Over the years of my spiritual journey, God has strongly impressed upon my heart just how critical it is for me to spend time alone with Him. Otherwise, my decisions will be based on my own ideas and feelings, my ministry will be of man and not of God, my plans will be my plans and not God’s plans. And as a result, I’ll only see what I can do in my very limited strength and power – not what God can do in His unlimited power. I began spending time alone with God out of a sense of duty, but today I can honestly say I spend time alone with Him because I desperately desire to experience His presence in my life. I have seen His face and heard His voice in ways I never would if I hadn’t made it a priority to be quiet and still in His presence. Below are some questions people frequently ask about establishing a time with God – I’ve answered as best I could from my own personal experience. — Kathy Dority, Minister of Assimilation and Spritual Care
• God draws us to Himself with loving-kindness (Jeremiah 31:3). He desires to be in intimate relationship and communion with us, and it’s virtually impossible to develop a relationship with Him (or anyone) if you don’t set aside time to spend alone with Him.
• God Himself says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3
• He also says: “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:12-13
• In order to hear God’s voice clearly, we need concentrated time alone in a quiet place with God. In 1 Kings 19:11-12 Elijah heard the voice of God in a gentle whisper. The busyness and noise in our lives often make it impossible to hear the gentle whisper of God.
Pray. Ask God to give you the desire. Having begun my quiet time out of a sense of “duty” more than a desire to be alone with Him, I had to ask God to give me the desire to spend that time with Him and to give me the self-discipline to get up earlier. It was much more enticing to roll over and sleep longer than to get up early and sit down with God. I no longer have my time alone with God out of a sense of duty – I find that I can’t wait to get alone with Him to experience His presence and to hear His voice.
Absolutely! I was sporadic at first, and I took the weekends and vacations off. Now, however, I find that I don’t want to miss a day alone with God, and days off give me an opportunity to take much longer in this time than on work days. The more you experience His presence and hear His voice, the greater your desire for Him.
• Jesus himself took time to be alone with God early in the morning while it was still dark. Mark 1:35
• David obviously spent time with God in the morning. “In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” Psalm 5:3
• God’s mercies or compassions are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23). Over and over I’ve found this to be true. Even when I end a day in a terrible state of mind, I can come before God the next morning and experience His presence in a fresh new way.
• There’s no “rule” about the time of day, but I find that early in the morning is the best time for me. I’m able to start my day out right – getting perspective and encouragement from God for the day. If I don’t make my time with God a priority in the morning, I’m likely to be too busy or tired to carve out time later in the day.
• Learning to “practice the presence of God” all through the day helps me stay tuned in to His voice.
In the early days when my time alone with God was a “duty,” I spent anywhere from 15-30 minutes with Him. Even a few minutes set aside every day will help to form a habit in your life. I discovered the joy of that time and added other disciplines like worship and journaling. The time lengthened, and now I usually take an hour every morning and longer on days off. If you are a parent of young children, be patient and recognize your limitations during this season.
Find a place that is comfortable and gives you a sense of tranquility and peace. I have a favorite chair in my living room where I can look outside and see the beauty of the sunrise in the winter time. In the summer I love to have my quiet time on the back porch where I can hear the birds and feel closer to God through His creation.
• Read God’s word. When I began having a quiet time, I used whatever Bible study I was working on. At some point, however, I realized I was taking a lot of time to learn about God and not much time to just be with Him and hear from Him. So there are times when I just meditate on a passage, asking the Holy Spirit to speak to me through the word.
• Find a devotional book that speaks to you. Many people use a devotional guide at some point in their time with God – I have found Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest to challenge me continuously for years. I’ve also used books by authors such as A.W. Tozer, to enhance my quiet time.
• Pray – talk to God, call on Him, and seek Him with all of your heart. Talk to Him and take time to listen to the Holy Spirit as you read and while you are quiet. Ask Him to speak to you, to show you the truth, and to take you deeper. Intercede on behalf of others. I don’t do well with long prayer lists, and it can be challenging to intercede consistently for the many needs brought to my attention, but if I’m listening, God will put the most important requests into my mind.
• Listen to music – I often listen to praise and worship music while I meditate and worship. Music just seems to usher me into God’s presence, and it’s amazing how often the words of a song seem to be spoken directly from God to me or from me to God. I sometimes write meaningful words from a song I’m listening to in my journal.
• Journal – I wrote very sporadically until I realized how often God would speak to me as I was journaling. I’ve now added this practice to my quiet time most mornings, and I’ve been truly amazed at how God convicts, reveals, enlightens, and speaks to me while journaling. I have had times when I was pouring my heart out to God in writing, and He began to give me a clear picture (some people call that a vision) of what He wanted me to see. I write about special things happening in my life, my feelings at the moment, words to a song that speaks to me, a passage of Scripture from which I’ve gained insight, or words from something I’m reading that spoke to me.
• Go for a walk – on some mornings when I have extra time for exercise, I will pray while walking, and I often find that I don’t get as distracted and I am able to pray through many things and for many people.