This was recently in the Purpose-Driven Life email newsletter I receive, and I thought I'd post it in case others are struggling with how to have a quiet time.
How to Have a Quiet Time (Part 4)
by Rick Warren
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)
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Follow a simple plan
Someone has said, “If you aim at nothing, you are sure to hit it!” To have a meaningful quiet time, you will need a plan or some kind of general outline to follow.
The main rule is this: Keep your plan simple.
You will need the following three items for your planned quiet times:
• A Bible – a contemporary translation (not a paraphrase) with good print, preferably without notes.
• A notebook for writing down what the Lord shows you, and for making a prayer list.
• A hymnbook – sometimes you may want to sing in your praise time (see Colossians 3:16).
1. Wait on God (Relax). Be still for a minute; don’t come running into God’s presence and start talking immediately. Follow God’s admonition: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10; see also Isaiah 30:15; 40:31). Be quiet for a short while to put yourself into a reverent mood.
2. Pray briefly (Request). This is not your prayer time, but a short opening prayer to ask God to cleanse your heart and guide you into the time together. Two good passages of Scripture to memorize are:
• “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24; see also 1 John 1:9).
• “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law [the Word]” (Psalm 119:18; see also John 16:13).
You need to be in tune with the Author before you can understand his Book!
3. Read a section of the Scripture (Read). This is where your conversation with God begins. He speaks to you through his Word, and you speak with him in prayer. Read your Bible …
• Slowly. Don’t be in a hurry; don’t try to read too large an amount; don’t race through it.
• Repeatedly. Read a passage over and over until you start to picture it in your mind. The reason more people don’t get more out of their Bible reading is that they do not read the Scriptures repeatedly.
• Without stopping. Don’t stop in the middle of a sentence to go off on a tangent and do a doctrinal study. Just read that section for the pure joy of it, allowing God to speak to you. Remember that your goal here is not to gain information, but to feed on the Word and get to know Christ better.
• Aloud but quietly. Reading it aloud will improve your concentration, if you have that problem. It will also help you understand what you are reading better because you will be both seeing and hearing what you are reading. Read softly enough, however, so that you won’t disturb anyone.
• Systematically. Read through a book at a time in an orderly method. Do not use the “random dip” method – a passage here, a chapter there, what you like here, an interesting portion there. You’ll understand the Bible better if you read it as it was written – a book or letter at a time.
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This article was adapted from Dynamic Bible Study Methods (Chariot Victor Books) © Copyright 1989 by Rick Warren. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
All Scripture references are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, and 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishing House. All rights reserved.
You may use this study guide for yourself or share it with friends, but please keep the copyright information within the document, and please don’t sell it.
© 2008 Purpose Driven Life. All rights reserved.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for ministers.