Habits. We all have them. Good and bad. Biting your fingernails or going to the gym. Physically we know the importance of them on both ends of the spectrum. Bad eating habits can lead to disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and much more, but good eating habits can increase energy and productivity and positive health.
So we know the importance of good habits. What about in our spiritual lives? For the next few weeks, I want to write about what I believe are some essential habits in your walk with Christ. These habits are not a formula for a stronger relationship. You can’t dumb down your walk with Christ to a 2+2=4 type equation, but these are tools that can help you know and trust God better as you implement them into your life.
Our starting point for this is Having a QUIET TIME. These words are NOT Biblical words in the sense that we are told to have a quiet time but there are numerous passages that encourage us to get alone with God and be still and know Him.
Charles Stanley said, “A Quiet Time requires giving God your undivided attention for a predetermined amount of time for the purpose of talking to and hearing from Him.”
In his book, My Utmost For His Highest, Oswald Chambers writes, “Get into the HABIT of saying, ‘Speak, Lord,’ and life will become a romance. Every time circumstances press in on you say, ‘Speak, Lord,’ and make time to listen.”
Simply put, a QUIET TIME is a “churchy” term for developing and growing in relationship with God by spending time praying, reading the Bible and listening.
Why is this time so important?
- WE WERE CREATED FOR RELATIONSHIP
No other part of creation was given the privilege of being made in God’s image to have fellowship, dialogue and communication with Him. It is personal for us!
- HAVING A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD MAKES US HEALTHY
You see, it is not just a good idea. It is a necessity. What happens if you go a long period of time physically without food? You get sick. Weak. You’ll eventually die. The same is true with spiritual food. Intake of the Word of God will keep you healthy and strong.
So let me give you 4 simple steps to begin to develop the habit of a Having a QUIET TIME with God…
- CHOOSE A SPECIFIC TIME AND BE THERE!
When is the best time for you to have a daily quiet time? When are you at your best? I want to encourage you to spend time with him IN THE MORNING. If you don’t, then you will be tempted to give Him your leftovers. You won’t be as alert. I know that morning is hard for those who are not a “morning person” but I think it is the best time to commit the rest of your day to God. Hudson Taylor said, “The best time to tune your instrument is before you play the concert, not afterwards.” Whatever time you finally settle on, though, be there. Be consistent. Make it a priority and stick with it. 1 Timothy 4:8 “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”
2. CHOOSE A SPECIAL PLACE AND BE THERE!
Luke 22:39 “Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went AS USUAL to the Mount of Olives.”
Make your “spot” a place where you can have SOLITUDE. You need a place where it can be just you and God. That may take some creativity given your lifestyle. Find a place that is quiet and special to you. It will become more and more special the more time you spend with God there.
3. CHOOSE SOME SIMPLE RESOURCES
BIBLE. Get one that you don’t have trouble reading. Choose a Bible that you can read easily. Personally, during my quiet time, I use a New Living Translation. That is not the version I use when I preach or study for preaching, but it is the one I use when I am alone spending time with God because it is, for me, the easiest to read and comprehend.
DEVOTIONAL. This is not a necessity, but sometimes it helps to have a guide instead of just sitting down flipping to Leviticus and reading. Some of the ones I use are “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers. Charles Swindoll’s “Insight for Living” is good as well. If you have a smartphone or tablet, I suggest getting the YouVersion Bible App. This not only offers tons of versions of the Bible but also has thousands of reading plans.
4. CHOOSE TO KEEP IT SIMPLE
Don’t overcomplicate this time with God. Don’t try to do 1 or 2 hours worth of reading and praying here. You will quickly get frustrated and quit. Strive for 15-30 minutes of uninterrupted conversation. Pray. Read. Pray. Listen. Relax. Be still. Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God…”
Write down what you hear. What did God say through His Word. What are your perceptions from what you read or prayed. Journaling is not for everyone but even just writing a few short thoughts will keep you tuned in and focused.
SO WHY AM I WRITING ABOUT THIS? WHAT IS THE PURPOSE? It gets your attention on God. We tend, as humans, to worship what we place our attention on. Psalm 29:2 “Honor the Lord for the glory of His name. Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness.” We have to give our attention to the One who is worthy of that attention. You get direction from God. Psalm 25:4 “Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.” God is faithful through His Word to show us what He wants us to know. It may not always be what we think we need to know, but it will always be right! You grow to be like Jesus. God’s purpose for our life as believers is to make us like Jesus. (Romans 8:29) When you spend daily time with the Lord – real, personal, relational time – you will begin to take on the qualities of Jesus.
God wants to spend time with you. Will you commit to this habit? Will you give Him a few minutes of every day?