Have you always wanted to have a lovely, picturesque quiet time and it just hasn’t happened for you? Have you tried to wake up early day after day only to hit snooze one too many times and have to rush out the door without a second to spare? Do you just feel like you don’t have time to squeeze it in your day? Have you tried year after year on January 1 and done really well for the first week or so and then fallen off track and given up? Do you start a “reading plan” only to fall so far behind that catching up doesn’t even seem possiible? Well, all of those things that I just described…that has been me for about the past ten or so years of my life. I have been RIGHT there with you!
One of the best things I did for myself this year was to start and be consistent with having a quiet time. I have tried for YEARS to have a consistent quiet time, and it just never worked. But I didn’t really experiment with it much. This year I made the commitment to read through the Bible in a year and it has been LIFE CHANGING! For one thing, it has made my quiet time consistent and something that I now crave each morning because I have had this goal. I FINALLY started experimenting with my quiet time until I developed a little routine that just starts off my day in the best way!
So here are my tips on how to ACTUALLY start and make quiet times work for you!
- Pick a Plan: Start by picking out a reading plan and just going for it! It doesn’t have to be reading through the Bible in a year (that was just something that I personally wanted to do); it could just be a Psalm a day. Or for January, read a Proverb every day since there are 31 chapters. But I do suggest having a plan for some structure instead of just randomly opening your Bible and starting to read.
- Get the plan on your phone somehow: There are TONS of apps out there that have Bible reading plans- my two favorites are YouVersion and She Reads Truth. I love having my reading plan on my phone because if I go out of town and don’t have my Bible, it is easy to access the actual reading on my phone via the app. Also, it makes finding my daily reading via my reading plan really easy- I just have to grab my phone! Convinience is key in my opinion to making this work and having my reading plan on my phone and the actual reading if I want it are HUGE for me!
- Tell someone that you are doing this, even if they don’t do it with you: I told my husband right off the bat that I wanted to finish this. He has already done it, but I wanted him to check in with me every so often and see how I was coming along. I also shared that I was doing this with a girlfriend, and guess what…she had started the same exact plan that I had! God is SO good! Just share with someone that you have this goal! Even if you don’t have someone actually doing the plan with you, ask someone to just check in on how you’re doing periodically.
- Pick a time of day and TRY IT: I say to TRY the time of day because you might find that you don’t really like it. Instad of giving up on your quiet time, just try a different time of day! My advice is to pick a time of day when you won’t be focused on anything else. If you are a person who needs a quick break in the afternoon right after work before you move on with your evening, try it then. If you love laying in bed reading or watching TV at night to wind down, see if it works for you right before bed. Or if you are a great morning person- teach me your ways…haha- but by all means, do it first thing in the morning! This does take a little bit of trial and error so don’t give up if you miss a few days and decide to go with another time. For me, what has worked best after trial and error is to jump in as soon as I help my husband get out the door for work. By that point, my brain hasn’t really quite kicked in yet so I haven’t started thinking about the zillion things I want to do that day in full spazz mode, but I’m also awake enough to focus on the reading. I drink my coffee during this time because…well coffee. haha. And I just LOVE starting off my day with the Lord now. I am honestly cranky when I don’t do it now! So just start with a time that you think will work for you and if it doesn’t work, change it up until you find the one you like best!
- Put your phone on airplane mode: I can’t tell you how often I grab my phone and send a text or check a notification only to come back to my reading feeling distracted and guilty. Putting my phone on airplane mode until I’m done takes away this temptation. I just pull up my reading on my app before I turn off my notifications. Doing this makes a WORLD of difference for my focus level.
- Look up words, phrases or ideas that you don’t understand: Find a way either online, in book form, or use the notes in your Bible to reference if you don’t understand something. Lack of comprehension of what I was reading is a BIG part of why I would just quit trying before. I would get to an Old Testament Law book, get confused and just slowly quit reading until I didn’t consistently anymore. But, when you have a computer or a commentary nearby, it is SO easy to just quickly look up whatever you’re confused about and get back to reading! Lots of study Bibles have incredible notes as well! My go to tools are my Bible notes, a Bible commentary (this one is my favorite*), and a dictionary (or dictionary.com most of the time…ha!).
- Develop a quiet time routine: This is going to look different the longer you have a quiet time. At first, I would literally just read the assigned passages, highlight what stood out to me, and then write out a prayer. As the year has gone by my routine has become a little more complex. Now I typically say a quick prayer before I start, read the passages while I highlight, take notes, look things up, define words, etc. After that, I normally journal a prayer. Fairly recently, I have started reading a little devotional to just finish out the time. It has literally BOGGLED MY MIND at how often the devotional either correlates exactly with what I have been reading or helps to tie the reading into my life. It’s like God finishing off my time with Him with a perfect little bow. Your routine will change, but developing one you like is key to enjoying your time and growing the desire to have a quiet time every day.
- Pray: However you like to- I highly recommend starting and ending your time with prayer and talking to God throughout your reading. Journal it, say it, think it, get on your knees, stand up, do whatever you need to do to- just talk to God. You will be amazed at how connected you feel when you are praying before, during, and after your quiet time. Prayer is a MUST in your quiet time routine! Writing out a prayer at the end of my time helps me to reflect on it, and I love being able to go back and see how God has answered my prayers, but if you’re not a journaler, then don’t feel like you HAVE to do this. It’s your time- so figure out how you like to prayer and then do it!
- Have a plan for reading when you go out of town: Going out of town/travelling always mess up normal routines. lol. But, having a plan for when you are going to read when you’re gone has saved me from forgetting about my quiet time on many occasions. When I’m flying, I normally do my reading once the plane takes off, especially when I have an early flight. That way, I know when I’m going to do it, and in the morning I can finish packing without feeling like I need to cram it in right then. #lastminutesally When I’m staying with family or friends, normally I switch from the mornings and do my quiet time at night before I go to sleep. I just like doing this more because I’m already in the privacy of my own space for the evening, and I don’t have to worry about running late or coming to grab a cup of coffee and then retreating back to my room in the morning! Point is, just have a plan for when you leave your house/routine and make sure to pack your Bible!
- If you get behind, have a plan for catching up: The best advice I can give is this- don’t try to catch up all at once if you get very far behind. If you are on a plan that is time sensitive to complete (reading through the Bible in a year or a portion of it in an allotted amount of time or something like that), the thing that has helped me the most is to just read two days worth of reading every day until I am caught up. This way I do catch up eventually, but I’m not sitting down for a million hours trying to catch up on what I missed. If you miss one day here and there, I just catch up the next time I open my Bible. Not stressing out so much that you give up is the key here! Just catch up little by little if you’re on a plan OR just get back into the swing of daily reading if you’re not!
- Give yourself grace: you are 99.9% going to miss days. That’s okay. Give yourself grace. Do the best you can while staying fully committed. And know that this is the best investement you could EVER make.
- Pick a verse that you want to remember when reading might be hard/inconvinient: Mine for the year was Isaiah 55:11 which says “It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” James 4:8 is another one I loved and would think of. Think of this verse/say it to yourself when reading is inconvineint or you are confused or it feels like just a check off of your to do list for the day. God is working on your heart! I promise because I felt how He worked on mine this year!
Wherever you are in your quiet time journey right now, I just want to encourage you. You don’t have to have it down perfect within a day or a week or even a year. The point is to just show up. I hope that these tips help you to get started and stay consistent!
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