Ref: Deeper Life Ministry, Search The Scripture, Volume 75, Lesson 973
TEXT: Genesis 19:27-29; 28:18-22; Exodus 34:2-10
MEMORY VERSE: “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1:35).
As soon as a child is born into the world, his need of breath becomes evident. Shortly afterwards, he cries, expressing a desire for water and, later, food. His need of love is taken care of by the welcome attitude of the mother, father and other members of the family. The same goes for the newly saved believer who, on receiving the initial assurance of salvation, discovers his need for developing a regular “observance” of a time of prayer and reading the word of God for growth and personal spiritual upkeep (1 Peter 2:2). Also, the need to observe such a time with other members of the family becomes apparent. He later learns that such times of personal study of the word of God and prayer are referred to, by believers, as quiet time.
The issue of quiet time must be taken seriously by individual Christians and families who want to maintain a victorious Christian life in this wicked world and function effectively in their service for God.
- THE PRIORITY OF QUIET TIME
Genesis 19:27; 28:18-22; Exodus 34:2; Jeremiah 33:3.
The need for individual Christians to practise quiet time and family devotion cannot be overemphasised. Two reasons stand out, among many. First, God wants us to be in fellowship with Him. As a loving Father, He wants to have communion with His children daily to reveal more of Himself to them and direct their path. Sin made humanity to lose this privilege but Christ came to restore it (John 14:6). God calls us to meet with Him every day. We should, in gratitude, respond positively and not be like the children of Israel of whom He said, “I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye hearkened not unto me” (Jeremiah 35:14).
Second, regular study of God’s word and communion with Him in prayer enhance rapid Christian growth (1 Peter 2:2). A Christian cannot grow spiritually without spiritual food just as he cannot grow physically without physical food. Like a garden of flowers, God’s friendship needs careful cultivation and this demands consistency. We must maintain a continuous link with God through personal devotional prayer.
- THE PLACE AND TIME OF QUIET TIME
Exodus 16:21; Psalms 55:17; 88:13; Mark 1:35; Matthew 6:6
A thorough study of the Scriptures shows that the best times are early in the morning and late in the evening before going to bed. This means we should observe our fellowship with the Lord daily. In Exodus 16:21, manna was gathered morning by morning and our ‘manna’ today is “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). The Levites (Old Testament type of New Testament believers) offered a daily sacrifice. David performed his vows and cried unto God daily (Psalm 86:3). Paul prayed and was renewed in the inner man (obviously by meditative study of the Word) daily (2 Timothy 1:3; 2 Corinthians 4:16); so did the Berean Christians of his time (Acts 17:10,11). The examples of our Lord Jesus Christ, David and Daniel (Mark 1:35; Psalm 55:17; Daniel 6:10) together with that of numerous Christians down the ages teach us the necessity of starting the day with God because the mind is always fresh in the morning. Rising early helps immeasurably in getting the best from the study of God’s word and prayer Genesis 28:18; Exodus 29:39,42; 30:7; Psalm 5:3; 59:16; 63:1. Also, to have the best from this gracious exercise, one needs a place that is free from distraction, characterised by seclusion and quietness. We get all these from our present places of abode by rising early to read and meditate on the word of God. Though His disciples were with Him, our Lord Jesus Christ still found time to be alone to pray (Luke 9:18). We can shut off the distraction of people, events and things to concentrate on prayer and study of God’s word.
- PROMINENCE OF THE WORD DURING DEVOTION
Luke 4:4; Job 23:12; Colossians 3:16; Proverbs 13:13
In order to benefit maximally from personal Bible study, we need to know the purpose and focus of the Holy Writ. Though a revelation of God, and containing more information about our past, present and future than any other book, its design is to show us the salvation of God obtainable through Christ Jesus (Psalm 27:1a; John 20:31; 2 Timothy 3:15; Acts 20:32). The Bible has a purpose of guiding us into the experience of salvation and spiritual maturity. Since this salvation is exclusively through Christ, the focus of the entire Bible is centred on the Saviour (John 5:39,46; Luke 24:25-27,44). Christ is made and kept real to us as we study the Word “day by day”. For times of meditative study of the divine book, our prayer is captured in the song:
Break thou the bread of life Dear Lord to me, As Thou didst break the loaves Beside the sea Beyond the sacred page I need Thee Lord; My spirit pants for Thee, O Living Word.
