How to Have an Effective Quiet Time

"What a beautiful service!" is a comment you often hear
after a fine public worship gathering. But we shouldn't be
solely dependent for our spiritual nourishment on weekly
or bi-weekly services at church. We need "Christian"
vitamins every
It is appalling how many believers don't follow
the advice of the (true) chorus:

    Read your Bible,

    Pray every day,

    And you'll grow, grow, grow!

The object of this
little study is to share some practical pointers on how to
improve the quality and attractiveness of your own personal
devotions--your daily "Quiet Time."

The Persons:

You and your Maker!

The Place:

A quiet place, preferably away from all
electronic sounds, including the telephone. If you can be outside
in a garden, on a hillside, by water, on a mountain--at least
sometimes--grab the opportunity! Remember, God started humanity
outdoors--in a garden. If, like this writer, you enjoy background
music while working, studying, or reading, make this the
exception: God deserves your full attention.

The Time:

Morning is
best. Jesus met His Father "a long while before day
light" (Mark 1:35). A morning "Quiet Time" will
steel you for the stresses of the day. If you cannot possibly
find time in the morning ("I'm not a morning person"),
at least take a few spiritual vitamins, such as reading the day's
devotional in Our Daily Bread from Radio Bible Class of
Rapids. (They're free.)

The Order of Service:

1. A Hymn. Read (or
sing, or play and sing, if you can!) a hymn a day. Go through a
hymnal, song by song. (You may choose to do Christmas and Easter
sections leading up to those days.)

Which hymnal? Use the one
your own church uses to start with, unless it is one that has
mostly songs that can't stand on their words alone (i.e.,
catchy tunes with repeated lines and not much content).

It will
take you a year or two to get through a hymnal.

Next, for
enrichment, buy or borrow one from a different tradition
your own (but not so different as to be apostate or
obviously!). I recommend, for example, the classic British
hymnal, Hymns Ancient and Modern.

Keep in mind, however, that
nearly every hymnal will need your doctrinal
"filtering." Works for salvation can crop up in the
most surprising places!

2. A Devotional Reading. Try a short
devotional reading before you get into the Word itself (one
the Bible, of course!). Some days your regular reading may
in a section of the Bible that isn't immediately
applicable to
your day--a genealogy, perhaps.

I recommend: Our Daily Bread
(Radio Bible Class), Opened Treasures by Frances Ridley
(Loizeaux Bros.), One Day at a Time by William McDonald
Publications, Toronto, Ontario), and Daily Walk (Walk Thru
Bible Ministries, Atlanta, GA).

3. The Word of God. Read your
Bible reverently and prayerfully, expecting to find wisdom for
that very day. The amount you read is not nearly so
important as
the meditative attention you give the text that you do

there a virtue to work on here? A vice to shun? A doctrine that
bears study? An example to follow--or not to follow
(plenty of
rebels and sinners are written up in the OT especially!)?

the Bible before you pray, though a short opening prayer
for guidance is wise. Let God speak first, then you answer
in a simple heart-felt prayer.

4. Prayer. I recommend you keep a
"prayer book"--a little book listing requests and
answers, including notations regarding when you began to pray for
something and when it was answered. This will encourage you to
keep at it. Get a little alphabetized address book that you can
slip in your pocket or purse. Put in your family, friends, yes,
your enemies (if any), those in authority in church and state,
and pressing needs--finances, health, and the salvation of
Have a mix of your own needs and intercessions for
others. You
may find your prayers for others get answered before your own

5. A Commentary. If you have time you can get some help
hard passages which come up in your daily Bible reading. Some one
volume books are good. I recommend: The Bible Knowledge
(Victor Books) and Believer's Bible
MacDonald (Thomas Nelson).* Both these sets have one
volume per

Be part of a marvelous minority: Have truly biblical
devotions every day!

As one who confessedly at one time let
required Bible School studies sometimes "double" as
daily "devotions," let me repeat the chorus with

    Read your Bible,

    Pray every day,

    And you'll grow, grow, grow!