16 September 2019

Here is an extract from the most helpful article I ever read on personal Bible reading and prayer. It was by Phillip Jensen 25+ years ago when he was university chaplain.  – Sandy Grant, Senior Minister

The “quiet time” is a quaint evangelical expression to describe private Bible reading and prayer. The back-bone of evangelical piety lies in regular times alone with God.

Most Christians perceive the need to read their Bible and pray but feel a sense of inadequacy and failure, if not guilt, over their poor performance. To assist people to free themselves from guilt while undertaking meaningful Bible reading and consistent prayer is an enormously valuable ministry.

Motivation

The first key to having a quiet time is motivation. Without the desire to spend time with God in Bible reading and prayer any system will fail. It will fail in us either not spending time with God or in doing so legalistically.

We relate to God through His Word. God has spoken and calls upon us to listen, understand, tremble and obey His Word. His Word is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It has come through the prophets and most clearly in the person of His Son, who is His Word. If we know God through Jesus and if we wish to grow in our knowledge of God then we are to consistently and continually turn our minds to a prayerful understanding of what God has said.

[…] Likewise our prayer is to be without ceasing. It is to dominate our life at every aspect and facet of existence. It is this relationship based upon the Gospel that is the motivation for quiet time.

A Sincere Habit

Two paradoxical elements of [an] established routine of prayer and Bible reading are those of habit and sincerity. Sincerity is the name of the game. We are to read the Bible to hear and understand and obey God. We are not to read the Bible so as to impress ourselves or others or to try and impress God. Ours must not be the form or ritual of daily observance, rather we must aim for sincerity. However, for a programme of daily routine to be established it requires us to move into a habit. Regular exercise or teeth cleaning gains benefit from the cumulative effect of daily habit. Likewise, Bible reading and prayer will be of benefit to us over time. Furthermore, we are more likely to read and pray on any single day if we are in the habit of reading and praying at this time and place on every day. It is of course a very great difficulty to develop a sincere habit! We tend to oscillate between following the habit without any meaning or sincerely never reading the Scriptures. But our aim must be to habitually turn to God in prayerful reading of His Word.

Email Sandy for a copy of the full article.