Quiet Time. Those of us who grew up in the church had that drilled into us in our youth group days. Yet, how many of us learning how to actually have an effective quiet time? One of the most popular questions that I get asked through social media (especially Instagram) and email, is simply:
How can I get more out of my Quiet Time?
I’ll be honest, that question always trips me up because I don’t believe that there is any right or wrong way to do it. I think that if you come into it with an open heart expecting to hear from God, then he will meet you there.
Today, I thought that I would just kind of give you a rundown of what my daily Quiet Time looks like. Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way to do this; this is just what works for me. I try to stick to the same schedule and do this every morning (and I’m getting better), but life y’all. And summer vacation. Need I say more?
First things first, I always make sure that I have my things together so that when I get ready to sit down and meet with the Lord, it’s all there. Some people I’ve heard talk about using a basket that they keep beside the couch, others have a place on a bookshelf. Wherever works best for YOU. For me, I rotate between two different places in our house: my office table and the kitchen table. When we moved into our house and upgraded our dining table from a four seater to a six seater, my husband and I agreed to put the old table in my office for a writing/study center. It has been a God send. I have all of my things scattered all over it’s surface so that’s generally where I study.
On the days where I have just been in my office for an unfathomable amount of time or I know that I have a long work day ahead of me, I try to mix it up and come to the kitchen table. If I’m planning to meet at the kitchen table, I usually bring my stuff out the night before so I’m not scrambling around. Trust me, in my house, when you get up, if you have any intentions of getting anything done you better be moving. My kids have sensors you see. If mama is up, everyone is up. I have to be super quiet.
What’s in your Quiet Time bundle?
I know that’s not the most original name, but that’s what I’m calling it. My quiet time bundle. Really just the basics: my Bible, the journal that I’m using at the time, highlighters and ink pens. Occasionally a spare roll of washi tape or two will end up in there as well, but otherwise, that’s all. I don’t feel the need to bring anything fancy and God doesn’t care what I bring as long as I bring an open heart and an eagerness to hear from him.
What do you do first?
I can not emphasize this enough. Prayer is one of the most effective tools that have as believers. It’s our direct line to the Lord himself. Use it. I guarantee you that if you’re sitting down to be with the Lord, the devil is gonna throw something at you. So I firstly always pray that God would take away any and all distractions. I usually pray that He would allow my children to continue to sleep until He’s given me what He has for me that particular day. From there, I pray for my family, for protection, for our military & our country, our friends, our Compassion Children & the ministries we sponsor, as well as the prayer requests that come through my site.
I write all of my prayers out by hand. Every single one of them. I am a hair ADD and I get really side tracked with work and blog ideas and things around my house that I need to clean, so if I don’t write it down, I lose my place.
- HINT: I also keep a spare sheet of paper close by so in the event that something pops up and I need to write it down, I can. I sometimes have work/family related things that come up mid-Quiet time and I know that If I don’t write it somewhere, it’s gone for good.
If you’re struggling with prayer, I would recommend checking out the study that I did on the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer. It’s a phenomenal resource. I’ve also got a great resource guide here on my site full of books that I recommend, so you may find something there as well.
After I pray, if I’m doing a specific Bible Study, I dig into that. Right now, I’m doing the WOVEN Study with IF:Equip (fantastic study on making disciples…you should join if you haven’t already!). I do the study, dig into the scripture that the lesson is based around and then answer any questions that may go along with it. In the event that the study doesn’t have any questions, I do a lot of journaling. I typically ask myself three basic questions whenever I’m reading any piece of scripture-bible study or not:
- What does this piece of scripture tell me about God?
- What does this piece of scripture tell me about myself (or what parts of myself do I need to change to apply it)?
- How can I apply it to my life right now?
- How can I use this piece of scripture to show Jesus to someone else today?
This is a similar version of the SOAK (scripture, observation, application, kneeling in prayer) method, but I found that asking these questions is a bit more challenging and forces me to look a bit deeper at myself and find out how that particular scripture relates to God. The whole Bible is about God. Not us, not the disciples, but HIM. I always ensure that that’s what I’m searching for.
How do you mark your Bible?
First, I believe that there is NO reason in the world not to mark up your Bible. We dog-ear books we love and highlight sections of book that we want to remember; the Bible is THE most important book there is, why not fall in love with it and make it your own? I use my Bible as a journal…sort of a spiritual journey that I can recap and walk back through. My goal is to have a Bible that exhibits the story of the life that I have lived and how Jesus carried me through it. One of my absolute favorite things is to see my friend Gretchen sharing pictures of her granddaddy’s bible on her Instagram feed. It’s chock full of notes and scribbles and highlights and markings. It’s a story within a story of his walk with Christ. I want that for my kids when I pass.
I use both pens and highlighters to mark up my bible. One of the best resources for marking in your Bible is the Brighten Up Your Bible Study by Jordan Lee. I can’t emphasize it enough. It’s phenomenal and I love her practice methods and simple techniques.
I generally mark up my Bible by sections. For example, right now with IF: Equip we have been focusing on the Great Commission. My Bible (and I’m pretty sure most everyone’s bible) is broken down with subheadings throughout the text. Rather than using a million different colors for just a few words, I have chosen to particularly focus on these verses [Matthew 28:16-20].
In terms of highlighting, there are a million ways you can do this [just pick a color for each section, highlight each verse separately, only highlight the key points, to name a few] but for me I use this method:
- YELLOW: the main idea. What is this whole passage/section about?
- PURPLE: repeated theme/topic/idea. Is the writer pointing out the same thing as the main idea over and over again?
- PINK: transitions [Woo Hoo English lovers…]. Words & phrase like therefore, and/but then…basically any word or phrase that shifts from one idea to the next.
- GREEN: strong descriptions of events or people (the crucifixion comes to mind…all of the descriptive words used in that horrific section of the gospels); or action words that are important. For instance, “GO” in Matthew 28:19 is a very powerful commanding verb. A direct order from Jesus Christ to his disciples.
- ORANGE: descriptions of people or myself. I use this color to highlight mostly the convictions that I feel God telling me I need to work on. Believe me when I say that the sections in Proverbs about patience are all kinds of orange.
- BLUE: descriptions of God and His power and goodness. I know the whole bible is about God, but there are sections are scripture that are really descriptive of who He is and what his characteristics are. Like John 1:1 for example.
I’ll also draw lines and connections to other verses, take notes of Hebrew word meanings and anything that God specifically teaches me through a verse. If you’re wanting to really dig deep into scripture study, I can’t recommend Jane Johnson’s How to Study Scripture enough. It is a one of a kind gem and she has done SUCH a good job walking you through how to really dig into the word.
Other than, that’s basically all my friends! It’s a very simple approach but it’s working for me. My Quiet Times last anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours (depending on the time and the way my kids cooperate). Don’t feel bad if you only get five minutes in. I use the First 5 App many a morning because I am notoriously running late or over-sleeping (I like sleep, ya’ll). If you show up with an open and earnest heart, God is going to meet you there.
How do you do your Quiet times? I would love to know more about your process! Be sure to grab your FREE Highlighting Key! Feel free to print it out, laminate it, whatever works for you so you can get started breaking down the scriptures!
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