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Apply Fertilizer Liberally --
by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Suggestions for a Quiet Time
Your spiritual side needs fertilizer to grow its best--a meaningful devotional life, regular Bible reading, meditation and prayer.
Your personal "quiet time" is probably the single most important factor to produce a growing, exciting Christian life. Without it life drags like a broken tail pipe. Without it your relationship with the Lord stagnates.
It'll take planning to establish your quiet time as a life habit, rather than just a sporadic event. Think of your quiet time as a personal appointment with the Lord each day. The time and the place are vital! You wouldn't interrupt an honored guest with other activities, so you plan a this appointment with God at the quietest, most predictable part of your day. For me this is the morning, before my children wake up and reduce the stillness to joyful shouts and distracting arguments. I have to set the alarm to get myself up, but it's well worth the effort.
The lawn food you see at your hardware store contains carefully balanced measures of nitrogen, phosphates, and potash. A formula printed on the bag, 16:8:8 for example, gives the exact proportions. Balance in your devotional life is vital to good growth, too. Here are the important components:
The first ingredient is praise, your "hello" to the Lord. You greet your best friend with a handshake or hug. The warmth of your relationship is usually reflected in the first words that pass between you. Praise is like that--a song, a hymn, maybe a psalm or a short prayer of thanks. Without this, your quiet time gradually narrows to a boring rut. Praise reminds you of the Person you've chosen to spend time with. Praise is your quiet time's appetizer.
The second ingredient is Bible reading. The Scripture is like food. Without it you become emaciated. Flying ace Edward V. Rickenbacker and seven airmen drifted twenty-four days under a searing sun after their plane was forced down in the Pacific--four oranges, a seagull, and two fish their only food. Survival without spiritual nourishment may be possible, but only barely.
Depth, breadth, and growth come from personal encounter with God's Word. Rather than just a devotional thought and a verse or two, you need a healthy portion of God's Word for spiritual well- being. There are many helps available to guide you through Scripture. One simple plan to cover the entire Bible in one year is to read three chapters a day--two from the Old Testament, one from the New.
My grandmother used to get after me about gulping down my meals. I can hear her now: "Chew your food or it'll go down as little balls your stomach can't digest." In the same way, meditating on what you've read keeps you from "Bible indigestion". Reading is to hearing what meditation is to listening carefully. No, you don't have to assume a lotus position and roll your eyes back in order to meditate. Rather you think, ponder, digest what God is saying to you. Then you try to apply the passage to your own life and needs.
Devotional time isn't a ritual but a relationship. You'll find that God talks to you as you meditate on His Word.
Prayer, the third ingredient of a quiet time, is talking to God. You'll have many things to talk over with Him. Your conversation, though, shouldn't center on just your own little world: you, your wife, your child, your dog--you four, no more. As you mature you learn to intercede for the needs of others. You can make a prayer list of those close to you--family, friends, associates, and neighbors--to give your prayer time better direction.
Your quiet time needs to become a habit as regular as brushing your teeth or watching the 6 o'clock news. My friend Tom uses a pair of five pound dumbells twice a day. He's changing from a 97-pound weakling to a young man with impressive biceps. Daily devotions put muscle on your character. The ancient philosopher Evenus observed, "Habit is practice long pursued, that at last becomes the man himself." Your quiet time helps you grow to become all that Christ wants you to be.
Lives like lawns grow best with food. Apply fertilizer liberally.
Copyright © 1985-2014, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastorjoyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.
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