Time Alone with God

 

How can we start cultivating time alone with God? Where do we start? Let me share just a few simple ways you can begin to cultivate your times alone with God.

 

First, we can get alone with God most readily by reading God's Word! This is the voice of God, we must listen. It is amazing that a Christian can imagine that he or she can live a Christian life without regularly reading the Bible, for that is impossible! Our minds are such that we do not retain what we need to know. They need to be refreshed again and again. Some who have been believers for years have never read the Bible through once. There are truths God has for us that we have not inconvenienced ourselves enough to discover. No wonder we are empty. What a difference reading the Word can make in our lives.

Dr. Harry Ironside, a man of little formal education but great power, read the Bible fourteen times by the age of fourteen. His mark is still on Chicago and indeed the entire world. Five pages a day is a good place to begin. Within a year you will have read the entire Bible. We begin to get alone with God only when we take God's Word seriously as more important than our daily meals.

 

Lt. General William K. Harrison[1] was the most decorated soldier in the 30th Infantry Division, rated by General Eisenhower as the number one infantry division in World War II.

 

General Harrison was the first American to enter Belgium, which he did at the head of the Allied forces. He received every decoration for valor except the Congressional Medal of Honor - being honored with the Distinguished Silver Cross, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, and the Purple Heart (he was one of the few generals to be wounded in action). When the Korean War began, he served as Chief of Staff in the United Nations Command - and because of his character and self-control was ultimately President Eisenhower's choice to head the long and tedious negotiations to end the war.

 

General Harrison was a soldier's soldier who led a busy, ultra-kinetic life, as also an amazing man of the Word. When he was a twenty-year-old Cadet, he began reading the Old Testament once a year and the New Testament four times. General Harrison did this until the end of his life.

 

Since it only takes 80 hours to read the entire Bible, this program General Harrison began obligated him to just ½ hour of reading God's Word for each of the days of his life. Let me ask you, do any of us have ½ an hour to give away each day to cultivate the mind of Christ like General Harrison? How about 14 minutes to read God's Word in a year? How about 3 minutes a day for the New Testament in a year?

 

 

 

hours

minutes

@ day

Read Bible

 

80

4800

13

Old Testament

77%

62

3695

10

New Testament

23%

18

1104

3

 

 

 

 

 

Harrison

 

 

 

 

OT

1

80

4800

13

NT

4

74

4419

12

Minutes needed

 

154

9219

25

 

 

Even in the thick of war he maintained his commitment by catching up during the two- and three-day respites for replacement and refitting which followed battles, so that when the war ended he was right on schedule.

 

When, at the age of ninety, his failing eyesight no longer permitted his discipline, he had read the Old Testament seventy times and the New Testament 280 times! No wonder his godliness and wisdom were proverbial, and that the Lord used him for eighteen fruitful years to lead Officers Christian Fellowship (OCF).

 

General Harrison's story tells us two things: it is possible for the busiest of us, to systematically feed on God's Word. No one could be busier or lead a more demanding life than General Harrison. His life remains a demonstration of a mind programmed with God's Word. His closest associates say that every area of his life (domestic, spiritual, and professional) and each of the great problems he faced was informed by the Scriptures. People marveled at his knowledge of the Bible and the ability to bring its light to every area of life. He lived out the experience of the Psalmist:

 

Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. (119:97-100)

 

You must remember this: You can never have a Christian mind without reading the Scriptures regularly because you cannot be deeply influenced by that which you do not know. If you are filled with God's Word, your life can then be informed and directed by God - your domestic relationships, your child-rearing, your career, your ethical decisions, your interior morality. The only way to a Christian mind is through God's Word!

 

Second, time alone in solitude with God comes through memorization. Mrs. Barnhouse said of her famous preacher husband:

 

Someone once asked him how long it had taken him to prepare a certain sermon. His answer was “Thirty years and thirty minutes!” He had immersed himself in the Bible from the time he was fifteen years old, when he memorized the Book of Philippians a verse a day until he knew the entire book by heart, then went on to other passages. He felt it was not enough to learn by rote — it had to be by heart; because you loved and believed it.

