THE IMPORTANCE OF THE QUIET TIME
Each Christian should make it the habit of his life to spend a quiet
time with God at the beginning and the conclusion of each day. Before
he steps out upon the untrodden path of a new day, he should take time
to listen to the voice of His heavenly Father from the Bible and
commune with Him by prayer. The same should be true at the close of the
day, ere he retires for the night.
Through this reading of the Scriptures and prayer the believer
evidences his complete dependence upon God for wisdom, guidance,
blessing and the supply of his temporal needs. From this interview with
God, the Christian emerges spiritually strengthened and prepared to
meet the problems, temptations and testings of the pilgrim pathway
No one can begin the day well, go on well, or end up well, who fails to make provision for this “quiet time” with God.
This period must be deliberately reserved and conscientiously kept for
God. Nothing should be allowed to interfere with it, for nothing can
compensate the Christian for its loss. The Devil, the world and the
flesh will combine in their attempts to crowd it out of the day’s
program, on the plea that “there is no time”; but time must be made and
maintained for it, if one’s character and testimony are to count for
Christ. Just as Shammah, one of David’s mightiest men, gained victory
and renown by defending a piece of ground from the attack of the
Philistines; so let us defend this “quiet time” from all attempts on
the part of the enemy to take it from us (2 Sam. 23:11,12).
The tragedy of thousands of wrecked lives and ruined testimonies, which
we see around, would never have taken place had these Christians put
God first in their lives by honestly observing this “quiet time.” Their
neglect of this resulted in carelessness of life, slackness in the
discharge of their responsibilities, and inability to resist temptation
and sinful desire. Then came the consequent disaster which robbed them
of their joy in the Lord and their usefulness in His service.
We are all naturally weak and need strength; fearful, and need courage;
ignorant, and need wisdom; wayward, and need guidance; sinful, and need
restoration. The “quiet time” is where this strength, courage, wisdom,
guidance and restoration is supplied.
Let us, like the prophet Habakkuk, say: “I will stand upon my watch and
set me upon the fenced place, and will watch to see what He will say
unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved” (Hab. 2:1). May
we, too, put a fence around this “quiet time” and reserve it, at all
costs, for God.
THE PREPARATION FOR THE QUIET TIME
Though we shall speak particularly of the morning quiet time, the same principles will apply to that of the evening.
- Select the best time for it. This will vary with the
circumstances. Be sure to allow time for dressing, for being prompt at
the breakfast table, and for leaving in time to be punctual at school
or business. Remember, in selecting this period, that you are reserving
the most important part of the day for God.
- Get up in time to observe this period. This getting up is not so
easy as it sounds, for it calls for considerable determination and
self-discipline. It is much easier to lie in bed and contemplate
getting up, than to throw off the bedclothes and get up! A devoted
Christian was once asked if he made it a matter of prayer about getting
up for his quiet time. He replied, “I don’t pray about getting up - I
get up!” Rising on time is largely dependent on getting to bed on
time the night before. The Bible put it thus: “It is vain for you to
rise up early, to sit up late” (Ps. 127:2)! Cultivate the proper
hours for retiring. The custom of rising at a particular time each
morning will soon become habitual and will yield rich returns in
spiritual blessing to the believer. An alarm clock is useful if there
is a tendency to oversleep.
- Get washed and dressed promptly. This will thoroughly awaken you,
so that you will not be half-asleep during the quiet time. This is most
important, for one should be his best physically and mentally, lest he
rob God and himself of this period by lack of concentration due to
THE OBSERVANCE OF THE QUIET TIME
Each Christian must determine for himself the amount of time he is to
devote to this “quiet time.” Let us suppose that he chooses fifteen
minutes. It could very well be more, but certainly should not be less
than this. We will therefore take the irreducible minimum of fifteen
minutes as the basis of our suggestions as the best use of this time
for both morning and evening.
This fifteen-minute period should serve a threefold purpose: first, for
the reading of the Scriptures; second, for meditation on what has been
read; and, third, for worship, praise and prayer. It would be well to
devote five minutes to each of these purposes.
Reading of God's Word
The first five minutes should be taken up with the reading of God’s
Word. The average chapter of the Bible can easily be read within this
time. It is best to follow a definite course of reading that will carry
you consecutively through the Bible. A good plan would be to take a
chapter from the New Testament each morning and a chapter from the Old
Testament each evening.
This chapter should be read reverently and deliberately, and not raced
through. Remember, it is the Divinely inspired Word of God, which is
“profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in
righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). It is best to read it audibly but
quietly, so as not to disturb anyone else. This will prove to be a
great aid in concentration and will prevent the mind from wandering
during the reading.
Seeing that by the reading of the Bible God’s voice is heard in the
soul, it would be good to ask God for spiritual enlightenment as you
take the sacred book into your hands. David’s prayer is a good one:
“Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law”
(Ps. 119:18). Thus, in simple dependence upon the Holy Spirit’s
guidance and teaching, the Word of God is carefully read (John
Meditation on What Has Been Read
The second five minutes should be spent in meditation, or in thinking
about what you have read. This meditation is not easy, but it can be
developed by practice. Meditation is to reading what digestion is to
eating. Just as digestion turns what we have eaten into blood, muscle
and bone, to be expressed in energy and growth; so meditation
translates what we have read into spiritual blood, muscle and bone,
that expresses itself in a life lived to the glory of God and enables
us to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus
Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Surely we shall not deny to God’s Word the
thoughtful consideration we give to other books.
