“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” James 4:8
When Aaron and I were just friends, we often went on "friend dates." Actually, we would call them cheap Tuesdays. It generally consisted of Dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings (R.I.P. 45 cent wings), and $5 cosmic bowling from 9 pm-11 pm. This happened pretty much every week during the summer since we both didn’t have any classes. Sometimes things would come up, and I still would prioritize this time because I enjoyed it so much. However, I never prioritized any consistent time with the Lord. As a result, I became stagnant and complacent in my walk with him. I wasn’t learning more about him or being transformed into the person he wanted me to become. I was selfish. I went to church and I prayed thinking that was enough. I wasn't making Christ the love of my life. Can you relate? We are the bride of Christ and as such HE should be the love our life. Instead, we place other people before him negating our relationship with him. The love that we have for him should go deeper than that of any other love in our lives. But, the only way to make him your first love is to spend time with him.
James 4:8 says “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” This is a promise from God that if we actively pursue him, he will pursue us. The end result is that we will have a closer relationship with God. Through studying his word and spending time with him, we can learn more about his character and his will for our lives. As we do this, our love for him will grow deeper. When Aaron and I first started dating, it was a lot easier for me to picture myself with someone else. Compare that to now, 7 years later ( 3 of that married) and of course I could imagine myself with someone else, but I have no desire to do so. It’s the same way with God, as we become closer to him, we desire him more than other things. We don’t seek to find the security, stability, and love in other places because we have so much faith in God and what he has shown us in our quiet times with him.
Reading scripture is how we can best learn about God. I recommend reading scripture either topically, or by book. If you look at scripture topically, try to spend more than one day on the topic. Instead, really delve into the topic for a few days or a week. This way you are really understanding the scriptures and meditating on them. I usually read by book. Right now, I am reading the book of Ruth. I like this approach better for my quiet times because I can understand the context of each passage much better. I can look up what was going on during the time period, who are the groups or tribes of people mentioned, and where they are positioned geographically. Whether you choose a topical or a book approach I urge you to choose quality over quantity. Most of the time I only read 3-5 scriptures a day, but I really narrow in on those scriptures. I sometimes look up Greek words, or do character studies. I really like bible verse mapping as my method of bible study. It helps you to go deeper into the scripture. So don’t feel overwhelmed by thinking you have to read chapters upon chapters. Sometimes, you can read just a few verses and learn more about God than you would reading multiple chapters at a time.
Spending time with God is something that you must make a priority and do consistently. They go hand in hand. You will never have quiet time consistently until you view it as a priority. I can’t help you with seeing this time as a priority. That is something that only you can do, and should pray about. I can, however, help you with the consistency part. For some people, consistency will look like having a quiet time at different times everyday. This maybe the most realistic thing for those who feel like they have no time. So if you fit into this category, your goal should be to not go to sleep until you have done your priority time. A quality priority time that is not rushed. You may also need to ask God to stretch time for you. Have you ever done this? I often pray this prayer when I have a lot of things to do, but not enough time. God sees time differently and can make it stretch to fit whatever you need to do. Assuming of course that you are also actively working in the time that he opens. For those who know they have the time, but have just lacked the consistency, your goal should be to have a priority time at the same time of day each day. Most people like to do it in the morning, but for others you may choose your lunchtime, or at night before bed. The time of day doesn't really matter as long as it is consistent each day. Another tip, that some people will cringe at, is to think of your quiet time as an appointment with God. If you have a planner schedule it in. This can make is more tangible for you. I include this as a starting point, you should make your time with God your first appointment and schedule everything else around it. Once again, this time should be unhurried. It should be a priority.
“Gracious God, Thank you for the things you have done for me. Thank you for loving me and allowing me to get to know more about you. I commit this time to you. Show me more of who you are and what you want for me. Guard my mind, so that I will not be distracted. Surround me with an atmosphere of peace. In Jesus' Name, Amen.”
This prayer should help prepare your heart and mind for your time with the Lord. You can write your prayers, read them (scriptures), or speak them out loud. You can lift up the same person or different people. After you pray for others, begin to pray for yourself. Share your heart with God. Tell him how much you love and need him. Tell him your worries, fears, and desires. He will listen to you. “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:12
A moment of stillness
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10
One of the hardest things for us to do is be still. We live in a world of instant gratification, and that has taught us to become anxious when we have to wait. Why do you think you get frustrated when there is a long line at Starbucks, or when your movie is sold out and you have to wait for the next showing. We like things our way and fast. God tells us to slow down. Be still. It is important to still yourself during your quiet time so that you can meditate on God’s word, his revelation, and his will for your life. Stillness also puts you into a position to listen. You can hear what the Lord is saying to you, and see how he is moving your heart. This may take a lot of practice. Pray that God will give you peace and help you to be still. Even in this moment. I want you to stop what you are doing and just be still for 1 minute. Say a prayer to the Lord.Slow your thoughts, go to a quiet place and then come back and finish reading this post. Don't worry I’ll wait! Your 1 minute starts now.
How was your moment of stillness? It’ so good to just be still and wait on the Lord. The last category I want to talk about is worship. While technically this whole time is a period of worship, I want to encourage you to find a way to worship God through other avenues. You can sing a song, play a song, or just listen to a song. You can read a poem or passage from a book. You can read a Psalm. Take this time to reflect on the words and be thankful for what God has done for you. You can take any posture you want. Lay down. Stand Up. Kneel down. It doesn't matter. Just choose a way to give thanks to God and worship his name. Do what you were made to do.
I hope that you feel more equipped to have a quiet time with God. You can use all or some of these categories to craft a template for your time with the Lord. Remember the most important thing is that you are prioritizing spending quality time with him. It isn't rushed or a task to check off. It is a time for you to commune with your great father, and grow closer to him. Go in stillness.
“Gracious God, I thank you for each and every reader of this post. Give them a desire, a burning passion to spend time with you. Help them to see the fruits of this time in their personal growth and understanding of you. Help them to be still and listen to what you have to say. You are our everlasting father, our creator, our king. We love you so much. In Jesus' Name, Amen.”