There are times for all of us when our quiet times seem to become laborious. For some reason the joy is gone and opening our Bible every day becomes plain hard work. Distractions seem so interesting, don’t they? Before we know it, our time is up and we need to move on to the next part of our day. We’ve seen why it is important to set goals for our quiet times, but there are two types of goals that will unlock your growth and make your quiet time transformative.
You may have noticed that we considered both broad questions to ask of our heart and more specific questions to pinpoint sin to overcome. Essentially, these two sets of questions infer two different purposes for our quiet times. Both of these are necessary for our sanctification, but in different ways and at different times.
Everybody needs a general growth goal. When you consider the type of activities you do in your quiet time, you’ll probably recognize that they have been best suited to this kind of goal. A growth goal is a goal that focuses on your knowledge of God, His plans, purposes and how these relate to you. Paul prayed for the Colossians that they would be “filled with the knowledge of His will” (Col 1:9). Let’s unpack this.Everyone needs a general growth goal… that focuses on your knowledge of God, His plans, purposes and how these relate to you Click To Tweet
To know the will of God, we need to know the God who wills. Knowing God is central to living the Christian life, and God has given us His word so that we can know Him. In His word, we find what God says about Himself, how He describes Himself, what He loves, what He hates and why. We see His interaction with mankind throughout history and can understand the patterns and expressions He gives to His thoughts and desires. We recognize His power and purity and why rebellion is so wicked, and why His grace is so amazing.
We also need to know God’s plans. We need to see why He created man, how He has interacted with man throughout the different stages of history and how and why He has revealed Himself through that time. We also need hope, which comes from knowing God’s future plans, why God’s timetable is not our timetable and what we should expect in the short and long term.
God’s character and plans are bound up in His purpose at an individual level. The world is not running on autopilot, He is bringing about His plans in His time. If we don’t know God’s purposes, we will grow impatient with Him and the circumstances we live in. God’s purposes are much bigger than just you and I and our short lifespan. God is focused on the overall direction He has set for the entire universe, and our lives fit in some small way into this larger plan. Understanding this allows us to recognize that our ways are not His ways (Isa 55:8-9). When we see the larger purpose, our specific part in it and God’s will for us becomes clearer, and we can see how things like personal holiness contribute to His purpose and plans, providing us with “spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col 1:9).God is focused on the overall direction He has set for the entire universe, and our lives fit into this larger plan Click To Tweet
We cannot know all the details of how our life fits into God’s overall plan. Yet, we can understand that it does, and the lives of every believer will ultimately work out to our good and to His glory because of His mercy and grace. If we know God’s character, we can believe that when bad things happen to us, it isn’t because God is not loving or kind, there is a different reason. We can recognize that it is according to His plan, and we can recognize that whatever the purpose, one day we will be able to rejoice in it.
The other sort of goals we can set are what I’ve called heart goals. These are goals that are very specific to us as individuals and are related to the personality the Lord created us with and the specific way our flesh has been corrupted by sin. Heart goals are really the kind that we’ve spent so much time thinking about. They answer the question, what areas and what sins do I need to overcome.
To find these, use the 30 questions to expose your heart and find areas to work on. Once you’ve identified an area you need to grow in, you can work through the 3 steps of repentance to overcome sin and grow in holiness. I recommend having just one heart goal at a time, though you can line them up and work on them in a series.
Set both types of goal
Initially, I encourage you to set both types of goal. Select a heart goal in conjunction with the feedback of others and the circumstances of your life, and set a growth goal to get to know the Lord and His purposes for you. This will mean that you end up with two very different types of quiet time, but you can do this deliberately and without the two compromising each other.Select a heart goal in conjunction with the feedback of others and the circumstances of your life. Click To Tweet
There are two main ways of working with these two types of goals together. You can either combine both goals into a single quiet time each day, or you can separate them so that you work on just a heart goal or just a growth goal.
Though you can work on a heart goal every day for a period of time, this is often not necessary, and you’ll find it more effective to work on a heart goal just three or four days a week and a growth goal the other days. Alternating days is ideal since this will give you time to assimilate what you learn from the day you focus on a heart goal while augmenting it with what you learn on the day your quiet time is focused on your growth goal. Often you’ll be surprised at how what you read for your growth goal influences how you think about your heart goal!
Once you’ve worked through one or two heart goals, and resolve one or more areas of sin in your life, you can begin to combine your goals. In this case, you focus primarily on growth goals, but what you’ve learned about yourself and your sin easily becomes a major influence in the way you read and respond to passages in scripture.Set a growth goal to get to know the Lord and His purposes for you Click To Tweet
For me, having worked through anger and lust, God’s reaction to these in others and the destruction they cause often cause me to pause and reflect, examining my heart and responding to the Lord and His word in prayer.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that new areas that need attention don’t turn up. On the contrary, if you’ve allowed the word of God and the Spirit of God to do their work in your heart by removing sin from your life, you’ll be increasingly sensitive to areas that you need to work on. As you find things to work on, go back over the 3 steps of repentance and make a plan to overcome that sin by addressing the 3 functions of the heart for each of the three steps (put sin to death, renew your mind and put on the new man).
Transformative quiet times
As you set goals for your quiet time, and you begin to achieve them, starting with the most important goals – the one’s the Lord is most interested in, your quiet times will be transformed from distraction, difficulty and even drudgery to vibrant times that you look forward to, because you are growing in your knowledge of and love for the Lord.