To understand God’s revelation in the Scriptures, we must come with open minds, surrendered wills, and faith to believe. It is wisdom for the ignorant to acknowledge his situation before God and only such will be made wiser (Luke 10:21). Individuals who are wise “in their own conceits” languish in continued blindness and spiritual impoverishment (John 9:41). Then, we must approach God’s word with a willingness to comply with whatever He asks us to do. We must, like Christ, be willing to say, “Not my will but thine be done” and in this prove our love for Him (John 14:21). Those parts we cannot comprehend with the intellect, we must, with faith, believe. We must deliberately choose to believe the Word as we read it, accounting that God is faithful to all His promises. We must commence the walk of faith (and grow in the same) by hearing (and reading) the word of God (Romans 10:17).
We should constantly study the Bible with the aim of having our lives transformed into the likeness of Christ (John 8:31; 2 Corinthians 3:18). We should be primarily preoccupied with what God has to say to us. Helpful questions while studying the Bible should include: what does the passage say? What does it mean? And how does it apply to me? We should not seek far-fetched interpretations for simple, easily comprehensible passages. We should be careful not to constantly search the Scriptures during our quiet time for sermons to preach to others, but for personal application. We must seek out from study passages, examples to follow, commands to obey, errors to avoid, imperfections to forsake and promises to claim.
Other aids to fruitful study include the use of helpful books such as balanced commentaries, Bible atlas and concordance. It also helps to keep records of lessons in notebooks and memorise Scriptures regularly. Character, books and topical studies have their places and advantages but in all, we must seek to have God speak to us as individuals.
- PRIMACY OF PRAYER DURING DEVOTION
Daniel 6:10; Psalm 55:17; Matthew 14:23; Mark 6:46; Luke 6:12
Prayer is complementary to Bible study in the practice of quiet time. For our Bible study to be meaningful and effective, our prayer should be conditioned and moulded by God’s self-revelation in the Bible. He has taken the first step in reconciling us to Himself. We need to reciprocate this love of God (1 John 4:19).
Approaching the throne of the King of kings is a privilege specially reserved for God’s children by virtue of Christ’s death on the Cross. God’s manifold blessings upon sinners are for the purpose of drawing them to repentance (Romans 2:4). We pray because we love God. Prayer is also one of our offensive weapons against the enemy. It is the believer’s spiritual breath. We “pray in” what we have gained from the word of God, expressing our response to what He has said to us. Daily prayer should include the following: worship, thanksgiving, intercession, supplication and commitment. We worship and adore the Lord for who He is.
We should express our gratitude for all God’s past mercies received even when we still have some that are yet to be met (Luke 17:12-19; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Romans 8:28). We should confess our frailties and imperfections to Him and solicit His enabling grace. We should also pray earnestly for other people and present their needs to God as Abraham did for Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:23-33), Jesus did so for us (John 17:9,11) and Epaphras for the Colossians (Colossians 4:12). We should also supplicate for our personal needs, both great and small. Finally, we should commit all our activities for the day unto Him, asking Him to be “Lord of all”. This is the secret of joy in His presence every day.
Believers should know that it is their responsibility to lead the entire family in the way of righteousness. Abraham did and had God’s commendation (Genesis 18:19); Hannah did and had one of the prophets. Hezekiah led the whole city of Jerusalem to seek the Lord in his time (2 Chronicles 29:20). Rhoda, Timothy and the daughters of Philip also had good parental tutelage.
To accomplish God’s purpose for the family, there is need to worship, study and pray together. The father, as the spiritual head of the home (Ephesians 5:23) takes the lead. A regular time of family altar is ensured when the members have time to sing songs and choruses of worship, the father (or his appointed representative) leads in reading and explaining Scripture passages and time is given for heart-lifting praises, intercession, supplication and commitment. This is preferably fixed before the activities of the day are embarked upon. Both parents may prefer to have their individual quiet time before waking other family members for corporate worship or choose to have it after. There is no hard and fast rule. It is also helpful for the family to pray together before going to bed. All these will help the spiritual growth of the young family members and their understanding of scriptural truths.
If we must become men and women who have authority in heaven, then, we cannot do without patterning our lives according to all that we have learnt with respect to communion with God.
Question 1: Give reasons believers need to observe quiet time and family devotion.
Question 2: Why is the morning time best for personal or family devotion?
Question 3: With what attitude should we study the Bible?
Question 4: What are the major activities that constitute a rich quiet time?
Question 5: Why is family devotion essential in the home?
Question 6: What should be our aim as we constantly study our Bible during quiet time?