As an aid to this meditation, here are a few suggestive questions each
may well ask himself after he has read the portion from the Bible. The
answers to these questions will serve to impress upon our hearts and
memories what we have read so that the Scriptures will thus become an
indispensable part of our lives:
- What persons and places have I read about, and what have I learned about them?
- What, in my own words, is the principal subject of this chapter?
- What, to my mind, is the best verse? Can I repeat it from memory? (This verse should be underlined with a pencil.)
- What example did I see in this chapter that I should follow? What
command or precept did I read that I should obey? Let us never forget
that obedience to the known will of God is essential to true
discipleship (John 7:17; 8:31; 13:17; Luke 6:46; James 1:22-24).
- What warnings were there for me to heed?
- What prayer was there for me to echo?
- What guidance did I receive for my path today?
The answering of these questions will call for real
concentration of thought, but the effort is well worth while, for it
will make the Word of God a living reality to one’s life and result in
the formation and development of a sterling Christian character – truly
an invaluable possession!
Worship, Praise, and Prayer
The third five minutes should be devoted to worship, praise and prayer. Let us think of them in order:
- Worship. This is literally “worth-ship,” or the ascription of
worth to One Who is worthy. It is the heart’s occupation with God
Himself, to the exclusion of all else. It is the overflow of a grateful
heart under the sense of Divine grace and favor. God desires and seeks
the worship of His blood-bought people (John 4:23,24). It is the
highest occupation of the child of God in this life and shall be
his service for eternity (Rev. 4:11; 5:12). We praise God for His
blessings; we pray to God for our needs; but we worship God for all He
has revealed Himself to be in His beloved Son. Thus, with reverence,
awe, amazement and gratitude, the believer is occupied with God.
- Praise. God wants a praising and thankful people. “Whoso offereth
praise glorifieth God” (Ps. 50:23). We are enjoined to “enter into His
gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise” (Ps. 100:4).We
should praise God for the gift of His Son, Who gave Himself for us; for
the Holy Spirit, Who indwells, teaches and guides us; for the holy
Scriptures, God’s full revelation to us; for all the spiritual
blessings that are ours in Christ; for the many temporal mercies He has
bestowed on us in the way of health, food and clothing; and for
answered prayer. Every Christian should cultivate the habit of
thanksgiving and praise. Surely it is a poor thing to be always asking
favors from God and never giving Him a word of praise for all He has
done, is doing and will yet do for those He has saved by His grace
(Phil. 4:6,7; Eph. 5:20; Ps. 69:30,31; 92:1).
- Prayer. By prayer the believer expresses his absolute dependence
on God for the supply of all his needs, and, at the same time, his
supreme confidence that God will hear and answer his requests, if asked
in faith and in accordance with His will (1 John 5:14,15). God
commands, inspires, hears and answers prayer (Heb. 4:14-16; Luke 18:1;
Matt. 6:6-12; Ps. 65:2).
- Prayer for oneself. This involves the frank confessing and
forsaking of all known sin, “if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord
will not hear me” (Ps. 66:18; compare 1 John 1:9). Make known to your
Father in heaven all your needs with the simplicity, directness and
confidence of a child coming to its earthly father. The Lord Jesus
said, “Your heavenly Father knoweth what things ye have need of” (Matt.
6:32). Spread your problems before Him and seek Divine wisdom to solve
them (James 1:5-7). Cast all your care on Him, for it matters to Him
about you (1 Pet. 5:7). Remember, nothing is too small to mention to
Him, for God delights to hear the simple fervent and believing prayers
of His children.
- Supplication for others. We should not be selfish in our prayers
and think only of ourselves, but also remember the needs of others. God
wants us to be intercessors on behalf of others (Eph. 1:15,16; Col.
1:9; 1 Sam. 12:23). We should pray for those in authority over us, that
God will grant them humility of heart and Divine wisdom that shall
enable them to rule us wisely and well (1 Tim. 2:1-4). We should pray
for our family, relatives and friends, particularly for the unsaved
ones, that they may be convicted of sin and led to put their faith in
Christ. We should pray for all who are seeking to preach the gospel,
either in the homeland or the foreign field.
Remember, it is still true that “the effectual fervent prayer of a
righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). Prayer is a mighty force
because it moves the hand of Him Who moves the world. Prayer changes
things; therefore, pray!
As an aid to memory, many Christians keep a prayer list and record the
names of those they desire to remember at the throne of grace.
Surely the Christian reader will agree that this “quiet time” is an
absolute necessity to the child of God, and that fifteen minutes, as a
minimum, is not too long to spend in the presence of God, reading and
meditating in His Word, and communing with Him by prayer.
May it be yours and mine to make and maintain, at all costs, this essential preparation for each day of our Christian life.