Three Steps to Experiencing Our Quiet Time in God’s Way

Devotional, Quiet TimeWhat does it take to come before God on a daily basis in such a way that He is glorified and we are blessed?  I believe not only is it scriptural that we set aside time each day to spend with our Lord, but that scripture also shows us the best way to do so.  Here are a three powerful lessons from God’s Word on how to have a better quiet time.

1. Seek Him First and Seek Him Consistently.

But (continually)seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33 NASB)

The New American Standard Bible provides a translation of Matthew 6:33 that is very helpful.  Not only are we to seek Him first and above all, we are to do so continually.  In other words, we must be consistent in lifting our Lord above all else in our lives.

If we do this throughout each day then establishing a daily quiet time will be the most natural and desirable thing in the world.  We will want to spend quality time with God every single day and we will crave it.  It will cease to be an obligation and instead become our heart’s desire.

On the other hand, if we are not spending our time each day seeking Him first and foremost then establishing a daily quiet time is going to be that much harder.  If we aren’t living for God during the hours between our quiet times then our fleshly natures are going to make it much more difficult for us to focus on Him for a time of Bible study, prayer and open communication.

2. Seek Him with Praise.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.  Give thanks to Him, bless His name (Psalm 100:4 NASB)

in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NASB)

The Bible makes it abundantly clear that we are to come before our righteous, holy God in an attitude of thanksgiving and praise.  Acknowledging God as the provider of all that we have and all that we are reminds us of our right relationship with Him: Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.

There is nothing that we have that God needs and yet He chooses to enter into a relationship with us because we are His most special creation and He loves us unconditionally.  Where we sometimes falter in this is when we let our feelings dictate our thankfulness, or lack thereof.  God understands our weakness and our circumstances but even as we are feeling badly we desperately need to call to mind all that God has done for us and all that He is doing on our behalf.  We must praise Him, even when our feelings get in the way.

3. Seek Him with Honesty and Humility.

if My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

I most often see this verse associated with corporate revival in the church.  2 Chronicles 7:14 offers a wonderful promise for a nation who will do as God asks: humble themselves, pray and seek His face and turn from their wicked ways.  But the truth is that before revival can take hold in a church or a nation it must first take hold in you and me.  Revival must be personal before it becomes corporate.

It is exactly the same for us in our daily quiet times.  We must come before God and be honest about our sins and our shortcomings.  It is only when we confess our sins and humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God that He can hear from heaven and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

It is not an understatement to say that to grow in Christ as we should, we must be willing to spend time with Him every single day.  Even more than that, we need to be excited about what He is teaching us on a daily basis and willing to hear and obey the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit.  It is only when we seek Him first and foremost and come before Him with thanksgiving and a humble heart that we can truly experience quiet time in God’s way and with His full blessing.

Prayer Workers Wanted: Apply Within Your Heart

prayer, god, quiet timeHave you ever read something that immediately grabbed your attention and made you sit up and take notice?  Perhaps it made you begin to think and to question the way in which you were doing something or going about your life.  Maybe it was so profound that it stuck with you and caused you to want to do better and to be better.

Such a thing happened to me recently.  I was reading a monthly publication and an article about prayer when I came across the following paragraph.

Craig Warner, Executive Director for the Gideon’s International writes:

Intentional and genuine prayer is work.  Praying is much more than a physical exercise of bowing our heads, clasping our hands together, and going to our knees.  The goal of prayer is God Himself – not joy, peace or blessing.  How do we reach that goal?  Practice.  In his book, The Path of Prayer, Samuel Chadwick writes, “Though a man shall have all knowledge about prayer, and  though he understands all mysteries about prayer, unless he prays he will never learn to pray”.

I can’t stop thinking about it and even better, I can’t stop praying about it.  I want to know God better.  I want all of Him, or as least as much as I can handle in this earthly body.  The principle path to knowing God better is prayer so that means I need to get a lot better at prayer and talking to Him!

I think for most of us the primary obstacle to a better prayer life is the time and effort that we are willing to invest in it.  In other words, we aren’t doing the work required, we aren’t making prayer a priority and therefore our relationship with our Heavenly Father isn’t as strong as it could be.  I know this to be true in my case and I suspect it may be true in the lives of other Christians as well.

It’s been said that prayer is our power source and that is almost right.  Prayer is not the power source, God is the power source and prayer is the method by which we stay filled with the Spirit and in harmony with the power source.  The more we pray the more we are able to attune our hearts to the master and creator of the universe who is also our savior and our friend.  The miracle in all of this is that he desires our companionship and love more than we desire His.  He seeks us, draws us, teaches us and is always working on our behalf and unless we stay in contact with Him through prayer we are apt to miss most of what He is doing.

God is so good and the depth of his love and character is infinite.  Although we have an eternity to get to know him the sooner we start and the more emphasis we place on prayer the better and sweeter our lives will be.  And through our connection to God others around us will be blessed and God’s kingdom will grow.

Who is Sitting at Your Table Tonight?

Jesus,Holy Spirit, Influence, quiet timeYesterday we discussed how everything that we put into our bodies influences us.  Today we will look at the things that we spend time with and how they influence us in return.  Let us paint a mental picture to hopefully make a point.

