Excerpt from How to Study the Bible seminar written by Alice Rich who has served more than 15 years in Chaplaincy and Pastoral Ministry using her bachelor of arts degree in theology and master of arts degree in counseling psychology.
How to BEGIN a Daily Quiet Time
1. Select a specific time.
The best time to have a quiet time is when you are most refreshed.
Reasons for considering an early morning quiet time:
- It is the example set by Jesus and most Bible characters. (Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Hannah, Job, Hezekiah, David, Daniel, etc.)
- It seems logical to begin the day spending time with Jesus!
- It demonstrates that meeting with God is your first priority. You give Him the first part of your day. (The time to tune your instrument is before you play the concert, not after!)
- You are likely to be more rested, your mind is less cluttered, and it’s often the quietest time in your home!
Whatever time you set, be consistent!
2. How long should a quiet time be?
That’s between you and God, but here is a suggestion: Start with 15 minutes and let it grow.
If you are not currently having daily devotional/study time don’t try to jump in for an hour at a time: you may get discouraged and quit altogether. Make a commitment to spend 15 minutes a day in God’s Word on a consistent basis. If you do this, I can guarantee that over the next few weeks you will begin to see the difference God will make in your life! (Devotional books are for extra reading―it is important to spend time reading from the Bible each day.)
3. Choose a special place; Jesus did!
“Jesus left the city and went, as He usually did, to the Mount of Olives…to pray” (Luke 22:39, GN).
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed” (Mark 1:35, NIV).
4. Gather the resources that you will need.
A Bible, a songbook if you want to sing, a notebook to write down what the Lord reveals to you and to keep your prayer list.
5. Begin with the right attitudes
- Be reverent (Respectful – be quiet inside)
- Be expectant
- Be willing
“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
“Open my eyes to see wonderful things in your heart” (Psalm 119:18, LB)
“But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33, NIV).
6. Use this plan to get you started
- Relax (1 minute)
- Read (4 minutes)
- Reflect (4 minutes) (Meditate)
- Record (2 minutes)
- Request (4 minutes) (Prayer)
Be still and quiet! Prepare your heart. Take a few deep breaths and wait on God.
Read a section of scripture, begin reading where you left off the day before. Read from a Bible that you have not written notes in – read until you feel God has taught you something.When God speaks to you, stop and think about what He has revealed to you.
Think about what the passage means for your life and then write down your thoughts.Part of reflecting is memorizing verses that speak to you in a special way.
Write out a personal application statement including how and when you will carry it out. If you write it down and decide a plan of action you are more likely to become a doer of the Word.
Conclude your quiet time by talking to God about what He has shown you and by talking to Him about special prayer requests.
7. Plan To Be Successful!
- Go to bed at a regular time each night so you will be well rested.
- Get up immediately and get thoroughly awake.
- Stay consistent.
- Don’t give up if you miss a day or two―just get back on track. “Let’s not get tired of doing what is right, for after awhile we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up” (Galatians 6:9, LB).
How to Hear God’s Word
1. Be ready and eager to hear God!
Ask God to prepare your heart.
Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let Him hear!” (Luke 8:8b, NIV).
“Let your hearts hold fast to my words” (Proverbs 4:4, NASB).
2. Pray first. Rely on the Holy Spirit.
He is your private tutor!
“But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13, NASB).
“But the Holy Spirit can strengthen our spiritual eyesight, enabling us to see what our natural eyes cannot see, or our ears hear, or our mind comprehend. By the Spirit which searches all things, even the deep things of God, have been revealed precious truths which cannot be described by pen or voice” (Ellen G. White, Sons and Daughters of God, p. 34).
3. Be aware of those things that prevent us from hearing God.
Jesus says, “Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him” (Luke 8:18, NIV)
What are things that may prevent my hearing the Word of God?
To find the answer let’s look to see what Jesus has said in Luke 8:11-15:
- A closed mind – What causes me to close my mind to God? (Fear, doubt, unbelief, pride, bitterness?)
- A superficial mind – Am I really serious about wanting to hear God speak? Or, do I really only care if people think I am a Christian? Do I give up on God as soon as things get a little tough?
- A preoccupied mind – Am I too busy and concerned with other things to concentrate on what God has to say?
- A spiritual mind – We want to be the seed that fell on good soil!
Verses 11, 12: “This is the meaning of the parable [reference to verses 5-8]; the seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved…”
Verse 13: “Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for awhile, but in the time of testing they fall away.”
Verse 14: “The seed that fell among the thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.”
Verse 15: "But the seed on the good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a good crop."
How do I deal with problems that may be preventing me from hearing God?
- Confess and repent of any sin in my life.
- Begin being obedient. As Luke 8:15 points out we need to cultivate hearts prepared to receive God’s Word, and to retain it by meditation and memorizing, and by applying it (being obedient to what God has revealed to you) and allowing the Holy Spirit to bring God’s work to fruition in our life. Keep in mind that no matter how small the act of obedience, God is building your character and transforming your mind.
“If we confess our sin He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Also consider: “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you” (James 1:21).
Object lesson: Say you had a glass of milk, but you wanted a glass of water. Would you add water to the milk or would you pour the milk out and rinse the glass and then fill it with water? We need to get rid of the “moral filth” of our life and fill ourselves more and more with the word of God.
4. Take notes on what you hear.
Keep a spiritual notebook. This will help you organize and retain the blessings of God.
“We must pay careful attention to what we've heard, so that we do not drift away!” (Hebrews 2:1).
5. Act on what you hear!
“Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says!” (James 1:22).
How to READ God’s Word
1. How often should I read God’s word?
[The scriptures] "shall be his constant companion. He must read from it every day of his life so that he will learn to respect the Lord His God by obeying all of His commands” (Deuteronomy 17:19).
2. Suggestions for successful reading:
- Have a plan! Read it systematically. There are many “read the Bible through in a year” plans or devise your own. You want to avoid just reading a text here and there or even a chapter here and there. Get used to reading a whole book of the Bible through, even if it is in more than one sitting so you will get a better understanding of the larger context.
- Bible without notes. In your study Bible you will probably want to make lots of notes, (I do!), but have a Bible to read from that is not filled with notes. When you have notes you are tempted to focus on the same points each time. If you are reading from a Bible without notes you will be more available to new thoughts.
- Read it in different translations and paraphrases.
- Paraphrase – A paraphrase will reflect the translator’s interpretation. It is easy to read and is helpful to get a concept of the overall subject. But a paraphrase is not reliable for a final understanding of what the original text actually said. The paraphrase can be very helpful, though, when checked against a translation for accuracy. It often manages to say things in an easier way for us to understand.
- Translation – A translation is a rendering of scripture from the original language to our own. Original text or the sources as close to the original text as possible are used. A group of scholars work together on a translation and the process is a very long, careful process. One of your handouts will give some guidance on various translations to use.
- Read it aloud, quietly to yourself! This will help your mind to not wander. Reading just (approximately) 15 minutes a day, will allow you to read through the entire Bible in one year!
3. Four questions to ask when reading a chapter of the Bible
- How can I summarize this chapter in three or four sentences?
- Which verse in this chapter stood out as I read through the passage?
- What does this chapter or the verse mean to me?
- How can I apply this chapter or the verse today?
This excerpt is from How to Study the Bible seminar in Leadership Certification Level 1