How to assess your soul in your quiet time

I try to assess my heart when I read the word of God so that I can grow in holiness. I do this imperfectly, and I always find areas to grow. Here are some simple questions that will help you assess the 3 functions of your heart, to help you submit them to God’s authoritative word.

You’ll remember that there are 3 functions of the heart that we need to know in order to improve our quiet times, and you’ll also remember that we are transformed through the mind. We can put those two concepts together in the context of an average quiet time to help us deliberately grow in holiness as a result of our time in the Word each day.

A couple of notes before we start. First, not all of these questions will apply equally to every verse of the Bible, that isn’t the point. These questions will help us expose our hearts and subject them to scripture.[shareable]These questions will help us expose our hearts and subject them to scripture.[/shareable]

Second, these questions are not intended to drive us to despair, but to confront us with the reality of our heart so we can respond rightly to the Lord and His word. We can then confess our sins (1 John 1:9), even the sins of our heart, and ask Him to change us so we conform more to the image of His Son. This is what He wants to do!

Quiet time questions for your mind

The mind includes thinking, reasoning, believing and conviction. Yet, not all our thoughts, reasoning, beliefs and convictions are biblical. So we can analyse these in light of what the scriptures say. Here are some simple questions we can ask ourselves as we read the word of God:

  • Do I think in accordance with what God says is true in this verse? How should this passage affect my thought life? Is there a thought in this verse that I should stop thinking or start thinking more?
  • Do I really believe this? I might say I do, but does it shape my conviction and reasoning?
  • Does my reasoning aim for the same things that this passage values? If now, what is the goal of my reasoning? What is leading my thought life?

Quiet time questions for your affections

The affections include our feelings, emotions, desires and motives. Rightly or wrongly, we do what we want to do and aim for what we desire. The question is whether our desires and affections are shaped by what God wants or by our flesh (Gal 5:17). So here are some questions to help assess your desires and affections.[shareable]The question is whether our desires and affections are shaped by what God wants or by our flesh.[/shareable]

  • What does this passage say about pure (or impure) desires and motives? What desires should I have or not have according to this passage?
  • Does this verse/passage say my affections need to change? If so to what?
  • Do I even desire to change my desire or am I apathetic to what God desires? Ask Him to change our desires and our heart so that they are purified.
  • Are my emotions toward others consistent with the commands, commendations or condemnations in this passage? Did you realize that God commands our emotions? Emotional change can take time and help from the Holy Spirit.
  • Hatred is a desire, albeit a negative one. Do I hate the same things God hates? Specifically idolatry, evil, (my) sin, and deceit? Does this passage tell me about what God hates?

Quiet time questions for your volition

The volition, or our will, commitments and choices are often a consequence of the previous two functions. Yet, the volition can also affect our desires. By doing what is right, because it is right, we can begin to love (desire) what is right and think rightly. So here are some simple questions to ask of our volition during our time in the Word.

  • Is there a clear command here that I disobey? It is helpful to analyse what desires or thoughts we have that lead to disobedience, but regardless of whether we do, disobedience is always wrong and should be confessed as sin.
  • Is there a command to obey? Obedience is always right because God’s commands are righteous.
  • Can I purify my obedience to this command? What do I need to do?
  • Am I committed to what is described as pleasing to the Lord in this passage? Do I give this the priority this passage presents?
  • Do I make decisions to do what is required? Am I deliberate about obedience to this command or avoidance of this sin?

In many cases you can trace your actions to your desires and your desires to your thoughts. As these questions uncover something in one place, follow the trail through the other functions. How does this desire reveal itself – to me and to others? How does this thought shape my desires or my decisions? Why am I committed to this sin – what desires are behind it?[shareable]You can trace your actions to your desires and your desires to your thoughts.[/shareable]

Questioning your heart in this way means that in every quiet time we have to decide whether we will grow in obedience or not. If we decide we will, it will also help us clarify the precise ways we need to change. Prayerfully questioning our hearts will result in steady but certain transformation.

[reminder]How do you assess your heart?[/reminder]

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