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Why and How to Have a “Quiet Time”

How To Have A Daily Quiet Time

A daily quiet time is a private meeting each day between a disciple and the Lord Jesus Christ. It should not be impromptu. We can commune with the Lord on a spur-of-the-moment basis many times each day, but a quiet time is a period of time we set aside in advance for the sole purpose of a personal meeting with our Savior and Lord. A daily quiet time consists of at least three components.

(1) Reading the Bible with the intent not just to study but to meet Christ through the written Word.

(2) Meditating on what we have read so that biblical truth begins to saturate our minds, emotions and wills. “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8).

(3) Praying to (communing with) God: praising, thanking and adoring him as well as confessing our sins, asking him to supply our needs and interceding for others. 

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

Why should we have a daily quiet time? There are at least three reasons:

(1) It pleases the Lord. Even if there were no other consequences, this would be sufficient reason for private daily communion with God. Of all the Old Testament sacrifices there was only one that was daily-the continual burnt offering. What was its purpose? Not to atone for sin but to provide pleasure (a sweet-smelling aroma) to the Lord. The New Testament directs us to continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, “the fruit of lips that confess his name” (Hebrews 13:15). It may astonish us to realize that God is seeking people who will do just that: “They are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks” (John 4:23). One indicator of the depth of our relationship with the Lord is our willingness to spend time alone with him not primarily for what we get out of it but for what it means to him as well.

(2) We receive benefits. The psalmist had this in mind when he wrote, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, 0 God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1-2).

(3) Jesus had a quiet time. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35). If our Lord found it necessary to meet privately with his Father, surely his example gives us a good reason to do likewise. The question is whether we will be mediocre Christians or growing Christians. A major factor in determining the answer is whether or not we develop the discipline of a daily quiet time.

 4 Benefits of a Quiet Time:

(1) Information. We learn about Christ and his truths when we spend time with him and his Word. Before we can obey him we need to know what he commands. Before we can understand what life is all about we need to know what he has taught.

(2) Encouragement. At times we get discouraged. There is no better source for inspiration than the Lord Jesus Christ.

(3) Power. Even when we know what we should be and do we lack the strength to be that kind of person and do those kinds of works. Christ is the source of power, and meeting with him is essential to our receiving it.

(4) Pleasure. Being alone with the person we love is enjoyable, and as we spend time with Christ we experience a joy unavailable anywhere else.

 HOW TO BEGIN A QUIET TIME

 Once you desire to begin a daily quiet time, what can you do to start? – 7 Steps:

(1) Remember the principle of self-discipline: do what you should do when you should, the way you should, where you should and for the correct reasons. In other words, self-discipline is the wise use of your personal resources (such as time and energy).

(2) Set aside time in advance for your quiet time. A daily quiet time should take place each day at the time when you are most alert. For some this will be in the morning, perhaps before breakfast; for others it will be another time of the day or evening. Though it is not a hard and fast rule, the morning is a preferable time since it begins before the rush of thoughts and activities of the day. An orchestra does not tune its instruments after the concert.

How much time should you spend? This will vary from person to person, but a good plan to follow is to start with ten minutes a day and build up to approximately thirty minutes. This regularly scheduled chunk of time can be a major factor in strengthening self-discipline. Here’s a suggestion: pause while reading this and make a decision-now-about when and for how long, beginning tomorrow, you will meet the Lord Jesus Christ for a daily quiet time.

(3) Plan ahead. Go to bed early enough so that you can awaken in a refreshed condition to meet Christ. The battle for the daily quiet time is often lost the night before. Staying up too late hampers our alertness, making us bleary-eyed and numb as we meet the Lord, or else we oversleep and skip the quiet time altogether.

(4) Make your quiet time truly a quiet time. Psalm 46:10 speaks to this: “Be still, and know that I am God.” Turn off your radio or television. Find as quiet a place as possible and make sure your location and position are conducive to alertness. Get out of bed. Sit erect. If you are stretched out in bed or reclining in a chair that is too comfortable you might be lulled into drowsiness.

