How to Have a Quiet Time Bible Study Workshop
Why to have a quiet time?
A. Jesus’ example (Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16, 6:12, Matthew 14:23, Mark 6:46). Jesus often went off by himself to pray. If anyone ever had reason to skip quiet times it was Jesus. Firstly, He was very busy, and very busy with very IMPORTANT things. It could be said Jesus was the busiest person who ever lived. He had to train 12 uneducated people who were slow learners and prepare them to be world-changers. He had to heal countless people. He had to teach thousands upon thousands. He had to travel back and forth and that mostly by foot. He had to rebuke the religious establishment at that time. And most importantly He had to provide a way of salvation for all the people in the history of the world and die for all sins committed past and present! He was busy doing important things. And He was God. So why although Jesus had so many important things to do and so many people pressing for His time would He spend His time alone in quiet time?
Because it was important, so important, so important even the most important agenda ever didn’t put it in the backseat. Also, although He had lots of time of ministry and teaching in public and with the disciples it was not enough. He needed His own personal time to converse with His Father. We also may be tempted to think that preparing Bible studies, evangelism, going to church, etc. is enough, but it is not. We need to spend personal time alone with God as Jesus did. Also, notice that Jesus went to a “secluded place”. It was sure to be quiet and away from other people. In this way He could ensure that there would be as few distractions as possible to interrupt His time.
It was something that Jesus did often. Jesus is the Son of God and all-righteous, all-knowing, all-powerful. If He felt it was necessary to do this surely it is for us! He is our ultimate example. The most important thing for us, no matter if we are a businessman routinely performing multi-million dollar deals, a pastor teaching thousands, or a doctor looking out for people’s lives, is our own personal relationship with God. Only from a solid foundation can we have true success in other areas.
B. Importance of God’s Word (Acts 20:32, 1 Timothy 3:16-17) God’s Word is extremely important and should be the basis of any devotional time. If someone important speaks we should listen. God revealed Himself to us in His Word. The Bible is vast and deep and no matter how much is spent in it more can be learned and discovered. In the Bible we can know God and His commands to us. We can know how to face problems in this life. We can receive principles for godly living. We can grow up and be strengthened to resist temptation. It is extremely profitable. It equips us to do God’s will. How much time do you spend reading God’s Word?
C. Food source (1 Peter 2:2, Psalms 119:103) Have any of you ever been around a hungry baby? When a baby is hungry it doesn’t care about anything else. You can’t distract it or divert its attention. That should be our attitude towards God’s Word. It is our food. It gives us spiritual energy. It recharges our mind. It enlightens our heart. What is your attitude about having quiet times? Is it something you get excited about and look forward to? Is God’s Word like honey to you? We should get excited about the OPPORTUNITY to spend time learning about the God of the universe. A sports fan enjoys the world cup. An art-lover would enjoy spending time with the Mona Lisa face to face. We should enjoy spending time with our Creator.
D. Protection from false teachings (Acts 17:11, 2 Timothy 2:15) How can you know if what teachers teach is true? How do you know if what I teach is right? What if you go to church and the pastor says for example, “If you sin, the Holy Spirit will leave your heart temporarily for the Holy Spirit cannot dwell in a sinful heart. You must confess before He will dwell in you again.” How can you know if it is right?
We need to look at the Bible to see if statements like this are correct. Scripture is clear that the Holy Spirit seals believers permanently and doesn’t leave when a person sins (Romans 8:9, Ephesians 1:13-14). He is, however, grieved when we sin (Ephesians 4:30).
God’s Word is the final standard. Not what I say or what any other person says. Even what I teach may be wrong. That is another reason to have your own personal devotions, a time when you study the Scriptures deeply so that you will know the truth and therefore know it when a lie is taught.
E. Keeps us close to God/renews our mind (Romans 12:2) – The world is full of temptations. We face many every single day. If we try to battle them on our own or by our own strength we will fail. We need to draw strength from God. We need to be daily reminded of His holiness, His principles, His power, and the victory we can have through Him. Almost invariably, laziness in quiet times leads to many others sins. Once we stop relying on God and coming to Him daily for nourishment and renewal many other sins will start to sneak up on us. Going through many days without a quiet time is like going through many hot, muggy days in without a daily shower. The sweat starts to accumulate only there is nothing to wash it off and refresh us.
Most of us KNOW we should have daily quiet times. Many of us also KNOW many of the basic principles in the Bible. Maybe you feel that you have read through the Bible many times and know the things inside, so don’t need to read it anymore. Do you also think that because you took a shower last week you don’t need to take another one? Yes, maybe we know many of the basic principles, but firstly we need to let God’s Word renew us daily and secondly He will give us new insights and new applications that we never thought of before.
How to have/what is a quiet time?
What are the biblical principles we should consider?)
A. Give of our best – (Exodus 23:19a, Numbers 18:12 Ezekiel 44:30) Is any time better than another to have a quiet time? If so, what? How can we relate these verses to a principle for quiet times?) First fruits, God deserves the best of our time, not the leftovers. Whatever time period we are the most fresh and able to have the richest quiet time we should devote to God. For some it may be morning, for some it may be the night. Time on a bus or subway may be good, but it is surely not the best. When are you the most fresh and able to get the most out of your quiet time?
