In line with my blog yesterday, I am writing some suggestions on enjoying a deeper communication in your quiet time. This blog is NOT meant to be prescriptive. These are suggestions which I have found useful to enhance my time with the Lord. Each one of us is an individual and therefore there can be no formula, one size for all. Each one of us must find our own way, which I am sure you have already. Yet we can always be challenged to move forward. Covid isolation has had one beneficial spin-off in that most of us have more time to do this. So here are my suggestions:
- Find a place where you can be comfortable and uninterrupted. It is useful to use the same place every day. There should be a table to write on and a place to keep your books and bible at hand.
- Collect your gear together. A bible in one or more translations, a comfortably large exercise book to use as a journal. Maybe a hymn book or song sheet. Some of us have all these things digitally available, yet I still find a good old fashioned bible like a comfortable friend. Writing gear and high-lighters. A commentary or reference book which you may feel comfortable with.
- Choose a time. I suggest you decide on meeting at the same time every day. This helps to set this meeting into a pattern which will call you every day, that it will become a habit, a good habit Each person is different. I am an a.m. person so like to meet first thing in the morning with cup of coffee in my hand.
- I start my time by reading some of what I wrote in my journal the previous day or days, to bring me back into the line of conversation I was having, and remember what was important the previous time. This is often where I climb in with my highlighters.
- Taking the next step, aiming to preparing my mind, I try to vary what I do. Sometimes, for instance, I focus on an image of the vs in Psalm 121. “I will lift up my eyes to the hills from whence comes my help” I will visualize God meeting with His people at various times or I may use another visualization like focusing on God’s creation, there are endless options. Sometimes I may sing a hymn or song, or listen to one on my cellphone. The whole purpose of this exercise is to cut out the many voices of the outside world and Satan and the many conversations going on in my own head. Spending time going through a number of reasons to thank and praise the Lord also draws me closer and prepares my attitude.
- Now I try and relax physically. Close my eyes and take some deep breaths. At the same time asking the Lord to help quieten my thoughts. I may repeat a number of times “be still and know that I am God”. I also call on God to help quieten my thoughts. Usually I find myself repeating David’s words from psalm 139 “Search me, O God……….” Using this as a platform to confess whatever separates my from God. I try and continue like this till I am completely calm and quietened in my mind and ready to hear God speaking to me.
- The next step requires the most discipline and patience. While my mind is completely stilled I ask God to speak to me and seek to listen “Speak Lord your servant is listening”. With practice you will then find thoughts coming into your mind which you can pick up, by faith that they are from God. Mostly the thoughts are associated with pieces of scripture which God personalizes. Sometimes I find He uses pictures to explain or make what I am hearing more real
- I then write down what I feel God has been communicating to me. Here I find my thoughts crystalizing into more coherent ideas. Now let me say, though this has become the most exciting adventure to me, if it makes you uncomfortable, I suggest you start by just imagining God as your Father and you sitting snuggled next to Him enjoying His presence and feeling His warmth. I really believe God wants us to draw close to Him and to just enjoy His presence and if in the beginning you are not sure about the communication, you will love the feeling of closeness and love and soon grow into hearing Him make love to you.
- The next step is vital. now comes a time when we can read a passage of scripture, while asking God to go on speaking to you. Several times I have burst out laughing when I have read something which is so completely in line with what I believe He has been saying to me just before. I read through a book in the bible a small piece at a time. First I read the passage through completely, try to understand the gist in he light of the context, then I read through it a second time writing my observations down. Looking for repetitive words and seeking the telos of the passage. To clarify my thoughts I make notes at this stage of what I think is important. Now if you are reading a prepared devotion, you may like to read the scripture which is used first. However it is probably wise to read more than just the one verse which is usually given to get the broader context.
- Having done that, I will read a bit of commentary on the passage or some other explanitory notes to get more of the meaning, especially if there is something I am struggling to understand. Before I do this though I try and ask God to explain a difficult piece. So if you are using a devotion, now is the time to read he rest.
- Having come this far I now write: “What is all this saying to me today?” I then try and distil my thoughts and observations to a few central thoughts which I can take into the day with me.
- At this stage, although you have been in prayerful communion all the time you can go over to further prayer requests for yourself and intercession for others. Here again you may like to make a note of special prayers for specific people or circumstances.
This may all sound very roundabout and complicated, but it actually flows smoothly from one stage to the next and of course would be adapted by each one who tries it to suit their temperament.
Now what I have decided to do, as we move into the New Year is to publish on this blog the scriptures I intend to be reading in the next few days, I invite you, if you want to read parallel to me, to read the same scriptures. It doesn’t have to be the same day, but in the same sequence. If you wish to comment on any one of the passages or have a question, you can either publish it on the blog or put it to me and I will include it in my next blog. I will continue to share as I have been, specific insights with you all, in an effort to encourage you.
So over the next two days I will finish reading 1 Peter and on Thursday I intend to start with Luke.
My readings for the next few days after that will be: 1:1-25; 1:26-45,1:46-56; 1:57 – 80; 2:1-20; 2:21-35; 2:36-52.
Remember again to publish a comment, just click or touch the title of the piece and a place will open for you to comment.