(5) Pray as you start your time with God. Ask the Holy Spirit to control your investment of time and to guide your praising, confessing, thanking, adoring, interceding, petitioning and meditating, as well as to help you get into the Bible. Open your mind and heart to Scripture.

(6) Keep a notebook/journal handy. Write down ideas you want to remember and questions you can’t answer. Expression deepens impression-and writing is a good mode of expression.

(7) Share your plans and goals with a friend. Tell him or her you are trying to develop the discipline of a daily quiet time. Request his or her prayer that God will enable you to succeed with your objectives.

 COMMON PITFALLS YOU WILL ENCOUNTER

 Following are some common problems that are often encountered along the way:

I know I ought to have a daily quiet time, but I don’t want to.

Solution: Ask the Holy Spirit to plant within you the desire to have a daily quiet time. Nobody else can do this for you. You cannot generate the desire, and no other person can produce it for you.

I don’t feel like having a daily quiet time today.

Solution: Have your quiet time anyway and honestly admit to Christ that you don’t feel like meeting him but that you know he nevertheless is worth the investment of your time. Ask him to improve your feelings and try to figure out why you feel this way. Then work on the factors that produce such failings.

My mind wanders.

Solution: Ask the Holy Spirit to give you strength to set your mind on Christ and his Word. Use your self-discipline to direct your mind so that it wanders less and less. If you are in a quiet place, singing, praying and reading out loud will give a sense of dialogue. Your mind will wander less when you write things down, like making an outline for prayer or study notes while reading the Bible.

I miss too many quiet times.

Solution: Ask the Lord to strengthen your desire and to give you power to discipline your use of time. Share with another Christian friend your desire to have a daily quiet time and allow your friend to hold you accountable for it. Don’t let an overactive conscience or the accusations of the devil play on your guilt. Confess that you have failed to keep your appointment with Jesus, ask his forgiveness and renew your relationship.

My daily quiet time is a drag.

Solution: Pray that the joy of the Lord would be restored to your private meeting with Christ (Psalm 51:12). Put some variety into your approach. Sing a hymn for a change, or try a different form of Bible study.

There are two major reasons it is so difficult to develop the discipline of a daily quiet time.

First is the influence of the flesh. Keep in mind that your old nature is opposed to daily quiet time (and to every other discipline that would please Christ; see Galatians 5:16-17). Pray that the Holy Spirit will enable your new nature to overcome your old nature in this battle.

The second reason is resistance by Satan. The devil opposes your every effort to please Christ. His strategy is to rob you of daily quiet time joy, to complicate your time schedule by keeping you up late at night and making it hard for you to get up in the morning, to make you drowsy during your time with the Lord, to make your mind wander, and otherwise to disrupt your meeting with Christ. Ask the Holy Spirit to restrain the devil.

 DON’T WAIT: DO IT NOW!

Plan now for your daily quiet time tomorrow-and every tomorrow. If you miss a morning, do not quit. Deny the devil the pleasure of defeating you. Ask the Lord to forgive you for missing the meeting and to help you make it next time. You will doubtless miss several times, and it will take repeated beginnings before you succeed in developing this discipline. Indeed, it takes some people months to mature to the point where they develop the habit of a daily quiet time. For some it is a lifelong battle. In any case, don’t quit when you miss. With God’s help determine that you will grow to be a committed disciple who meets Christ regularly in meaningful daily quiet times.

*The article above is adapted from various sources: a pamphlet published in 1973 entitled “Lord of the Universe, Lord of My Life,” published by IVP: Downers Grove, Ill; Richard Foster’s acclaimed book: Celebration of Discipline; Robert Munger’s booklet: My Heart Christ’s Home; and Greg Ogden’s phenomenal workbook: Discipleship Essentials, C3.

