The first step in the process of having a deep – as opposed to a superficial – quiet time begins with a prayer to prepare your heart. This can begin as soon as you wake up, and continue through all your preparations to begin your day (Nehemiah prayed in the midst of doing things, and you can too).
In this moment, you are becoming aware of your thoughts, emotions, and what lies ahead. This is when we acknowledge our anxiety, guilt, and burdens. It is also a time when we remind ourselves of our goals, vision, and the tasks we need to complete in our journey towards these dreams.
Scripture Sets My Mind:
Select a scripture to set your mind for the day. This can be read before or after your prayer to prepare your heart. The best time to select this scripture is the day or night before your next quiet time. You can use the same one for 3-5 days, but if you continue past this amount of time, then it might become a heartless ritual rather than an inspirational focus.
Questions Focus My Reading:
Before you begin your reading for the day you should have a question or two in mind. These questions will focus your mind to receive a clear message from the Scriptures. Here are a few questions to be asked:
Who does God want me to become?
What does God want me to change?
When am I supposed to take action?
Where is God trying to lead me? How do I know God is with me?
Why is my life not turning out the way I had hoped?
Whatever question you choose should help you focus in on words and phrases that will help you learn more about God. Be careful not to read the Bible as a leadership manual, academic source, or ritualistic sacrament but rather as a transformative experience of listening to God and learning more about him, so you can build a better relationship with him.
Read, Annotate, Note:
One of the most important things to do when reading is make the experience conversational. You are listening to the Scriptures, but you should interact and respond. As you read, underline, and make a conversational note next to the text. For instance you might underline a word like “diligence,” then next to it you would write “God I need to finish my paper on the leadership evolution of Alexander Hamilton.” The key to “Deep Reading” is to participate interactively with God’s word, so you respond by receiving reminders and embracing the confidence he gives you. This is what it means to truly walk with God. Spirituality is practical, powerful, and fun.
Probe, Examine, Reflect:
This can be done stationary or on the move. Probe your heart for what stuck with you in your prayer and reading. Examine what you find and narrow your list of striking insights to the most important. Take this one most important insight from the morning and reflect on it. Your goal is to find application. Does this reveal a path you should take? Does this expose a sin you need to repent of in order to draw closer to God or a particular person? Is there something you have been holding on to that you need to let go of so you can move on with your life?
Prayer, Faith, Power:
Once you have a focus from reflecting, you can finish your prayer to gain confidence. This may be confidence to change something, decide to do something, or rest and celebrate a mission accomplished. When you get done your faith should be strong, which means you believe God and his power is with you to take on whatever you need to do on this particular day.
Write down one word or sentence to describe your focus for today.
Select 1-3 people you are going to share your word or sentence with, and be prepared to elaborate on this with whomever you speak. Transparency about your thoughts, feelings, and life will not only help you, but your friends as well. In fact, the sharing component of your quiet time will give you increased depth of understanding, because friends who know you will strengthen your faith to do what you have in mind, or correct your direction so you get exactly where God is leading you.
Now that you have walked with God, and had confirmation of what you have learned from close friends, it is time to make a decision. What will you be working on spiritually for this week, month, or year? Write down your focus and goals in this place. Don’t be afraid to write one sentence each day, until you are able to put together 3-5 steps on your path toward your ultimate destiny.
Now it is time for you to act, which means you have to obey your vision, and do things throughout the day to hold to the decision you made this morning.
At this point, you are probably asking yourself when you will have the time to have a quiet time like this one. Remember that we make time for what we think is important. Be creative. Break up the components of this quiet time into morning, noon, and night if you like, or carve out a good hour to get it all done. One thing I can guarantee is if you will invest the time in walking with God, the benefits will be beyond your imagination.