Excerpt from The Disciple Leader: Develop Christlike Character, Influence Your Culture, Change Your World. . .
Changing your culture begins by changing yourself. Changing yourself begins by personally connecting with God on a daily basis. If God is going to mature, equip, and use you to have a ripple effect on the world, it’s essential that you’re in his Word daily, seeking his wisdom and listening to his voice. This simple act is commonly referred to as a “quiet time.”
Time alone with God is at the very heart of the Christian walk. It is your appointment with God Almighty. It’s more than a routine; it’s about a relationship. God desires fellowship with you and wants you to get to know him better. A quiet time is an invitation to be with him, to hear him speak through his Word, to say sorry when you’ve wronged him, to be thankful, to lay your burdens on him, to gain wisdom, to renew your strength, and to receive hope. God loves you and wants to be near you. If you draw near to him, he will draw near to you.
Your challenge is that the devil does not want you to be alone with God. He does not want you to be intimate with God. Our enemy wants to steal, kill, and destroy us (John 10:10). He wants to ruin us. The devil doesn’t want you to be transformed so you can transform your culture. He will distract you and give you every excuse available not to meet with God, read the Bible, or pray. And when you do have a quiet time, your enemy will throw everything at you to prevent you from applying what you’ve learned from God.
The devil will also cause you to doubt and ask, “Did God really say that?” Christian, be alert! If you struggle with your daily quiet time, you need to recognize that God is bigger than the devil. Ask for the Holy Spirit’s help to give you the desire to have a quiet time, thirst for God’s Word, and seek him in prayer.
“Equipped to Fight”
As God grows you, he will also equipyou to do good works. This is why it is so important to read and study God’s Word. The better you know it, the more you grow and the more you are able to live and work for God. If you don’t know it, you will be like a soldier who has great equipment but doesn’t know how to use it. “No matter how great the equipment is, if the soldiers are not trained, they will be easily defeated. . . . The better we know our Bible, the better we are equipped to fight the battle.”
This is where application comes into play. The Bible shapes your thoughts, beliefs, and actions. It permeates to the core of your inner being, changing your life and how you relate to others. It develops your worldview. As your worldview is molded, God will work through you to be salt and light in a godless culture. You will be “salt” because, through you, the Holy Spirit can give others a thirst for God’s Word and preserve and heal our culture. You will be “light” because the Word enlightens your path. You can point the way toward Jesus and reveal what is covered in darkness.
All of this starts by personally connecting with God on a daily basis. If God is going to mature, equip, and use you to have a ripple effect on the world, it is absolutely essential that you are in his Word daily, seeking him and listening to him. This is what is commonly referred to as a “quiet time.”
Eight Guiding Principles for Quiet Times
To ensure that I daily stay tuned in to God, I try to incorporate these eight principles for a productive and effective quiet time:
1 – Place: Find somewhere private without distractions. Don’t allow your phone, TV, the internet, or any other thing to keep you from focusing on your time with God. My regular spot is sitting in our family-room recliner. Why? I can control the environment and I’m able to concentrate.
2 – Time: I am a morning person and find that I am better able to concentrate at the start of the day. I have fewer troubles on my mind than at the end of the day. Consequently, I have more energy in the mornings. This might be the opposite for many. Choose a time that works best for you. Also, plan for ten to twenty minutes each day, and make your quiet time a priority.
3 – Prayer: This is the critical way to start your daily quiet time. I confess my sins and then ask the Holy Spirit to guide me and grant me wisdom as I read his Word.
4 – Reading: I typically use a daily devotional to guide my scripture selection (e.g., Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest). I read the context around the Scripture and then go to the commentary. Please note that it is important to be in the Bible and not use the devotional guide as “spiritual fast food.” The true power is in the Bible, not the devotion or commentary. At other times, I read a chapter of Proverbs depending on the date. Proverbs has thirty-one chapters, which works out to one chapter each day for a month. For example, I read Proverbs 7 on June 7. I will also choose a book of the Bible and read a chapter per day. If you take this route, I recommend starting with the Gospel of John.
5 – Memorization: Choose a few scriptures that have special meaning to you and commit them to memory. This will allow you to recall them and think about them at any time.
6 – Meditation: J. I. Packer describes meditation as “an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communication with God. Its purpose is to clear one’s mental and spiritual vision of God and let his truth make its full and proper impact on one’s mind and heart.”In contrast to Eastern meditation, which seeks to empty the mind, Christian meditation seeks to focus and fill the mind with the truth of God.
7 – Write: Author Joan Didion once said, “I don’t know what I think until I write it down.”Similarly, an adage goes, “There is no impression without expression, and there is no expression without impression.” It is vitally important to journal your thoughts. What do you see in God’s Word? How will you apply what you’ve learned? Articulating these thoughts will help them stick. Another benefit is that you can look back over your entries and see how God is working in your life.
8 – Prayer: At the end of my quiet time, I thank God for his Word, tell him what I’ve learned, and seek his help to apply it to my life.
These elements are not necessarily a method but rather practices I’ve developed during my almost forty-year walk with the Lord. My daily quiet time is a foundational discipline. Whether in times of trouble or bounty, I can set my eyes on the Lord. I gain wisdom, encouragement, and hope. I value this time more than any other. Honestly, sometimes it is drudgery, but most times it is the most wonderful part of my day! The key is to build a habit. If you do this, God will use his Word to shape your thoughts, beliefs, and actions. He will change you. And in changing you, he will change the world!
If you enjoyed reading this article and benefited by it, would you help me by doing two things?
SHARE the post on social media
DOWNLOAD the FREE chapter from my soon to be published book, The Discipled Leader. Please read it, share your thoughts with me and pass it along to someone who may benefit from the chapter’s message. Click on the header “Free Chapter” for more details.
Thanks for reading!
Wiersbe, W. W. Be Obedient(Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1991) p. 34.
J. I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1973), 56.
Eyre, S. D. Drawing Close to God: The Essentials of a Dynamic Quiet Time: A Lifeguide Resource. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995.
“Joan Didion Quotes,” GoodReads, https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/264509-i-don-t-know-what-i-think-until-i-write-it
Get a chapter from my soon-to-be-published book, The Discipled Leader in your inbox— free!