 

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The Road Jesus Walked: The Cost and Rewards of Discipleship

A disciple is one who responds in faith and obedience to the gracious call to follow Jesus Christ. Being a disciple is a lifelong process of dying to self while allowing Jesus Christ to come alive in us. – Greg Ogden

“Life is difficult.” That is the way M. Scott Peck begins his very helpful book The Road Less Traveled.’ Most people do not see this truth. Most people believe that life should be easy. The road most traveled is the road of moaning and grumbling about life’s difficulties. The road less traveled is the road of accepting life’s difficulties and meeting them head-on. What Peck says about life in general is even more true about life with Jesus Christ.

Discipleship is difficult. Following Jesus Christ is costly. In his Sermon on the Mount Jesus made it very clear that living with him meant walking a road less traveled. “Enter through the narrow gate,” he said, “for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Jesus promises to give anyone who will follow him abundant life (John 10:10), but he makes it very clear from the beginning that to follow him is difficult and costly. He calls us to follow him on the road less traveled.

JESUS’ TRUE IDENTITY

Mark 8:27-35 may be the hardest of the hard sayings of Jesus. Jesus and his disciples were traveling through the villages around Caesarea Philippi, a city north of the Sea of Galilee. Caesarea Philippi was a pluralistic city, a city of rich and diverse religious and philosophic heritage. Up to this point in his ministry Jesus had done and said things that had stimulated the question “Who is this man?” In Caesarea Philippi Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say I am?” After receiving various answers, Jesus then asked the disciples, “Who do you say I am?” Peter, speaking for the twelve, said, “You are the Christ” (v. 29; Matthew 16:16). Jesus accepted their answer, but he immediately began to fill those terms-Messiah and Son of God-with unexpected meaning. “The Son of Man,” Jesus’ favorite way of referring to himself, “must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again” (v. 31). Jesus knew he must leave Caesarea Philippi and make his way to Jerusalem. And he knew that in Jerusalem he must suffer. And not only suffer but be rejected. And not only be rejected but be killed, crucified. And then be raised.

Peter could not handle Jesus’ words. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:22). Suffering and death did not fit Peter’s concept of the Messiah. The Messiah comes in glory and power. Peter also knew the implication for himself of Jesus’ concept of Messiahship. Just as there would be no resurrection for Jesus without crucifixion, so there would be no resurrection for the disciples without crucifixion. Peter had become the mouthpiece of the tempter, repeating the temptation Jesus had resisted in the wilderness.

JESUS’ DIFFICULT ROAD LESS TRAVELED

From that day Jesus walked and taught the road less traveled, the road that leads to Easter but that goes right through the cross. There are all kinds of forks in the road offering another way, a way around the cross, but each of them eventually ends in a cul-de-sac. There is only one road to life. This road ends on the other side of the empty tomb, and we do not get there except through the cross. Jesus gave this hard saying not only to his disciples but also to the multitudes. William Barclay rightly observed, “No one could ever say that he was induced to follow Jesus by false pretenses. Jesus never tried to bribe men by the offer of an easy way.” Jesus was up-front with any would-be follower: “If anyone would follow me-and I hope you will because I can give life abundantly-this is what you are in for” (see Mark 8:34-35).

Notice he uses the word “if.” That if reflects Jesus’ acknowledging our freedom to choose. A certain rich man heard Jesus’ call to discipleship, and he walked away (Mark 10:17-22). He heard what he was in for and judged it too costly. Mark tells us that Jesus looked at the man and loved him (v. 21), still knowing what his choice would be. But Jesus did not run after him or change the terms of the call. Jesus said, “Estimate the cost” (Luke 14:28). “You call Me Messiah, Christ. You wish to follow Me? If so, you should realize quite clearly where I am going, and understand that by following Me, you will be going there too.” Jesus uses three vivid phrases to describe the road less traveled: deny yourself, take up your cross, and lose your life for my sake.

