OK. You sit down in a quiet place, Bible in hand – or at least on the table in front of you. You really mean it this time. You are going to begin having regular “Quiet Times”. But then the practical questions come to mind: How do I do this? What am I supposed to do? Is that all there is to it?
Been there, done that. And been there and NOT done that. I didn’t know what to do, so I didn’t do anything.
There are so many different ways to approach personal devotional time that sometimes the whole idea can seem simultaneously appealing and daunting. At other times it can feel stale – and even boring.
If any of this sounds familiar to you, let me suggest a solid and diverse plan that I ran across some time ago. I do not recall where I found it, so I cannot give proper credit. But I have found this plan provides a good foundation and flexibility.
Step One: BIBLE STUDY – Goal: To understand the truth
First: Slowly read a paragraph or chapter 3-4 times. When a thought or phrase or word captures your attention, pause for a moment and thank God for it.
Then: Write down answers to any one of the following sets of questions. Don’t try to do them all (though you may mix questions from different sets).
1. What do these verses teach me about God?
2. What do these verses teach me about myself (or mankind in general or believers)?
3. How do these verses point me to Jesus as Savior?
4. List examples to follow or avoid, commands to obey, or promises to claim
1. Write down the key verse or thought that impressed you.
2. Write the verse out in your own words.
3. Make sure you look at the context. What is the thought just before the verse and just after?
4. Give 2-3 reasons it impressed you.
1. What was beautiful about this verse?
2. What surprised you about this verse?
3. To what in this verse do you need to give more thought?
4. What didn’t you understand?
5. How does the verse connect to your life and/or the life of your church?
Step Two: MEDITATION – Goal: To drive the truth down into your heart
First: Write out one or two (at most!) of the main truths you got out of your Bible study.
Then: For each truth, write out the answers to each of these questions:
- If you have little time, just answer the following:
1. “How would I be different if this truth caught fire in my inner most being?”
2. “Why is God showing me these particular things today?”
- If you have more time:
- Adoration: How can I praise God or Christ for what this reveals about him? (Think of at least 2 or 3)
- Confession: What wrong behavior, harmful emotions, false attitudes result in me when I forget he is like this? (Think of at least 2 or 3)
- Thanksgiving: Thank God that you are saved by grace through Jesus, not by your performance. How can this grace in Christ help you overcome the sins you just confessed?
- Supplication: What do I need to become and do in light of this truth? Ask him for it!
Step Three: PRAYER – Goal: To commune with God and ask Him to work out His purposes in the world and in your life.
First: Pray especially for the things that came out of your meditation.
- Pray through a prayer list of things to ask God for regularly.
- Praise and thank him for the things you saw today.
- Confess sins that were brought to your attention today.
- New items for supplication you saw today (add some to your prayer list).
- Pray for former items on your prayer list: for family, for church, for friends, for world, for self.
Suggested passages to start:
- Psalm 1
- Psalm 4
- Psalm 8
- Psalm 19
- Psalm 62:1-2, 5-7
- Psalm 103
- Psalm 106 (particularly verses 28-31
Please Note that while this is a good pattern for personal devotions, it is simply a suggestion. By no means is this the RIGHT plan. If you have something that works for you, keep at it. I post this simply because I know there are many who get stuck right out of the gate, not knowing what to do.
For a .pdf of this plan, click: Basic Quiet Time Plan