This quarantine season presents the perfect time for believers to learn how to feed themselves spiritually though a quiet time. The average believer today is often over-dependent on his or her pastor for spiritual nourishment. They depend on one sermon to take them through the week. That is why some believers in Kenya were panicking when the Covid-19 prevented church attendance. They are over-dependent on the man of God instead of being dependent on the God of the man. Imagine having one meal in a week and then waiting seven days for the next. Absurd, right? Yet we do that to our spirit-man? The dangers that emerge are as follows:
1. Weak faith that fails under the slightest of temptation.
2. Being led astray into cults and false teachings because of naivety and biblical illiteracy.
3. Inability to faithfully and lovingly defend the faith according to 1 Peter 3:15, when approached by skeptics and unbelievers.
4. Not seeing oneself as a minister, but imagining that to be a preserve of the pastors, teachers, evangelists and church leaders. Yet these church leaders are not ministers per se, but rather they are equippers of the real ministers, you and I (see Ephesians 4:11-12).
If you’re a new believer, a quiet time is a private meeting with the LORD expressed through worship, personal bible study, prayer and solitude. The goal of the quiet time is to grow your faith, increase your understanding of the scriptures, experience sanctification and know God’s heart deeply.
But how exactly do you have a quiet time? There is no biblical template to getting it done, just like there is no format on how to go on a date with someone you are in love with. However, despite the flexibility in expression, there are fundamental principles to observe:
1. A quiet time must include the worship of our God. The LORD asks us to enter into His presence with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise (Psalm 100:4). You can do this through reading and praying through a Psalm. You can also do it through listening and singing along to a worship song. You could use a hymn book as well. I find the most available and natural tool to use is the book of Psalms.
2. A quiet time must include the studying of the word of God. If we do everything but omit the scriptures, then we are not having a quiet time. The scriptures are the oracles of God. By them and through them the LORD speaks (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Bible is not cake for special occasions but rather, bread for daily use.
3. A quiet time must include prayer. We must engage in communication with the person we are meeting- the LORD (Psalm 17:6).
4. A quiet time must be in solitude. It’s not quiet time if the TV is on, your social media is on standby and you are speaking to your mom. The believer must look for a time when their world is quiet. Give God that time. For me that is between 4:45 and 6:00 am. Jesus had his quiet time in solitude in the morning as well (see Mark 1:35).
The non-fundamental things to have include:
1. A pen and notebook to journal your thoughts. Despite it not being fundamental, I personally reinforce that it is a most wise thing to have during your quiet time. The faintest ink is greater than the strongest memory.
2. A Bible study guide or a commentary. Study guides and commentaries can be helpful, but they deny us the joy and pleasure of finding the treasures ourselves. Proverbs 25:2 says that it is glory of God to conceal a matter and it is the glory of kings to discover it. There is a joy in having the Holy Spirit lead you to a hidden biblical treasure. Chances of honoring that treasure and passing it on to others are very high. However, a Bible study guide or commentary can be useful when we encounter difficult passages that leave us frazzled. Some of these passages could be the visions of Ezekiel or those Old Testament passages that state who begat who that begat whom that begat begat begat! Commentaries and study guides can help us navigate places where our immature faith doesn’t have the strength to deal with meaty passages. My prayer is that our faith grows strong enough to wrestle some of these passages and almost state like Jacob at Pennies, “I’m not leaving until you bless me!”
3. A published Christian book on a subject matter. I categorically state that a quiet time is not catching up on your book reading. It is good to have a separate time to catch up on your reading by your favorite Christian author. Members of the Body of Christ must learn to feed themselves. We often eat a lot of processed food (books by men and women of God) while the LORD is inviting us to eat directly from His table.
So after you spend a few moments in worship, open your Bible. I like to pray this verse before I start reading. Psalm 119:18 “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law” NKJV). Invite the Holy Spirit to teach you as you study, for He is a teacher (John 14:26).
What book should I read? There are 66 canonized books to choose from. They are all inspired by God and useful for sanctifying you (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If doing your quiet time for the first time, I will suggest the book of Mark in the New Testament. Why Mark? It harbours the core message of the Christian faith- the Gospel. Also, it is short and it is easy to read.
How much should I read? A quiet time is not a marathon to complete reading the entire Bible. Don’t compromise quality in the name of quantity. I usually go for a chapter a day. However there are times that the Holy Spirit keeps me on one verse or a few verses for the entire quiet time. It’s okay. But a target for a chapter a day could be a good start. Allow God’s Spirit to guide you on this; do not let your traditions hinder His move (Mark 7:8).
What should I look for as I read? The things of God are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14). That means, unlike the unbeliever who is spiritually dead, you will see and hear from the scriptures what God wants you to see and hear. God’s Spirit will communicate to your regenerate spirit as you study the word. However, you can use this simple guide to help you draw out lessons. The guide is an acronym- SPECK.
S- sin to confess and repent. Is there any sin mentioned in the passage you are reading that the Holy Spirit is convicting you to confess and repent?
P- promise to claim. Is there any promise from the scripture for you? What are the terms and conditions of this promise? Are you qualified for it?
E- example to follow or not to follow. Is there any character mentioned who demonstrates positive character and the fruit of the Spirit? Is there an antithetical character who is not worthy to emulate?
C- command to obey. Is there a specific instruction in the passage you are reading that the LORD is showing you to execute?
K- knowledge to attain. Is there anything new you have learned in the passage you are reading?
I use my notebook and pen to journal the SPECK. Not every Bible passage will contain all the letters in the acronym. Also, SPECK is just a guide. Do not let it limit what the Holy Spirit is showing you as you read. The LORD will often use a quiet time to show you things He is displeased with in your life. He will also use it to encourage you and spur you on. Do not harden your heart as He speaks. I like to memorise a verse that stands out for me. This helps me meditate on my quiet time later in the day.
Finally, pray. Pray over the SPECK. Pray over the lessons that the Holy Spirit highlights. Thank God for giving you the privilege of spending time with Him, for it is indeed a privilege. You can also end with your regular prayer timetable, if you have one. This is my personal regular prayer timetable:
Sunday- pray for my local church and the entire Body of Christ
Monday- pray for the Government
Tuesday- pray for my marriage and my children
Wednesday- pray for my other family members
Thursday- pray for my friends
Friday- pray for my work and vocation
Saturday- pray for myself
I incorporate a fast one day in a week to amplify my quiet time. I also incorporate accountability. I have an alarm clock but my good friend, Dennis, wakes me up anyway. We call each other before 5am every weekday to do our quiet time, despite the alarms. This accountability keeps you motivated because you end up sharing what you learn. It also keeps you disciplined, because you will not always feel inspired.