“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.”
Personal Quiet Time & Devotional ideas
In the Slow Notes at the end of Chapter 12, I mention that one avenue to meaningful connection with the Lord is through His Word–slowing down enough to take time to read or study, asking the Holy Spirit to speak to us, and engaging with the text.
Adults unaccustomed to slowing down to sit with Scripture have appreciated some ideas and resources. Here is a collection of study and devotional ideas. I hope they serve as a launching point to inspire and encourage us all as we seek something richer and more meaningful with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:
Scribing. I met two young men who are writing out the Bible by hand, word for word, beginning with Genesis. They feel that the act of writing slows them down and brings incredible focus, and they see things in the Scriptures that they never noticed before. They call this practice “scribing.” Susan, an artistic designer and lover of color, tossed out the idea of using colored pencils to add even more to the scribing process–I love that idea!
Less Ambitious Scribing: A friend is doing something similar to scribing, but less ambitious than those guys. She’s writing out Matthew. Same motivation–to slow down, focus, and interact personally with the Lord via the text. She brackets things that stand out to her, to return to and spend time with in meditation and prayer. Others of you said that you wrote out whatever passage stood out to you in your broader reading plan.
Bible Reading Plans.
* Lots of reading plans in one place: Here’s a link Stretch Mark Mama left with lots and lots of links to reading plans collected in one place by Zondervan.
* Read the Bible in 90 Days: This accelerated reading plan was mentioned. I found this website link that I assume is related.
* One-Year Reading Plans. There are a lot of these plans you can download to follow, reading through the Bible in one year using your own Bible, checking off passages as you go. Here’s one I found in a quick search that also offers the option of a three-year plan. And here’s another from Crosswalk that you can use online that just pops up the reading of the day when you go to the link. If you’re fixing breakfast and have your laptop nearby, you can even click on a “Listen” option and have it read to you.
* One-Year Bible. This is a reading plan laid out in book form. It actually divides up and breaks down passages into daily readings that include a passage from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and a Proverb. The sections are dated, so it’s all physically laid out to easily follow–open up to today’s date and read. You can take it with you on errands to read while waiting for basketball or ballet practices to end, which makes it more portable than the online reading plan mentioned above that would rely on Internet access.
* Search the Scriptures is a three-year Bible reading plan with study questions incorporated into it. It takes the reader slowly and meticulously through the entire Bible. The guy who told me about it meets monthly with a friend who is also on track with the same book to discuss what they’re learning.
* Vary translations. Someone told me she reads through the Bible every year using a reading program, but chooses a different translation every time, to get a fresh perspective. Kristen M. mentioned that she has a Bible with two different translations side-by-side.
Psalter/Proverbs reading plan is a simple and basic discipline. If all else fails, if other plans fall apart, I can always fall back on this.
One Book Daily for a Month. Read one book of the Bible every day for a month. If you read the gospel of John or Romans every single day for 30 days, you’re sure to know it intimately–I imagine the original recipients of Paul’s letters pored over them like that, trying to mine them for all their worth. We have even easier access–you have your copy; I have mine. If we can find the time, this could be a powerful undertaking.
Ambitious Memorization. The Belgian Wonder’s grandmother memorized all of James and was working on 1 Peter at the end of her life. A friend of the family in Belgium memorized the entire book of Mark and did a dramatic recitation one time for a special evening that my in-laws said was very powerful. In college, I tried to memorize the Sermon on the Mount. I think I got up to Matthew 5:26 and ran out of steam.
Less Ambitious Memorization. For those who can’t embark on a massive memorization project, go ahead and tackle a few verses at a time. Helping my kids learn their verses for AWANA has beefed up my own repertoire. And then, when I’m out and about and don’t have time to read a lot, I can still repeat one of those verses and meditate upon their truth.
Dividing the Bible into Sections. I couldn’t figure out what to call this method that Prairie Chick explained. Here’s her description.
About a year ago I sectioned my Bible off (with sticky page bookmarks) into 6 blocks (one for each day of the week omitting Sunday):
* The law (Gen-Deu)
* History (Josh-Esther)
* Wisdom (Job-Sol)
* Prophets (Isa-Mal)
* Gospels (Mat-John and Acts)
* Church/Epistles (Romans-Revelation)
[updated–She reads a chunk daily from each section: Monday=Law, Tuesday=History, Wednesday=Wisdom and so on, with one day off.] She said that it has helped her see how everything ties together and has seen connections and links she might have missed otherwise.
