Psalms 119:130 The entrance and unfolding of Your words give light; their unfolding gives understanding (discernment and comprehension) to the simple. (AMPC)
Building a relationship with Father God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is the very foundation of our lives. It is why we exist. However, the subject of a regular, effective time with God seems to be a challenging one. The majority of Christians the world over do not spend regular, intentional and committed time studying the Word and in prayer. Often not enough time is the excuse but in many cases it is simply because people do not know how to go about it because no one has ever shown them. This article is here to show you a few ways of going about it that are easy, effective and extremely rewarding. So let’s jump right in.
- Why Spend Time With God?
Number One: not because you have to. You do not haveto but should rather wantto out of love for God. This is a bit of a rock and a hard place because how will you love God if you have not spent time with Him to get to know Him and grow in love for Him? So the start is to realise that He already loves you and wants to spend time with you. (1 John 4:19) He honestly and truly wants to talk to you every single day.
Secondly the Bible contains everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) and the entrance and unfolding of His words give light and their unfolding gives understanding. (Psalms 119:130) Life is a race and we definitely need light to see where we are going. The Word is that light.
Thirdly, spending time with the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit makes our joy full (1 John 1:3-4) and this joy is our strength when we are weak. (Nehemiah 8:10)
There are many, many reasons why but these three really capture the essence of why we spend time with God.
- A Quiet Space and Time
You will firstly need a quiet space where you can be by yourself, uninterrupted and private. A room with a door is best but not essential. (Matthew 6:6) It is so much easier to pour your heart out and speak the truth to the Lord if no one is watching or can hear. It is also easier to sing praises and get loud when you need to.
Schedule a time in your diary, no less than fifteen minutes to start with and stick to it. Options include, getting up earlier, using your lunch hour, getting a lift club to take children to school and using that time. Make the time. Lack of time is not an excuse! Aim for five times a week to start.
- A good Bible translation. We like English Standard Version (ESV), King James Version (KJV), New King James Version (NKJV) or Amplified (AMPC).
- Coloured pens.
- Index cards or post-it notes.
- What Book to Start With?
Start in the books of John or Luke and then go onto the books of Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. This starts with the story of Jesus and who He is and then moves onto real nuggets that can be applied to daily life.
- Step by Step Quiet Time
So you now have your space, your materials and the book of the Bible you are preparing to read.
Step 1: Pray
Father God, thank you for always having time for me. I have decided I want to answer your call and get to know you, Jesus and the Holy Spirit more. As I sit today with You will you please help me to understand what I read and Holy Spirit will you please teach me. (John 14:26) I want to know you more and live my life upright before You. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Step 2: Read
Start to read and aim for a chapter or two a day. Some books are easy to read and you can read several chapters in one sitting while others contain so many nuggets and are so deep only a few verses are possible. Read slowly really focusing on what you are reading. When a scripture jumps out at you then write it boldly on an index card or a post-it note. Stick the index card on the wall or the post-it in your notebook. Makes notes in your notebook as you go along.
Step 3: Personalise the Word
Now take the scripture that stood out and make it your own. Here’s an example.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (NKJV)
Write out the verse in your journal putting your name into the verse.
Grace to you, Rosalind Schlabitz, and peace from God my Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now use the dictionary to look up key words to flesh out the verse and give it depth of meaning. The word grace is defined as a charming quality or characteristic. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines peace as freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions. Now write out the verse again.
Grace (a charming quality or characteristic) to you, Rosalind Schlabitz, and peace (freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions)from God my Father (originator) and the Lord Jesus Christ.
This verse has now taken on a whole new meaning. I am blessed with a charming quality and freedom from oppressive thoughts and emotions. The Word has started to come alive.
Step 4: Memorise
Psalms 119:11 Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You. (NKJV)
Matthew 12:34 For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
A quick and easy way to memorise is to read the scripture aloud five times in a row. Then keep the card or post-it with you and read the scripture aloud five times in a row several times a day. By the end of the day that scripture will be hidden in your heart.
Step 5: Share Your Heart
Pour out your heart to God. Be brutally honest with yourself and with Him. He knows it all already anyway. Do not go into prayer mode and get all strange. Just talk. Be respectful and honouring but be honest.
Step 6: Hear God’s Voice
Now this is the step most people are afraid of but do not be afraid. Be expectant and you will not be disappointed. Once you are done reading, personalising and memorising take a red pen in your hand and put your notebook in front of you. Close your eyes and pray this simple prayer:
Father please speak to me. I am ready and waiting and I know that you will speak to me today. In Jesus Name Amen!
Now write down everything that comes to mind. If you are unsure that what you are hearing really is God write it down anyway and approach your mentor, counsellor or Life Group leader and check it with them. They will be able to support and teach you.
The key is to now daily put into practice what you learn from your study of the Word. It is of no use to study the Word and not do it and apply it. Then you are simply wasting your time and you will be judged more highly than someone who did not know the Word.
22But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
26If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. 27Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. (NKJV)
Step 8: Enjoy the Journey
This is a journey. Do not be discouraged if at first it feels strange and you wonder what you are doing. It takes time to get spiritually fit. As you are faithful God is faithful also and He will never let you down. You will find that you will become more comfortable and confident in His presence and your time with Him will expand and mature and change. Enjoy it!
- Going a Little Deeper
The Word of God is infinitely deep and we will, despite a lifetime of study never fathom even how deep it is, let alone understand it all. God is just so much bigger than we can imagine. This is exciting because it means there is just so much to find in His Word. Here are some steps to studying the Word that you can add to those steps listed above.
NOTE: You will need all the materials listed above as well as a computer with the Olive Tree Bible Study app or eSword app installed.
Step 1: Read
Read the verse or passage in a few different translations making sure to have good ones as mentioned above. The NIV is not a good translation. The Message is a paraphrase only.
Step 2: Research
- Now read about the verse in a Bible commentary such as Matthew Henry’s Complete Bible Commentary.
- If the verse has any little references like numbers or lower case letters in it click on them to find other related verses and notes. Read them all. Make notes of other verses that stand out to you that you want to delve into later.
- Read the verse in a Strong’s Bible noting every single word and the Strong’s definitions given. The English Standard Version has a free Strong’s enabled Bible that you can download within Olive Tree.
Step 3: Write it out
Write out the verse with all the all the additional information you have learned from your research step above also making sure to put your name into the verse as done in the previous method. Read it out aloud.
Extra Reading Materials
If you want to go even deeper and learn how to pray effectively we can highly recommend the following books:
The Battle Plan for Prayer: From Basic Training to Targeted Strategies by Stephen Kendrick and Alex Kendrick
The Power of Simple Prayer: How to Talk with God about Everything by Joyce Meyer