If you’re like me, you need more than just tips and tricks to improve your quiet time (though these have their place). There are a number of articles around full of to do lists for your quiet times, but just doing different things doesn’t necessarily provide a qualitative improvement in your quiet times (or devotions as they are sometimes called). No matter how many times you’re told to read your Bible, it doesn’t make you want to do it. As helpful as they are, you need more than just tips and tricks to improve your quiet times. You need a plan.
Here are six considerations for improving the quality of your quiet time.As helpful as they are, you need more than just tips and tricks to improve your quiet times. You need a plan Click To Tweet
Know your purpose
What does God want of your spiritual life (hint: 1 Thess 4:3)? Isn’t that what you want too? Your purpose should be the same as God’s purpose. This purpose should be what drives you. If this is God’s purpose for your spiritual life and your purpose too, you will be working together to the same end. When you are tempted to give up or skip a day, remind yourself of this purpose and that it is also what the Lord wants from you and that your quiet time is a primary means to this end. Here’s what the Bible says God wants.
Know your strengths and weaknesses
Each of us struggle with different sins, and conversely we have areas of strengths that we hardly have to work on because they come easily. On the one hand we can praise the Lord for the things we are strong in, but we also need to work on our weaknesses. To begin to identify these, ask yourself some questions: What are the three biggest problems you face in your life? What do others appreciate about you? What are your biggest fears? How do you respond to the biggest causes of stress in your life? How do you encourage others? What character traits keep catching you out?
Set some goals
Having figured out your purpose and considered your strengths and weaknesses you can set some goals for how you need to grow in accordance with that purpose. For example, if you are weak in overall Bible knowledge, start by seeking to understand the overall history of the Bible or to master a book or section of the Bible. If your prayer life could do with improvement consider exploring all the prayers in the Bible. Perhaps you struggle with eating? Consider examining every verse in the Bible that talks about eating (or gossip, or fear, or suffering, etc). Set one goal or set several and distribute them throughout your week.
Plan to achieve those goals
This is where it goes from theory to practical. You can understand the first three elements, but if you don’t plan to do it you will be no better off. Firstly, pick a time every day for your quiet time. For many, that time is first thing in the morning. For others it is at night. Plan to use that time, set your alarm, clear your calendar and plan to show up. Planning also includes what you will do in that time. If you plan to understand the overall history of the Bible, for example, how will you do that? You’ll need to get a reading plan and augment it with a good study Bible that can explain the purpose, structure and historical setting of each book of the Bible. Think about how much you can read and plan how long you’ll need to take (1 year? 2 years? 3 months?).
Whenever you put something consistent and daily in your diary, the rest of your day needs to revolve around making sure that one thing happens. When it comes to your quiet time, pick a time and stick to it. Make it consistent and make it interruption-proof. That will mean either organizing another time if that time is unavoidably interrupted, OR making sure it is not interrupted. You can be flexible as to which of these two you select, but there is no third choice if you want to meet those goals. As a rule, it is easier to interruption-proof the time than it is to reschedule.When it comes to your quiet time, pick a time and stick to it. Make it consistent and make it interruption-proof. Click To Tweet
Reflect and reset
It is important to periodically evaluate your goals and progress so you can evaluate the effectiveness of your quiet times. If you have a long term plan (more than 6 months) evaluate your plan and discipline every 2-3 months. This helps you see your progress against the plan and assess how it has impacted your life. This time of reflection is useful if you are working with someone for accountability. You can talk about what has been helpful, what hasn’t and what you might do differently. This is also where those tips and tricks can come in handy.
If you want to improve your quiet times, don’t just do something different. Start by asking why you are doing it in the first place and draw the connections between the why and the how. As you set a course and plan your quiet times, they will improve in significance and satisfaction because you are aligning yourself with what pleases the Lord.