Deny yourself. This is probably one of the most misunderstood and misapplied commands of our Lord. The word Mark uses in 8:34 means “to resist,” “to reject” or “to refuse,” in short, to say no. The phrase deny yourself is used in a number of important New Testament texts. For example, in Mark 14:71 Jesus had been arrested, and Peter was standing outside the courtroom warming himself by a fire. Peter was confronted three times and accused of having known Jesus. He began to curse and swear, saying, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.” Peter denied that he even knew who Jesus was.

To deny yourself is to say, “I do not know the person.” Denying yourself may involve denying things, but this is not what Jesus is getting at. Neither does it mean denying your self-worth. Denying yourself does not mean denying your feelings.

And although some would say if you are enjoying following Jesus, something must be wrong, in truth it is not about denying yourself happiness. Finally, denying yourself does not mean deny your brains. To deny yourself means to deny your self-lordship. It means saying no to the god who is me, to reject the demands of the god who is me, to refuse to obey the claims of the god who is me. A decisive no-“I do not know Lord Me-I do not bow down to him or her anymore.” Jesus calls us to say no to ourselves so we can say yes to him.

Take up your cross. This phrase has also been misunderstood and misapplied. Many people use it to refer to enduring an illness or disability, a negative experience or bothersome relationship: “This is the cross I must bear.” But Jesus’ words mean much more. “Jesus’ statement must have sounded repugnant to the crowd and the disciples alike.”‘ The phrase would evoke the picture of a criminal forced to carry a cross beam upon which he was to be publicly executed.

A criminal picked up his cross only after receiving the death sentence. When a criminal carried his cross through the streets, for all practical purposes he was a dead man. His life had ended. A man on his way to public crucifixion “was compelled to abandon all earthly hopes and ambitions.” Jesus calls his followers to think of ourselves as already dead, to bury all our earthly hopes and dreams, to bury the plans and agendas we made for ourselves. He will either resurrect our dreams or replace them with dreams and plans of his own.

This is a hard saying, but a liberating saying as well. Human bondage in all its forms is the result of being our own gods. Freedom comes when we lay down the ill-gotten, false crown, when we say no, when we live as though the gods who are us have already died.

Lose your life for my sake. Herein lies the paradox of the road less traveled: we finally find ourselves when we lose ourselves for Jesus’ sake. And how do we lose our lives for him? By investing all that we are and have for him and his gospel. By saying to him, “Here is my home, my checkbook, my talents and gifts, my brain, my heart, my hands, my feet, my mouth. Here-it’s all yours. Use it all to glorify yourself and further your purpose on earth.” This a risky thing to say according to the world’s wisdom. But in the end, when history is completed, what will really matter? Nothing except the kingdom of God. The only investments that pay off in the end are the investments made in the kingdom now. Those who walk the road less traveled, the road of losing everything for Jesus’ sake, end up gaining everything that finally matters. Jim Elliot summarized it well: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

That is why Paul told the Philippians, with great joy, Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ…. I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ…. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11)

 ACCEPTING THE CHALLENGE

What are some of the signs that we have not yet met Jesus’ challenge head-on? The signs abound in churches today and manifest themselves as jealousy-not having what others have. competition-trying to achieve more than the next person; argumentative spirits-needing to have our own way; oversensitivity-becoming resentful when not recognized for our work or wanting it to be noticed that we’ve lost it all for Christ. We believe that we deserve the things we have-the nice homes and new cars. We plan our future without reference to the kingdom of God and spend the resources we have to improve our own kingdom. We use the gifts of God to advance our own name, our own reputation. But “unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24). The road to Easter goes through Good Friday. The road to new life goes through the death of the old. The road to resurrection goes through crucifixion. Jesus calls us to walk that road, the road he walked.

*Some of the readings above were written by Dr. Darrell Johnson – associate professor of pastoral theology, Regent College, Vancouver, B.C. and Dr. Greg Ogden discipleship expert and author of Discipleship Essentials (the article above is adapted from Chapter 2) and Leadership Essentials.

 

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2012 in Discipleship, Suffering

 

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