Having guests for dinner can be challenging.  You have to decide what to serve and when to serve and where to seat each guest.  Being a good host and practicing good hospitality is a skill and a blessing to everyone, when it’s done properly.

Get it wrong, however, and you end up with embarrassed and sometimes unhappy guests.  If you serve your vegan aunt a steak and your lactose intolerant friend a cheeseburger, they aren’t going to eat and will go hungry.  Likewise, serving food that is overcooked or getting cold because it’s been sitting out too long won’t make anyone happy.

How about that seating arrangement?  If you are fortunate enough to have friends and family where everyone gets along then you should be very thankful!  Many people don’t have that luxury and must be very careful about who sits next to whom or there will be grumbling and complaining if not outright hostility.  Some people just don’t mix well and it will be your job as host to make sure that anyone who causes a problem is asked to leave so that they don’t upset your other guests.

Do you remember all of those influences that we talked about yesterday?  The ones you let in your house?  They are now sitting at the table of your mind and your heart.  If you are saved (and I pray that you are!) then Jesus is also sitting at the table of your mind and your heart.  

How much time will you give each guest and how are you going to arrange them?  Will there be any guests that you simply must ask to leave?

I hope we agree that Jesus must be first at our table.  Jesus must get the best seat and the best that we have to offer.  Jesus is patient and kind, however, and will not force us to listen to Him or to spend any time with Him at all.  Jesus is the type of guest who brings more to the party than the host but will never force the host to take anything from Him.  Jesus wants to bless our table, every single day.

Jesus wants to sit quietly with us, talk, and let us discover who He is through intimate conversation.  Jesus will even feed us out of the good things that He has brought to our table if we will be humble enough to ask.  Jesus delights in nourishing His children, and his gifts are always perfect.

As for those others who we have invited in and now sit at our table?  As we make Jesus the head of our table and the focus of our gathering, it becomes more and more important that the other guests agree with our arrangement and support our effort.  One bad guest can ruin the entire party out of rudeness or hostility.  A good guest will recognize the guest of honor and defer to Him and not try to steal the glory or the spotlight.  The best guests will even join in the celebration and help to honor and glorify He who sits at the head of our table.  These types of guests are keepers, and should have a regular place at our table!

The moral is this:  It matters what we see and hear.  It matters who (Who) we spend our time with and what we spend our time doing.  It also matters how we spend time with our Lord and how we order our lives around Him.

How much time did you spend with the Lord today?  Did you do anything special during that time with Him?

Devotional Guides Are Like People

devotionalguidesarelikepeopleDevotional guides are meant to help us as we read and study God’s word.  Devotional guides are written for specific topics, specific books of the bible, specific periods of time and sometimes even about specific Biblical figures.  There’s even a devotional guide for The Daniel Fast book that I just purchased; so far it’s been very informative!

Clearly, there’s a range of devotional guides available and I hope you have one (or more) that you use regularly.

When I make the statement that devotional guides are like people, what I really mean to say is that they come in all shapes and sizes and that their contents are as varied as their covers. At my house is a perfect example of this.   Vicki and I are currently using two very different devotionals on a daily basis that are each excellent in their own way.  And they couldn’t be more different.

Jesus Calling

Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young, is tremendously popular.  It is a 365 day devotional that contains a paragraph or two of God talking to you (I say “you” but these are notes Sarah took in her prayer journal as if Jesus was talking to her and that’s how she wrote them down) and then two or three bible verses that pertain to the devotional text.  It’s easy to read.  It’s comforting.  It tends to be short and to the point and is perfect for when you are time crunched but still desire to be spiritually fed.

I have very much enjoyed reading Jesus Calling these past few months and I can see why so many people read and recommend it.  And it’s available in about 12 different sizes and covers and even has a kids version, so there’s likely to be one that fits your lifestyle.

My Utmost for His Highest

Then there is My Utmost for His Highest.  Compiled by Gertrude Hobbs after the death of her husband Oswald Chambers, this is a 365 day selection of his sermons and teachings.  It was first published in 1924 and is considered to be one of the most popular religious books ever written.

My Utmost for His Highest is tough reading.  Not only did Mr. Chambers use larger words and more complex sentences than we are perhaps used to seeing in 2013, he was also a very intelligent man who was not afraid to challenge believers with hard truths.  Mr. Chambers pulls no punches in delivering his sermons and lessons and sometimes what he has to say is difficult to wrap your mind around.  Rather like raw vegetables are the lessons of Mr. Chambers; they may not taste good but they are very good for you.

The really neat thing about both books is that our Lord is in both of them.  “Jesus Calling” contains the same Jesus who said “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).  “My Utmost for His Highest” contains the Jesus who told the rich young ruler “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21).

The Lord’s Words to Us

Two different statements made by our Lord in two different situations yet both were exactly right for those who heard them.  God always says what we need, when we need it and both of these fine devotional books contain Godly wisdom for those who are searching.  However, do not mistake a devotional guide as a substitute for the Bible!  The Bible has no substitute and is a living word that is designed to speak to you personally, in whatever situation you find yourself.   Make reading the Bible your priority in your devotional time and then, as you feel led, seek out a devotional guide that can enrich and enhance your worship experience.  That’s the only way it should be done.

Are you currently reading and using a devotional guide in your study time?  If so, which one and would you recommend it?  Feel free to comment below.