B. Do it alone/quiet – (Matthew 6:5-6, Isaiah 30:21) Does it matter where we have devotions? What environment is most suitable? Should we have it with others or alone? It is primarily personal and private, not public. We should do it in a quiet place and get rid of “inner noise”. Jesus went off to a secluded place to have His time with God. If at all possible we should do the same. If there is not one convenient we can make one (let others know we are in the middle of it). Where there is a will there is a way. Hugh’s “on the ship” example and John Wesley’s mother’s example. Only a person who has little interest in actually having a quiet time will say, “There isn’t a quiet place.” We should limit distractions such as cell phones, radio, television, etc. and quiet our hearts.
C. Diligence/commitment/discipline – What attitude should we have as we approach quiet times? (Matthew 5:6, Ephesians 5:16) We should make a commitment in this area and then discipline ourselves to stick to it. Becoming righteous is not something that will happen automatically. We need to long for it. Do you long to be righteous? Well, God has already provided the resources. Dig in and use them! He has also given everyone the same amount of time. Maybe we need to sacrifice some of our precious beauty sleep or our favorite TV show or something else. Be assured, there will certainly be things that your flesh would rather do from time to time. Be disciplined and committed.
Ingredients of a Quiet Time
A. Scripture reading – This has already been discussed. We read, study, and examine the Scriptures because they show us God’s character, will, and commands, because it is our spiritual food, and because it will protect us from false teachings. A quiet time is a time to communicate with God. It wouldn’t be proper communication without listening to Him!
B. Prayer – (Psalms 5:3, Colossians 4:2, remember Matt 6:5-6) Communication is two ways. Reading the Bible is not enough. We need to come to God in prayer: confession, thanksgiving, intercession and petition. From the gospels we can see that Jesus’ life is filled with time spent alone with God in prayer. He prayed before He selected the disciples. He prayed before He was crucified. Our deepest time of prayer is spent when we are alone with God. We can voice our most personal and heartfelt concerns. We pray for guidance. We pray for insight into the Scripture as we read. We pray for life change as we seek to apply it.
C. Praise (John 4:23, Psalms 119:164) We study the Bible and worship God because He is worthy of it, because all glory belongs to Him. This is the reason. Therefore our devotional times would be greatly lacking if they didn’t include praise. This should be integrated with every part of our quiet times. As we read Scripture we praise God for His marvelous works and perfect character found within. As we meditate on these attributes we praise God. And we bring this praise to Him in prayer and in song. Do you ever sing to God in your quiet times? You can sing songs you know or make up your own based on what you’ve read. Use the creative mind God has given you to praise Him.
D. Meditation (Joshua 1:8, Psalms 1, Psalms 63:6, Psalms 119: 15,27,48,78,148) Reading the Scripture without meditation is like eating without chewing. We shouldn’t approach devotions as just a time to “get through 2 chapters”. Just reading does little good if we don’t think about it. Little will be understood and less will be remembered. Instead we should approach it by asking questions, thinking what verses mean, what they mean for us, and how we need to change our lives based on them.
Making the time for it
A. URGENT vs. IMPORTANT – I know for most of you what we have talked about today isn’t something new. We know we should have quiet times. We know we should have them daily. We know we should be faithful. We know all of this already. But we all need to be reminded from time to time and need to evaluate if our quiet times are what they should be. One big reason they aren’t is because of the confusion between URGENT and IMPORTANT. What is the difference between urgent and important? Urgent things include stuff like phone calls, emails, interruptions from other people, etc. There are many urgent things in life that beg for our attention. When having quiet times distractions always pop up either outside of us or inside our minds. The world is full of noise and “act now” demands. Important things are not always urgent. That means they don’t need to be done immediately. Therefore they are often pushed back later and later. Important things include stuff like building relationships, serving others, giving of our time and money, and quiet times. Quiet Times are very important, but aren’t always viewed as urgent. We think we can do it later so push it back again and again until finally our day is gone and we are too tired. So what’s the solution? Make sure to get the important things, like quiet time done first. Realize the urgent things sometimes aren’t really that urgent. We can put off the “urgent” things instead of the “important” things. Another solution is
B. Quiet Time Plan Writing – Have everyone spend several minutes writing out their “ideal quiet time plan”. It should include a specific plan, location, start time, end time, how much prayer, how much song, how much memory or writing notes, how much Scripture to read, etc. Anything worth doing is worth doing badly. Having a quiet time is worthy, so it is also worthy to have a goal, even though we may not reach it. If you set your standard high, and aim for the perfect/ideal quiet time you will be a step ahead.
C. Just do it – (Ecclesiastes 11:4). This is a simplistic idea, but generally speaking the Christian life is pretty simple. It’s not that complex. There are several basic things that we need to do well, one of which is quiet times. Like basketball and most other sports, it is about the fundamentals. Just thinking about doing it isn’t going to work. Thinking it’s a good idea isn’t going to work. From what I have read online it takes about 30 days to develop a new habit. Make the commitment to spend the next 30 days doing your ideal plan. If you truly have solid quiet times, it will make a massive difference in your life, guaranteed. God’s Word does not return void. If you know your quiet times haven’t been what they should be, I would like you to later on before the retreat is over pray of prayer of confession to God and then ask Him to strengthen you to have daily solid quiet times with Him.
Practical suggestions – What do you do?
A. Set a time/appointment
B. Make a schedule (chapter a day, Bible in a year, 5 Psalms 1 Proverb, etc.)
C. Keep a journal
D. Make applications (James 1:22-25) – For more on making applications read SMART applications.
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