On Monday, I told you that if you want to grow as a Christian you have got to read your Bible. There is just no substitute. As wonderful as Ann Voskamp, Sarah Young, or even Oswald Chambers are, you will grow the most if you personally are reading your Bible, praying through it, reflecting on what you’ve read, and then applying it to your life.
So, do you have your quiet time supplies? Do you have fifteen minutes? That’s right. I said fifteen minutes. Now, if you’re thinking, “It takes more than fifteen minutes to have a quiet time.” Just stick with me. If you’ve got your Bible, a pen, a journal, and fifteen minutes, I’m going to teach you how to have a meaningful quiet time that will, over time, transform your life. Basic. Simple. Straightforward. Let’s go!
The Bible is not a Magic 8-Ball.
Do not sit down with your Bible, flip it open, start reading, and expect that God will magically give you direction for your life. Don’t turn to the index in the back, skim until you find a word that looks interesting, and start looking up verses.
Rather, choose a book of the Bible and stick with it, over the course of days, weeks or months, until you have read the whole book. Any book of the Bible is fine. They are all God’s Word. They will all speak to you. But, my recommendation would be to start with the book of John or Philippians.
The book of John is a great choice because it is clearly all about Jesus. It is my hands-down “go-to.” In the book of John, you come to know Jesus intimately, as a man, as Savior. He is tender. He is kind. He prays for you and for me. In the book of John, you can truly fix your eyes on Jesus, behold Him, and gaze upon His beauty. But, if you choose the book of John, you will be in it for a long time which, of course, is absolutely fabulous. You just need to be prepared to stick with it.
Philippians is another great choice. Written by Paul to believers in Philippi, it is full of encouragement for our daily lives. You’ll get such treasures as “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain,” the incarnation passage of Chapter 2, Paul’s passionate declaration of the supreme value of knowing Jesus in Chapter 3, and the key to life long contentment in Chapter 4. Following my method, you will be in Philippians for 4 weeks. And, if you choose Philippians, you will be able to download a resource that I will be offering on Friday.
For the sake of teaching you this method, join me in Philippians.
Open your Bible to Philippians 1 and pray something as simple as,
“God, open my heart to your voice. Please speak to me as I read the Bible.”
This is not a long extended time of prayer for the nations, the presidential election, or all the very real needs in your circle of friends, family, co-workers, etc. You simply are asking God to speak to you and enable you to hear His voice.
Each day, you’ll read two, three, or four verses, to wherever there is a natural break. For today, read with me in Philippians 1.
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Stop right there. That’s two verses. Not much, right?
Now, here’s where your journal and pen comes in. In your journal, write today’s date and then copy these two verses in your journal. Copying the verses slows you down, helps you to think, and hits on a different part of your brain than reading. I like to write it in a somewhat artistic structured manner.
Paul and Timothy,
servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus
who are at Philipi
with the overseers and deacons
Grace to you and peace
from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ
Writing it like this helps me to get what it’s saying. These two verses aren’t too difficult, but when you get to passages with lots of clauses, antecedents, prepositional phrases, etc., writing it in a somewhat structured way helps you to better see what is being said. Plus, it looks pretty in your journal. 🙂
Now, look back at what you wrote and think about it. Pray as you’re thinking. Below where you wrote the verses, write your reflections, and possibly your prayers. Just so that you can see what I’m talking about, here’s what I wrote in my journal:
Paul and Timothy identified themselves as servants, really as slaves of Jesus. Jesus, I want my identity to be first and foremost as Your servant. Their greeting to the church in Philippi is “Grace” and “Peace.” Grace. How thankful I am for Your grace toward me, Jesus. Peace. Being with you brings me peace, even in the most anxiety-producing, stressful situations in my life. Help me to choose to be Your servant. I want to experience both your grace and peace today. And Jesus, help me be like Paul and Timothy and be a messenger of your grace and peace today.
You’ll write in your words and in your way. And when you do this, you’re taking God’s Word into your heart, your mind, your life. You’re reading it, writing it, praying it. By actively engaging in what you’re reading, you’ll be much more likely to actually apply it to your life.
You’re fifteen minutes is almost done. Most likely you’ve prayed as you were writing, so this is really just a prayer to close out your quiet time. Again, it can be as simple as,
Lord, thank you for your Word. Thank you for speaking to me. Help me to remember your Word through the day and live it out.
This method of Bible study and quiet time is basic, simple, and straightforward. Of course there is MUCH more that you can do. You can follow a “Read the Bible in a Year” plan, or even a “Read the Bible in Thirty Days” plan. You can set aside thirty minutes a day to pray, recording requests and answers in a prayer journal sectioned for the nations, government leaders, your church, your extended family, your friends, your immediate family. You can research historical context, look up cross-references, do word studies, examine maps, read concordances.
All of this deep study is wonderful and I love it. And, if this is what you’re doing, I applaud you and say, “Keep it up!” But, the demands of my life don’t always allow me to have long, intense, consistent periods of prayer and study. So, I enjoy the long, intense hours in study and prayer when I’m able to get them, but even when I can’t, I enjoy a daily basic, simple, straightforward quiet time.
If you log 15 minutes of Bible study a day, every day for a whole year, you will have logged 91.25 hours of Bible reading, prayer, and reflection. 91 hours and 15 minutes in your Bible. Pretty fantastic.
Basic. Simple. Straightforward.
Fifteen minutes a day.
This will transform your life.
And, pop back on Friday, if you want to download that resource I mentioned that will guide you through the book of Philippians in four weeks.
Does having a basic, simple, straightforward quiet time make sense to you? Is this something you could see yourself doing consistently? Leave me a message and let me know what you think.