cultivating time with God
In Acts, Paul tells us that it is “in Him, we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). As Christians, the only way we can exist is in a relationship with God. We were created by God and created to be in a relationship with Him. Without Him, we are nothing, but in Him we can experience life more abundantly (John 10:10). That is why it is so critical for us to cultivate and nurture our time with God.
We believe that when we come near to God our lives will be changed! However, many of us find ourselves lost in the busy-ness of life. As a result, time with God often gets shortchanged in our daily lives.
Here are four suggestions to help you cultivate a fruitful and meaningful time with God:
Start With the Proper Attitude
In God’s eyes, why you do something is far more important than what you do. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” It is quite possible to do the right things but with the wrong attitude.
When you come to meet with God, you should have an attitude of: Expectancy – coming before God with anticipation and eagerness; Reverence – allowing your time with God to be focused on Him; and Willingness to Obey – James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
Select a Specific Time
People often ask, “What is the best time of the day to have my quiet time with God?” The best time is when you are at your best! Give God the best part of your day when you are the freshest and most alert. This could be first thing in the morning, it could be your lunch break or it could be after everyone else has gone to bed. It doesn’t matter when it is, simply find that time and be consistent with it. If you miss a day, don’t worry about it if it only happens occasionally. Missing a day does not make you a bad Christian. The key is to take regular time with God.
Another question that people often ask is, “How much time should I spend with God?” If you have never had a consistent quiet time, you may want to start with as little as five minutes and let it grow naturally. Scripture doesn’t give us a number to answer this question, but, if you desire to know God, there is no substitute for time.
Choose a Special Place
Scripture makes it very clear that God can meet us wherever we are, but we also realize that many people have found choosing a special place helpful for their quiet times with God. The best place for your time with God is a place where you can be alone, where it is quiet (so you can listen to God), and where you will not be disturbed or interrupted.
Follow a Simple Plan
Zig Ziggler once said, “If you aim at nothing you hit it every time.” If you long to meet with God having some sort of plan will greatly help you to cultivate and nurture this time with Him. Don’t feel as if you have to follow a plan step by step in the same way all the time, but a plan will aid you, especially as you begin to spend regular time in God’s presence.
Some things you may want to use during your quiet time are: Bible – whatever translation you can understand best, Notebook – for writing down what God shows you, for writing down questions you might have, for writing down praises or prayer requests, and for writing down “other” thoughts that you might have, and Music – music can be helpful for offering praises to God.
If you don’t currently have a plan that you use for your quiet times with God, the following six-point plan can be used for any amount of time you have in God’s presence.
1. Wait on God (Relax). Allow yourself time to calm down so that you can be present with God during your time with Him.
2. Pray briefly (Request). This is not an extended prayer time, but a short opening prayer to ask God to cleanse your heart and guide you into time together. You may find it helpful to pray one of the following verses: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 133:23-24). “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law [God’s Word]” (Psalm 113:18).
3. Read a section of Scripture (Read). This is where your conversation with God begins. He speaks to you through His Word, and you speak with Him in prayer. As you read your Bible …
4. Meditate and Memorize (Reflect and Remember). In order to have the Scriptures speak to you in a meaningful way, you should reflect upon what you have read. It may be helpful to ask yourself: What is happening in this passage? What is God doing here? What is God trying to say to me? Out of your meditation you might also find a verse or two that is particularly meaningful to you that you would like to commit to memory. There is great power in hiding God’s Word in our hearts. If you really want to take memorizing Scripture seriously, see our list of Verses Every Christian Should Know.
5. Write down what God has shown you (Record). When God speaks to you through His Word, record what you have discovered. Writing it down will enable you to remember what God has revealed to you and to check up on your spiritual growth. Recording what God has shown you in Scripture is a wonderful way of applying what you see in the Scripture to your life.
6. Have your time of prayer (Request). After God has spoken to you through His Word, speak to Him in prayer. This is your part of the conversation with God.