Reading in Chunks. Joni found that reading chunks of Scripture at a time was very rewarding. I have also enjoyed reading an entire epistle, for example, in one sitting, and then going back over it in chunks the next few days (this is a less ambitious option than reading the entire thing every day for a month).
Reading Scripture aloud to the kids. Stretch Mark Mama tossed this one into her comment, and I’ve found this to be true in my life, as well–when we’re having a devotional with the kids and reading a passage of Scripture, God speaks to us, as well as the kids.
QT on the Go. Tootie said that she has enjoyed some great prayer time on the go as she runs. She focuses on a person or couple during each running session. Multi-tasking with a spiritual twist! I would add that this could be incorporated into any repetitive-style exercise (stationary bike, treadmill, rowing machine, walking, jogging, etc.) and even in the car. A good friend of mine told me that once a month, she has a long, one-hour commute for her job and commits to praying the entire time.
QT in the Shower. More than one mom knows that sometimes the only quiet times possible are in the shower (or bath), and even those are often, unfortunately, interrupted. One person pointed out that if her time of prayer and meditation gets emotional, there’s water and a towel on hand to dry her tears.
One Verse for the Day. Kristen described several things she has done, but mentioned that her husband prefers to simply meditate on one verse throughout the day. I wanted to include this idea, because it complements the other ones. After reading longs chunks or a devotional or whatever else we might do, taking just one verse from the broader passages allows us to absorb it and contemplate it (and I mean that in the active-thinking, basic sense of the word).
Journaling. Always a great tool for my prayer life. This probably has a thousand variations–perhaps you can offer ideas about how you use journaling in your quiet time?
A-C-T-S as a prayer plan, praying first Adoration, then Confession, then Thanksgiving, and finally Supplication. When I learned that technique, the teacher added L to the acrostic, for Listening, even those “ACTSL” isn’t a memorable word. It sounds a little like “axle,” though, doesn’t it? Sorry. I digress. I’ve used the ACTS(L) method with a journal and also just verbally or silently without pen-to-paper. Here’s a simple explanation from a UK-based ministry.
S-T-A-R-T. Susan recommended another acronym.
S- Scripture (jot down the scripture you read- either word for word or a summary)
T- Thought: What is God saying to you via that scripture?
A- Action: What action will you take in your life based on that scripture/thought?
R- Requests: What requests do you need to make of the Lord in prayer?
T- Thanks: What do you need to thank God for?This leaves out listening, and also the “adore,” but she said this works better for her as a guide to quiet time as a whole.
Ask Questions of a Passage. Here are some questions to pose while reading a passage of Scripture:
* What is the subject of this passage?
* When and where is this taking place?
* What does this teach me about God?
* What does this passage teach me about belonging to and following Jesus?
* Is there a commandment to obey?
* Is there an example to follow (or is it showing an example of how not to live)?
* Is there a promise to claim?
* What is the most meaningful verse in this passage (and why is it most meaningful)?
I recommend writing down your answers in a journal. It’ll be interesting to look back on.
Devotional Books. These can offer a story or insight from someone, Scripture passages, and sometimes prayers. I’ve used old classic books as well as daily subscription types. Our Daily Bread is one that I used in college–it’s still available printed, but also online. My Utmost for His Highest is also available online, along with Streams in the Desert, and Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening, among others. Anna added Daily Light. Joni mentioned Catherine Martin’s devotionals, which I found at Quiet Time Ministries.
Scripture-based Book studies, like Beth Moore’s books or Blackaby’s Experiencing God, or headier stuff like a survey of the Old or New Testament. CBD has a list of Bible studies in various categories. Have you used any in particular that stand out? Katrina mentioned Sandra Glahn’s Coffee Cup series that has the Scripture printed right in the text–a handy feature when chasing down toddlers, she said.
May we all head off to our respective quiet places and spend time listening to the Lord by digging into His Word and pouring out our hearts to Him in prayer.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.