A bit of peace and quiet

I looked around the railway carriage as I travelled back from London yesterday. Everyone, except one person was on the telephone, texting, or blackberrying. The odd one was sitting sideways on eating a Big Mac and chips. What we need is a bit of quiet! Here’s the tranquility map for Cambridgeshire. You can find others at: http://www.cpre.org.uk/campaigns/landscape/tranquillity

Sadly, where I live has a raised noise level. I have to confess I’m one of those people who has the radio on all the time. Sometimes on via DAB in the kitchen, via sky in the living room, and streaming to the computer all at the same time.

I loved the irony in this advice I came across recently about being quiet with God:

Christianity is not a legal relationship, it is a love relationship. Ten thousand “don’ts” will never make you one iota more like the Lord Jesus Christ. It is Jesus Himself Who makes you like Him. But you need to spend time with Him. I want to give you five factors for spending some quiet time with Him each day.

And then goes onto be remarkably legalistic:

The Proper Period

You must find the right time. Your quiet time should last at least half an hour. But some time is better than no time, so if you can’t start at thirty minutes, begin with ten. It should be your very best time. Don’t give the Lord your leftovers. And don’t try to find time – make time, and make it a priority. Also find time early in the day. Psalm 5:3 says, “… in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up.” You don’t take the trip and then read the map, do you? Spend time alone with God to begin your day.

The Proper Preparation

A quiet time is fellowship with a holy God. There are a few things you can do to be prepared for this time.

Be physically alert. Find a time when the cobwebs are out of your mind and you can think clearly.

Be mentally aware. Be focused, and know He’s there. Emotion doesn’t really have all that much to do with it.

Be morally pure and clean. Some people don’t have a quiet time because they feel uncomfortable looking God in the face with sin in their lives.

The Proper Place

Find a place where you can focus. Jesus said enter into your closet and pray (see Matthew 6:6). That simply means find a place of isolation where you can shut the door on the world and open the windows to heaven. Jesus sought out places where He could be alone, and so should you.

The Proper Provisions

In order to have an effective quiet time, you need the right tools:

a readable Bible – Invest in one with plenty of room to jot notes in the margins.
a prayer journal – Expect God to give you something and write it down. Also use it to record things you’re praying about.
a notepad – Write down your daily assignments.

The Proper Procedure

Get still and quiet. The Bible says in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Focus your mind on Him. Calm down, relax, and recognize His presence. Take a deep breath and focus your thoughts on the Lord.

Get into the Word of God. It’s better to start by reading the Bible than it is to start in prayer. It is more important for you to hear from God, even than for God to hear from you. God already knows all about you, but you need to know a lot more about Him.

Read the Bible for quality and not quantity. It’s good to have a goal to read the Bible through in a year, or a similar goal; but that’s not the purpose of your quiet time. Also, devotional books are wonderful. But again, this is not the place for them. This is the time when you simply read the Bible with an open mind.

Meditate. As you focus on the Word of God and meditate, let it permeate you. Ask:

Is there a command to obey?
Is there a promise to claim?
Is there a sin to avoid?
Is there a lesson to learn?
Is there a new truth to carry with me?

Record what God has given you. Write down what God says to you and what He tells you to do. It doesn’t have to be flowery. You’re not writing it for publication or to impress other people.

Now you’re ready to pray. When you pray, pour out your soul. Be natural and honest with God. Tell Him how you feel. Pray out loud. It keeps your mind on track and enables you to stay focused.

Begin to share out of your quiet time. God did not make us to be reservoirs; He made us to be conduits. Tell others what is God is showing you.

Finally, obey what God tells you. Your spiritual train is running on two rails. One is revelation and the other is obedience. And if either rail stops, your train stops. Learn to obey the Word of God.

I pray these simple suggestions will help you have a daily quiet time in the presence of our loving, almighty, powerful God.

Crumbs – all good stuff. By the time I got to Huntingdon there was just two of us in the carriage sitting at either end. By now my fellow traveller had his iPod on. So loud that I could clearly hear the music. How loud was that in his ears?

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