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10 Ways to Have a More Meaningful Quiet Time

  • Cindi McMenamin Author
10 Ways to Have a More Meaningful Quiet Time
Are you regularly enjoying a thriving time with God in His Word? Or are you like most people who struggle with staying focused and making that time meaningful?

Sometimes the hardest part is just getting to that quiet place with an open Bible and an open heart ready to hear from God. Then, once you arrive, it seems that distractions abound, right? Or, maybe you feel like you’re in a rut when it comes to your daily routine of meeting with God.

Just like a well-thought-out date night can tune up a marriage and keep it running smoothly, putting a little more thought into spending alone time with God can rejuvenate your devotional life. Lest you find yourself coming to God out of obligation, rather than inspiration, here are 10 ways to have a more meaningful quiet time with God.

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1. Break the Routine

1. Break the Routine

Having a regularly-scheduled quiet time in the same place at the same time each day is good for developing a habit, and making sure you don’t miss intentional time with the Lord. But it may be helpful to switch up your routine at times to break the monotony and the predictability of your time with God.

Break the monotony of familiarity by moving your quiet time to a different room of the house, or switching to a different time of the day. If you are a morning person, try an evening reflection in addition to—or instead of—your morning routine for a day or two. You may even find an extended weekend day will help break the routine and usher in some much-needed quiet time with God. Consider playing some soft music or recorded nature sounds to help you reflect and focus on the Lord. Think of your quiet time with God like a date and change it up to add some excitement—and even a bit of romance—to your time with Him.  

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2. Bring it Outdoors

2. Bring it Outdoors

Do you usually have your quiet time indoors? Then bring it outside onto your front porch or sit in the garden for some quiet time alone with your Bible. Getting outdoors—and hearing the birds chirp or the wind blow through the trees, or the rain fall as you’re sitting on your (covered) patio—can bring you to a place of deeper appreciation for your Creator and remind you that “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains” (Psalm 24:1). 

If the weather is nice, take a worship walk and listen to God’s Word through a Bible app or sermon podcast on your phone. By moving as you’re listening, you can stay engaged and eliminate your mind from wandering.

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3. Change Your Focus

3. Change Your Focus

Do you ever feel you are going through a “dry time” with God because you’re not hearing from Him or learning anything in particular from His Word? Some refer to it as being “in a spiritual rut.” I remember experiencing this, too, and then I realized I was feeling that way because the emphasis was on me and what I was expecting to receive from God. It occurred to me during that time that perhaps I should be asking what God wanted, rather than dwelling on what I was hoping to get from Him.

Consider going into your quiet time with no other expectation than meeting with God in the silence and enjoying His presence. If you don’t feel Him there, remember that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1), and that “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Sometimes He wants you to come knowing He is there without having to always feel Him. Ask God what He wants out of your time together, rather than telling Him what you want. Perhaps He wants you to just sit with Him in the silence and to know you will keep coming back, regardless of what you receive from Him. 

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4. Listen Quietly

4. Listen Quietly

Sometimes it’s easier for us to start in with our requests when we go to God in prayer, rather than to listen for Him quietly. When we take time to listen for God’s whispers on our hearts we can have a more meaningful and relational time with Him, rather than a purely academic time of learning from His Word.

Practice listening by reading a portion of Scripture and then turning it into a question. Ask God What does this mean in the context of who you are speaking to, and how can I apply this to my life? Don’t be afraid of staying a few days or even longer in a passage to glean from it what God wants to say to your heart.  Scripture exhorts us to “study” to show ourselves approved unto God, a workman that needs not be ashamed, able to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15, KJV). Interesting that Scripture says “study” or “Be diligent” (NASB, NIV, ESV), not “read quickly.” So, take the time to study and be diligent and a large part of that time may be spent listening. 

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5. Write it Out

5. Write it Out

Our minds can tend to wander when we read.  Start reading actively by journaling what you’re reading and learning. Rewrite the psalms—or other passages of Scripture—in your journal or paraphrase them by putting yourself into the verses and personalizing them. 

You can also stay focused by writing out your prayers as a conclusion to your time with God. Keep a record of what you’re praying for (along with the date of your request) and record God’s answers—yes, no, or not yet. When you get in the habit of writing during your quiet time, you can better retain what you’re learning and stay more focused and engaged with the text. You also end up with a record of what you’re learning and a great reminder, through the years, of your spiritual journey and where God has taken you, what He’s brought you through, and His history of faithfulness. 

