I have found that having a daily quiet time—time set aside for prayer and Bible reading—is essential if I am to faithfully live out my Christian faith.
I wish I could say that I feel refreshed and inspired every time I have a quiet time. However, the truth is that sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I feel that my devotional time is redundant or unexciting. In fact, sometimes when I finish I can’t even remember what I’ve just read!
I’d been experiencing this frequently, so I tried some strategies to jump-start my quiet times.
Ways to revitalize your quiet times
- Try a new reading plan. Something as simple as changing the approach you use to read Scripture can bring a new energy to your quiet times. I typically read through the books of the Bible in canonological order, so I’ve changed things up by using a chronological reading plan this year. Sometimes I find it difficult to work through some Old Testament books (e.g., Leviticus, Numbers), so I’m sure to also read a passage from the Psalms or Proverbs on days when I read from these books. There are dozens of reading plans available (do a quick internet search to see examples), so you should be able to find one that will give you a fresh approach.
- Get moving. Sleepiness is the single biggest challenge I face when trying to have effective quiet times. If I curl up on the couch with a blanket and my Bible, I might as well just go climb back in bed. I’m going to doze off. I know this is what happens, so I don’t allow myself to sit curled up in a blanket on the couch when I’m trying to read the Bible. I get moving. Most days I ride the exercise bike that my husband and I purchased last year. (It’s pretty hard to fall asleep while on the bike!) If you don’t have access to a bike, get moving in whatever way you can (e.g., stretching, doing jumping jacks, going for a brisk walk, marching in place).
- Worship. On mornings when I’m distracted or I simply don’t feel like having a quiet time, I find that worship motivates me. It helps me take my eyes off myself and focus on the Lord. I’ll sing along to a worship CD or sing hymns out of an old hymnal that I have in order to get focused and energized.
- Journal. While I can read the Bible somewhat absentmindedly, it takes more effort to write. Thus, writing out my thoughts and prayers in a journal is a great way to sharpen my focus and keep me alert.
- Read a commentary or Bible study book. While I firmly believe that there is no substitute for Scripture, sometimes it can be very helpful to read a commentary or Bible study book to help augment your Bible reading.
- Get creative with prayer. Do you ever feel like you’re repeating the same thing each time you pray? If you’re praying earnestly, then this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, sometimes I experience this because I’m not sure where to focus my prayers. There’s never a shortage of situations that need prayer, so this is easily fixed. Sometimes I’ll email or text message friends and ask about their prayer needs. Sometimes I’ll look at a map of the word and pray for different countries. Sometimes I’ll pray for each of the politicians who represent me at the local, state, and national levels.
- Listen to sermons. When I do have drier quiet times, I’ll sometimes find a sermon to listen to at some point during the day (such as while I’m cleaning or cooking). Hearing what God is stirring in someone else’s heart can freshen my perspective.
These strategies have effectively revitalized my quiet times. What helps you? What do you do when your quiet times grow redundant?