 

Why not begin with a verse — perhaps a verse a week — fifty-two in one year!

 

Few have lived as stressful and frenetic a life as Hudson Taylor, founder of China Inland Mission. But Taylor lived in God’s rest, as his son beautifully attests:

 

Day and night this was his secret, “just to roll the burden on the Lord.” Frequently those who were wakeful in the little house at Chinkiang might hear, at two or three in the morning, the soft refrain of Mr. Taylor’s favorite hymn [“Jesus, I am resting, resting in the joy of what Thou art”]. He had learned that for him, only one life was possible—just that blessed life of resting and rejoicing in the Lord under all circumstances, while He dealt with the difficulties, inward and outward, great and small.

 

Third, we can learn to be alone with God by meditating on it. This is the secret of God’s great warriors. Hudson Taylor, the founder of China Inland Mission, conquered immense hardships by daily meditation on God’s Word. Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor record this in his biography:

 

It was not easy for Mr. Taylor, in his changeful life, to make time for prayer and Bible study, but he knew that it was vital. Well do the writers remember traveling with him month after month in northern China, by cart and wheelbarrow with the poorest of inns at night. Often with only one large room for coolies and travelers alike, they would screen off a corner for their father and another for themselves, with curtains of some sort; and then, after sleep at last had brought a measure of quiet, they would hear a match struck and see the flicker of candlelight which told that Mr. Taylor, however weary, was poring over the little Bible in two volumes always at hand. From two to four a.m. was the time he usually gave to prayer; the time he could be most sure of being undisturbed to wait upon God.

 

Meditating upon the Word brings us immediately into the intimate presence of God, but too few are willing to pay the price.

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither” (Psalm 1:1–3).

 

C. T. Studd was one of God's great servants. His life was like his grass hut, there were no doors to shut, he lived with - and for, his beloved pygmy tribes. How did he prepare to teach as many as 5,000 at a time? How did he get ready to disciple the scores of church leaders who came to sit at the foot of his cot every morning, so that he would awake to a sea of black faces and white teeth waiting for him to open the Book of God to them? Simply in his own words, may I read from his diary[2] dated February 7th, 1886?

 

"The Lord is so good to give me a large dose of spiritual champagne every morning which brace one up for the day and night. Of late I have had such glorious times. I generally awake about 3:30 AM and feel quite wide awake, so I have a good read, and then have an hour's sleep before I finally get up.

 

Studd's family described these times as -

"A Bible is taken down from the shelf, and Bwana is alone with God. What passed between them in those silent hours was known a few hours later to all who had ears to hear."

 

Studd continues in his diary,

" I find then that what I read is then stamped indelibly upon my heart all through the day; and that it is the very quietest of times, not a foot astir, nor a sound to be heard, saving that of God. If I miss this time I feel like Samson shorn of his hair and so of all his strength. I see more and more how much I have to learn of the Lord. I want to be a workman approved of the Lord, not just with a pass degree as it were. Oh how I wish I had devoted my early life, my whole life to God and His Word. How much I have lost by those early years of self pleasing and running after this world's honors and pleasures."

 

A modern spiritual Giant was George Mueller. His life may be distilled down to these words he wrote in a diary:

 

It has pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, the benefit of which I have not lost for more than 14 years. The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, or how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished...Before this time my practice had been, at least for ten years previously, as a habitual thing, to give myself to prayer in the morning. Now I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God, and to the meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved and instructed; and that thus, by means of the Word of God, while meditating on it, my heart might be brought into experimental communion with the Lord.[3]

 

 

 

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[1] Hughes, Discipline of a godly man, p. 76-77.

[2] C. T. Studd, Cricketeer and Pioneer, p. 57, 206.

[3] Scroggie, Method in Prayer, pp.17-18.

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