When I was in the field, a Soldier asked me why it was important for Christians to have daily time alone with God (often called quiet time). I handed him my canteen and asked him what was wrong with it. He said it was empty. I explained that in my rush that morning, I failed to fill it. If I found myself in a dire situation, I would have no water to get me through. Worse, if I came across someone in need, I would not have any water to share. We cannot give what we do not have. Likewise, we need to fill up ourselves spiritually every day so that we have what it takes to meet the demands of that day. We can look to Jesus as our model. Despite the demands of his life and ministry, “he would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (Luke 5:16).
Most of us lack a disciplined approach. We need a practical SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) that provides helpful guidelines for spending time alone with God. Here is an SOP that has worked for me and many others.
- Pick your best time of day. For many, this is the morning. But mission and working shifts may mandate a different time. The best time of day is the one that works for you. How long you spend in quiet time can and will vary each day. Try not to rush.
- Find a place where you can have relatively uninterrupted privacy. This can be a challenge, but do the best you can. Make that your consistent quiet time place if possible.
- Have your Bible with you. Decide on a Bible reading plan such as reading through one of the books of the Bible or following a Bible study guide. It is also good to have paper and a pen to record anything special God brings to mind during your time with him. Don’t be afraid to write in your Bible!
- Begin with a short prayer so you can focus on listening for God’s special word to you that day.
- Read the Scripture that you selected for that day. Take your time. Think about what you just read. Ask: what does this Bible passage teach me about who God is? What does it teach me about myself? What does it teach me about my relationships with others?
- Spend quality time in prayer remembering what you just read in the Bible. A great way to approach this is by remembering the word ACTS.
- Adoration. This answers the question “Who is God?”
- Confession. This answers the question “Who am I?”
- Thanksgiving. This answers the question “What has God done?
- Supplication. This answers the question “What would I like God to do?”
Making time to be alone with God is a discipline that brings great rewards. Remember that it is not worth the risk to enter your day with an empty canteen.
CH (COL-ret), USA