devoted just to this. And if you can, find a relaxing place to settle, where you won't be too distracted. Whether it's five minutes or a half hour, you want that time to be uninterrupted.
- Use the day's reading as your starting point.
- Write the passage or topic out on the top of the page.
- Jot down anything about the scripture that interests you or makes you wonder.
- Put down your Insights, and any connections you make to your own life.
Other Ideas For Quiet Time
- Go for a walk in the woods, the park, or a beach. Being out in nature can turn your heart toward the God who created all of it. Being out in our back yard with our dog in the morning is a special few moments for me. Looking around at the trees and up at the sky helps me to fix my eyes on God.
- Do a scripture study. Choose one, preferably small, section of scripture - one psalm, or a single chapter or story. Then, take a few days to really pull it apart. You might be amazed at how much you learn by slowing down.
- Make music. If you like to sing or play an instrument, pick a favorite hymn or worship song. As you go through it, lift it up as a gift of praise to God. You may start feeling gratitude or convicted about something you've done. Give it all over to Him as you make music. By the end of the song, you'll have come closer to God.
- Write God a letter. Pour out your heart to God, no matter what comes out. He delights in our praises, longs to comfort us if we're hurting, and is willing to correct us if we're heading in the wrong direction. Writing things out can bring us closer to God as we share.
- Write out your personal testimony. Memories can be powerful, and often lead us to greater understanding about ourselves. Celebrating God's love for us and how he's changed our lives is a very special way to spend our quiet time.
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