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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

The Practice of a Quiet Time

By Alton Garrison
April 24, 2011

Many people who have been Christians for years have never been given practical instruction for having a quiet time. They have heard Sunday School teachers teach and pastors preach that they need to have daily devotions. But no one has ever told them how to do it. We must teach people a simple procedure they can use in their daily time. The following principles will help you as you establish your habit.

Schedule your quiet time at the same time every day
The best time to have a quiet time is different for different individuals. For some it may be in the evening; for most it will be in the morning. In the morning, you are more likely to be rested, your mind is less cluttered, and it is often the quietest time of day.

Many characters in the Bible rose early to meet with God. Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Hannah, Job, Hezekiah, David, Daniel, Ezekiel and Jesus — all chose to begin the day with prayer. It is logical to begin the day with prayer. Beginning every day with prayer demonstrates that meeting with God is the first priority of your day.

Whenever you choose to establish your time, give the best part of your day to God. Choose a time when you are alert, and schedule the same time each day. Be consistent.

Perhaps you have heard you must spend one to two hours every day in devotions. The Bible is not specific about the length of a quiet time. Do you remember the first time you resolved to pray for a whole hour? If you are like most people, you prayed through your list in five minutes and then began to watch the clock, wondering how you could ever fill an hour. You may have left feeling guilty that you couldn’t concentrate for the whole hour.

Emphasize the quality of your time with God. There is no heavenly reward allocated for length of devotions. You can start with 15 minutes and allow your time to grow as you develop the habit. Resist the impulse to watch the clock and measure your prayer progress. Instead, enjoy the time you spend. As you continue the habit, you will find yourself spending more time each day.

Have your quiet time in the same place every day
Choose a special place where you pray each day. Jesus went to the Mount of Olives often for His prayer time (see Luke 22:39). It was a habit for Him. You need a place where you can be alone, without interruption. For some, their place may be in the backyard. For others, it may be a room at the church or even a closet in their home. Select a place that becomes your special place for fellowship with the Father.

Gather the resources you will need
What do you need for your quiet time? The following is a simple checklist:

• A Bible with a comfortably readable print

• A notebook to write down everything you feel the Lord is speaking to you and to record your prayer list

• A songbook or praise CD. Worship and singing is a wonderful way to spend time with God. Praise and worship music creates a wonderful atmosphere for devotions.

Begin with the right attitude
Three attitudes will make your quiet time effective:

1. Reverence. You cannot rush into God’s presence. Prepare your heart. Psalm 46:10 records God’s instruction: “Be still, and know that I am God” (KJV).

2. Expectancy. Expect God to speak to you each day. The Psalmist prayed, “Open my eyes to see wonderful things in your Word” (Psalm 119:18, The Living Bible).

3. Willingness to obey. God will reveal things to you. You must be willing to obey His directions. Jesus said, “If any of you really determines to do God’s will, then you will certainly know” (John 7:17).

Follow a simple plan
There is no formula that must be followed for your quiet time. However, you will find your time to be more effective if you develop a plan for your time. The following simple, 15-minute plan can serve as an example.

Relax (1 minute). Be still and be quiet. Slow down. Prepare your heart. Prepare to wait on God. Get comfortable and forget the pressures of the day so that you can focus on God for the next 14 minutes.

Read (4 minutes). Read systematically. Begin reading where you left off the day before. Read until you feel God emphasizing something to you. Then stop and think about it. Do not worry about the number of chapters or verses you read each day. Instead, resolve to learn something each day. Reading with a set goal in mind often reduces your comprehension level.

Reflect (4 minutes). Begin to meditate on the Scripture verses you have read. Meditation is the key to discovering how to apply Scripture to your life. Meditation is essentially thought digestion. You take a thought God gives you, put it in your mind, and think on it over and over again. Scriptural meditation is reading a passage in the Bible, then concentrating on it in different ways. Pick out one passage or verse you feel God is trying to teach you and do these five things:

1. Picture it. Visualize the scene in your mind. Imagine yourself in the historical context. What would you have done in the situation? How would you have responded? What emotions would you have experienced if you had been there?

2. Pronounce it. Say the verse aloud, each time emphasizing a different word (see Philippians 4:13). Each emphasis gives you a slightly different impression.

3. Paraphrase it. Rewrite the verse in your own words.

4. Personalize it. Replace the pronouns or people in the verse with your own name.

5. Pray it. Turn the verse into a prayer and pray it back to God.1

Record (2 minutes). Write a personal application statement that is practical, possible and measurable. Ask yourself, What did this verse mean to the original hearers? What is the underlying, timeless principle? Where or how could I practice that principle? Record your thoughts, reflections and responses in a journal. It will become a personal record of your spiritual journey.

Request (4 minutes). Conclude your quiet time by talking to God about what He has shown you and making requests from your prayer list.

This plan is just one example of how you can structure your quiet time. If you intend to spend 30 minutes each day, adjust the times spent in each area accordingly.2

1. Rick Warren, Dynamic Bible Study Methods (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, Scripture Press, 1989), 34-36.
2. Quiet time principles adapted from sermons by Alton Garrison, Mike Goldsmith, Mike Murdock and Rick Warren.


From The 360º Disciple by Alton Garrison, et al. (Springfield, Mo.: Gospel Publishing House, 2009). Excerpted with permission.

ALTON GARRISON is assistant general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

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