What constitutes an effective and comprehensive Quiet Time?
In an earlier post, we established the invaluable and pre-eminent place of consistent personal devotion in a Christian’s life. But what do we actually do during Quiet Time? If there was a process, what would it look like? Should one sit down quietly for say 15 minutes, doing absolutely nothing but trying to keep their minds from straying to their To-Do list? Or should it be the time we catch up on all cool gospel music? What exactly does Quiet Time entail?
Today, I would like to propose what I call the 6-R model for Quiet Time. This model describes the sequence of all activities that make for a complete and quality devotion with God – Reverence, Repose, Read, Ruminate, Respond and Request!
It calls for more than coming into God’s presence to only pray for blessings over our day and seek divine intervention for our needs. Or dashing in to read a passage of scripture before rushing off into the day! (I have been found guilty in the second category a number of times! 😆 )
The 6-R model shows that it would be more productive to read AND pray, and not forget to praise as well!
The great thing about this structure is that it can be utilized regardless of the length of time that one has available to spend in devotion – whether 2 hours or 20 minutes. It is also relatively flexible, especially when one feels led by the Holy Spirit to flow in a different direction.
Let’s dive right in to examine each element!
Reverence. Recognize. Worship.
“Enter into His presence with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.” (Psalms 100:4) “When you pray, say, Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name.” (Luke 11:2)
The first and best way to begin Quiet Time is by worshiping and giving thanks to God. “Thank You Father, I worship You, Lord.” Reverence/Recognize is the time to thank God for the peaceful night rest or productive day that we enjoyed. We use this time to praise God and acknowledge who He is to the world and to us personally. It’s the moment when we concentrate on God, His beauty, splendour, grace, faithfulness, and just anything that comes to mind – because He really fills everything and is in everything. Feel free to play your song, sing in a croaking voice, use your hymn book or shed a few tears of appreciation. Just…worship. Nowadays, people play some wonderful worship songs from YouTube or Spotify to kickstart their worship; not a bad idea! Just make sure that you do not get distracted using your device, and you don’t get stuck in this first step enjoying the music. Move on to the next “R”.
Realign. Repose. Zone-in.
“Open my eyes that I may see wondrous things out of Your law.” (Psalms 119:18) “Unite my heart to fear Your name.” (Psalms 86:11)
Realign/Repose is the time that we deliberately and prayerfully align our minds and spirits to commune with God. We ask God to help us quiet our roaming hearts. We confess any sin that may be creating a buffer between us and God. We forgive anyone we may be holding bound in our hearts. We then ask the Holy Spirit (God’s spirit) to teach us from the Bible in His simple but powerful way; not simple to the layman, but definitely in a language that we specifically can understand. This step is crucial. It may be the reason why many Christians complain of not hearing from God while reading the Bible- they probably come in with loud hearts or preset logical reasoning. Repose is also the time to pray, “Lord, my heart is overwhelmed with these problems but I come just to fellowship with You.” And guess what? You will most likely leave your Quiet Time feeling relieved.
Read. Study the Bible.
“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) “And how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (II Tim. 3:15)
At this time, we read a portion of scripture as mindfully as we can, studying the words and looking out for what lessons, promises or insights that can be drawn from the passage. When we were growing up, we were taught to ask questions like, “What can I learn about God’s personality and character from this passage?” “What can I learn about Jesus in these verses?” “What can I start doing differently in my life from what I have read in the Bible?” and so on. These questions help us scratch beyond the surface and open our minds to the truth in God’s word.
When using a devotional guide or a plan that contains commentary from the writer, here is one of the things I was taught as a young Christian that worked so well. “Read commentaries AFTER reading the Bible for yourself.” That way, your study of the Word is with an open mind, void of other interpretations, lessons or reflections; and it is easier to hear what God is saying to you in particular, from that position. After reading and drawing truths from the Bible by yourself, then you proceed to read the writer’s notes. These are often rich, full of information and can supplement what you have already received by yourself. So, we never sideline authors’s commentaries, we merely prioritize hearing God personally and learning to master God’s voice. Needless to say, this is a sure way to develop intimacy with God and to mature spiritually.
Ruminate. Reflect. Meditate.
Most times, the Reflect/Ruminate step takes place concurrently as the Read. Here, we pay close attention to the truths we found as we read the Bible; we ruminate on them, contemplate them until we internalize them. There are 2 ways to internalize what you learn. The first is by JOURNALING. You write them down! This is super important. Your quiet time journal is as important as the journal you write your New Year goals! Whenever I am privileged to visit my parents’ home and I go through my old room, I feel nostalgic with fond memories as I look through my Quiet Time journals from years back. They are a great way of keeping track of your walk with God, the instructions God gave to you, the promises He made you. It feels like peering into the love letters you exchanged with a childhood crush only this time, you stuck with them as your forever-love through the years. Love continua! More recently, I have began to explore options for digital Quiet Time journals that can be saved on the Cloud and won’t be missed or lost for lack of space or location change. I am still searching, but one that works great is the YouVersion app that saves one’s notes, highlights and bookmarks across devices! (I love YouVersion by the way; God bless them for the amazing work they are doing keeping us connected to God!) I mostly still use a traditional hardcopy journal, combining it with the Bible app Notes when using the app.
The second way to internalize Biblical truths is by muttering the words. Subvocalizing them. Especially if you wish to memorize some verse or when your mind is slightly noisy and you want to get it to focus.
“This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night.” (Joshua 1:8)
Respond. Seek Grace.
Here, we go back to God with everything we gathered from the Bible and we pray for grace to practice them. We also pray for the promises to become our reality. This is very important because by human strength, we could never be able to live a life that pleases God. We always need the help of God! As a matter of fact, gaining only a head knowledge of the Bible does not profit much! Heart knowledge and grace are always required. And these we receive by asking for them. The Respond time is also a good time to make declarations of faith. So, if there are some faith-words you have written or memorized about yourself, loved ones or different areas of your life, that would be a good time to get them out and confess.
“This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare.” (1 Timothy 1:18)
Request. Intercede. Make Supplications.
“Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” (Psalms 55:22) “Casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
Wow! Don’t we all love this step! Here, we pray some more. We take all our troubles to Him. We pray for our day or night, our family, employment, projects. This is also a great time to pray for others. Pray for your parents or children, your church, your country, the sick, the needy, those who have confided in you or those for whom you feel burdened. Intercession is a great way to love others even behind their backs. And God who sees you in secret will definitely reward you openly.
In summary, the 6-R model says to praise, pray, read and reflect, pray and pray some more!
Now, you’ve got it! Remember, it is okay to switch things up from time to time. Say, you wake up one morning and feel a burden to first intercede for some loved one before reading your Bible, that is totally fine. Other times, you could finish with praises. You just have to ensure that all the elements of the 6-R model are present, that the Spirit of God is leading and that you are having fun in God’s presence! In another post, I will offer other great tips for a sustainable devotion time with God!