We talk a lot about having a quiet time with God, but not as much about what it is or what it looks like. Although the term isn’t in the Bible, Jesus modeled it for us. The phrase “quiet time” describes that regular, intentional time we spend alone with God to foster our relationship with Him. But how do we do that? What does it look like?
Basic Elements of a Regular Quiet Time
So, what’s included? There aren’t any hard and fast rules, but there are some basic elements that are necessary for a quality time with God. Keep in mind, these may look different for different people. One person may write her prayers and another pray out loud. One person may worship God through song with hands raised. Another may fall on her knees with her fact to the ground.
- The Bible – God reveals Himself to us in the Bible. He speaks to us through His Word. He shares His purposes, His character, the way He works, and His will for us. We cannot know God, if we don’t know His Word. And we can’t know His Word if we approach it in a haphazard manner. A systematic plan will help us build a habit and keep what we read in the right context. (See “4 Things to Consider for Biblical Context.“) Meditating or deeply thinking on a Bible passage helps us get everything God has for us in it. (See “5 Probing Questions to Help You Meditate on Scripture.“)
- Prayer – Yes, God already knows what’s on our heart. But He also commands us to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) and to pray in every situation (Philippians 4:6-7). When we pray, we block out the world and focus on our Creator. Prayer helps us process our life from God’s perspective. Talking with God helps us align our thoughts and feelings with His. Prayer opens our hearts and our minds to the work of God’s Holy Spirit.
- Worship – God deserves our worship, our praise, our professed allegiance to Him and Him alone. When we worship the one, true God, life and eternity come into the proper perspective and we too find our proper place.
- Response – When God speaks, we need to respond. Perhaps we need to adjust our thinking to truths He’s shown us. Maybe we need to respond with praise or thanksgiving. Often we need to confess a sin and turn away from it. Or maybe there is a specific way we need to obey God.
My Daily Quiet Time
An example is always helpful, so I’m happy to share with you what my time with God looks like. Although I try to stay sensitive to the Spirit’s leading each day, this is the basic format I follow. (And my quiet time always includes coffee.)
- Journal – I begin by writing the things that are foremost on my mind. I do this for a couple of reasons. I want to leave this record for my children. And, I want to clear my mind of worries or pressing responsibilities so I can focus on God. (I “borrowed” this from Amy Hale. She refers to it as her daily “brain dump.” Follow Amy on Instagram or Facebook!)
- Pray – I usually bullet the prayer topics as I pray to stay focused. I start with worship, thanksgiving, and repentance. Then I move to petitions. There is always more to pray about than time, so I have a different focus for each weekday. (I “borrowed” this practice from a former pastor of mine!) On Mondays I spend intense time for my family members. Tuesdays are mission needs. Wednesdays are world needs. I specifically pray for my friends on Thursday. Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are open to what’s needed most. And of course, if there are urgent needs it doesn’t matter what day it is! This type of schedule just helps me to remember to pray for everything.
- Bible – I always have a Bible reading plan to follow. For the last decade or so, I’ve had a full year-long plan. It keeps me in the Word regularly and helps me keep what I read in the right context. I also typically use the 4R Bible study method as I read and I use highlighters and study notes to get the most out of what I’m reading. I use a single-column, wide-margin journaling Bible with heavier paper. That way I make my study notes right in my Bible.
- Pray & Respond – I need to do better here. The point of my time with God is not just to listen, but to respond to what He says. Some days I do better than others.
Of course, I’m still learning. I still miss days, but rather than being legalistic about it, I give myself grace and then go right back to it.
How Can I Encourage You?
If you’re struggling to have a quiet time, I’d love to encourage you. (See “11 Tips for a Quality Quiet Time.”) There are lots of resources on this website. And I lead a Bible reading group on Facebook that is a wonderful place for encouragement, learning, and community.
What ‘s your biggest struggle in having a regular time with God?