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6. Sing the Psalms

6. Sing the Psalms

The Psalms literally mean “songs” and each of them was written to a score of music. With that in mind, consider singing them during your quiet time with God. Make up a tune, or you may find some psalms that sound familiar because someone has already recorded them to music as  contemporary worship songs or choruses.

Scripture is full of admonition to “sing.” It’s the most reiterated command in Scripture. So, do it…with God’s “hymn book.” Some great songs to start singing include Psalm 5 (Give ear to my words, O Lord), Psalm 25 (Unto Thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul…) and Psalm 32:7 (You are my hiding place… all of those are from the King James Version if a tune happened to come to your mind). 

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7. Unplug

7. Unplug

Either use your device in your quiet time (through a Bible app or to play worship music to enhance your quiet time) or turn it off. I’ve found that eliminating the distractions of notifications on my phone (or better yet, turning it off) helps me to stay focused on what God wants to say, instead of putting Him on hold to read a text, respond to an alert, or keep checking for a message or email I’m hoping to receive.

What did we do before we brought our mobile phones with us to our quiet time with God? We let the answering  machine take the calls or we unplugged the ringer altogether. When the Almighty is waiting to get up close and personal with you, the rest of the world with its demands on your time or attention can surely wait in line.

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8. Praise Him through the Alphabet

8. Praise Him through the Alphabet

Psalm 100:4 tells us to “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.” When we heed that Scriptural command, it keeps us coming into His presence reverently by praising Him for Who He is, rather than immediately demanding His attention to our concerns.

Enter your devotional time by praising Him alphabetically. Simply recite the ABCs with an attribute of His (or as many as you can think of) for each letter of the alphabet. For example:

A - God, you are amazing, awesome and above all.
B - You are bountiful in all your blessings and beholding of glory.
C - Lord, you are capable, credible, consistent and comforting.
D – You are dependable, my deliverer, and deserving of praise.

Say as many attributes of His that you can think of for each letter and you may find if you start doing this daily, you can even come up with new ones each time. I guarantee you can cover every letter of the alphabet many times over when praising the attributes of God, even if you have to use “x” as a second letter – as in “extraordinary” or “extra-loving.”

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9. Hide the Word in Your Heart

9. Hide the Word in Your Heart

In Psalm 119:11 David says “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (NIV). Scripture also tells us to meditate on God’s Word day and night so we will be careful to do all that is written in it and so we may be prosperous and have success (Joshua 1:8).

In short, we are commanded to memorize God’s Word, but we tend to make excuses for doing so (mostly blaming our failing memory). Anything we read, hear, or recite continuously will eventually become etched on our minds and hearts and will roll off our tongues. Find some favorite, helpful, or comforting verses to read or recite over and over (not just in your quiet time, but throughout the day) so you can be one who hides God’s Word in your heart. Another way to do this is to read through the Proverbs—one chapter for every day of the month, beginning with the first day of the month—and by the end of six months or more, you should have several Proverbs hidden in your heart and wisdom rolling off your tongue. 

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10. Switch it Up

10. Switch it Up

I encourage you to switch up the translation you prefer to read, in order to get fresh eyes on the Word of God. All Scripture—regardless of the translation—is not only inspired by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16), but it is also “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). One of the ways God’s Word is active is the way it can pierce your heart anew when you’re reading a familiar verse in an unfamiliar translation. Verses you may have passed over before (or applied to a certain situation in your past) can impact you in a whole new context when read in slightly different wording.

Have you ever witnessed new believers come alive with a passion for God and His Word that you wish you still had? After years of discipling new believers I’ve noticed two primary reasons for that: 1) they were reading God’s Word for the very first time and found it amazing that it applied to them; and 2) they were, in every case, reading a more contemporary, easy-to-understand translation that spoke to them powerfully. When I began to read certain verses along with them, I discovered that a more modern translation can sometimes cause you to see something in a verse you didn’t see before and it speaks to you all over again. Let the Word come alive, once again, during your quiet time by switching to a different translation temporarily for the sake of variety.

Cindi McMenamin is a pastor’s wife, Bible teacher, and national speaker with more than 30 years of experience helping women and couples come to know God more intimately. She is the author of 17 books, including her best-selling When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold), When God Sees Your Tears, When Couples Walk Together, (co-authored with her husband, Hugh), and God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, a devotional to help you discern God’s loving voice. For more on her resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, or parenting, or to learn more about her coaching services to help you write the book on your heart,  see her website www.StrengthForTheSoul.com

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