Spending time alone with God each day is essential for continued growth and development. When we stop practicing this discipline we become distant from our Father and His Spirit ceases to bear fruit in our lives. Jesus modeled for all His disciples a life of dependency on God. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he [Jesus] got up, went out, and made his way to a deserted place; and there he was praying.” Mark 1:35 CSB. Here are 10 ways you can spend time alone with God in His Word every day.
- The Speechless Approach (with journaling)
Don’t say a word. Instead spend your time thinking about God and who He is. Put all other thoughts out of your mind. Don’t allow your mind to wander. Wait silently before the Lord and allow Him to remind you of who He is. Meditating through the Psalms is most helpful in this method. Don’t ask Him for anything for you or anyone else, just be still before Him. When you cannot contain yourself any longer, break forth in worship and praise to Him. Develop a devotional playlist that you can use during this worship time.
As your mind fills, you’ll want to express your thoughts. Keep a journal of these. We tend to say meaningless things to God when we pray and thus we lose focus. We seldom write any word we do not mean and have not thought about. Use Scripture to speak specific sentiments. Be sure to record biblical passages that God uses to speak to you. Highlight those verses and phrases in ways you will recall later.
- The Devotional Book Approach
Secure a good devotional book such as, Oswald Chambers, “My Utmost for His Highest.” or the sequel, “Still Higher for His Highest.” or “Day by Day,” by Billy Graham. Or “Renewed Day By Day,” by A.W. Tozer. There are many others. One idea for using a devotional book is to not read too much at one time. Instead stop and meditate on what you have read, asking God’s Spirit to guide you and convict you.
My wife, Angie, enjoys this method most, especially since her time alone with God is early in the morning. This intimate method avails itself toward prayerful journaling too. As most devotionals are based on one verse or phrase in scripture, you’ll often find your mind jumping to additional verses. Don’t stifle that. Follow the Spirit’s prompting and enjoy the time with Him. A good idea is to rewrite what you have read in your own words and personalize it. Keep these in a journal.
- The One Word Approach
Take a word like faith, truth, temptation, delight, etc. … and trace it through the entire Bible. You will need a good concordance for this, but this is a good investment for your library. This might take several weeks to accomplish with each word you trace, but you will be blessed from the experience.
I took this approach when my son, Trey was young, and he was developing a real love for fishing. We took the word “fish” and a Strong’s Concordance I gave him. Each night, we looked up the next mention of that word and the story or verses surrounding it. Some familiar and obscure stories gave way to some great dialogue.
- The Meditation Approach
Meditate on Scripture alone. Don’t run to another book or commentary. Just sit and chew on what you have read. Wisdom books like, Proverbs are particularly useful in this method, but be sure to use this method with didactic books like Philippians, Galatians, James, 1 Peter, 1 John. Use your time to memorize the verse and then think about it all day as you sit at a stop light, or are waiting on someone or before you eat a meal or before you go to sleep. Part of meditating is wrestling with something until you get it. What you are meditating on can be an excellent conversation starter as well with co-workers or casual friends.
- The Doctrinal Approach
If you enjoy your devotions becoming in-depth studies, then you might consider using the Doctrinal approach. Begin with a doctrine and dig. Dig deeper, follow cross-references, peruse commentaries on those passages. For example, if you’re intrigued by the topic of the End Times, start with the doctrine of Eschatology. Be sure to take notes of your own observations along the way. As you learn new insights, don’t be surprised that God prompts you to share those with someone. I’ve never known God to waste a revelation.
6. The Personal Problem Approach
If you are having a problem with a particular issue in your life, spend your time studying verses that relate directly to that problem. There are books you can find that are organized in this way. While this has become the default approach for many believers, I don’t recommend it often because the focus is on the person not the Lord.
- The Knowing God Approach
Spend your time with God really focusing on some personal attribute of His. Look up Scripture related to that attribute. Write down ways that this attribute impacts your life and family and the world at large. Spend time praising God for this attribute. Just delight yourself in the wonder of who God is. Journaling your sentiments can be most helpful as you reflect on God’s faithfulness. Rejoice in answered prayers. This is a great way to count your blessings. Many of the great devotional books we use today were born from this method.
- The Sequential Approach
We tend to miss so much when we read a verse or a passage just once. But if you read the same passage every day for a week (or even a month), you’d be amazed at what the Lord shows you. Try reading the entire book of Jonah (its only 4 chapters), then do the same thing each day for 7 straight days. Many years ago, I did this with Philippians. It’s no surprise that my week turned into a week of joy. I kept reading it over each day for an entire month. What a blessed month! Each year, I take one book to do that with.
Similarly, you can choose to read through the Bible sequentially, or even chronologically. See Robby Gallaty’s Foundation study (adult, teen, and children versions available).
- The Intercession Approach
Spend the entire time praying for other people and their needs. This is the opposite of the personal problem approach. In fact, try not to mention one word about yourself. We all tell people that we will be praying for them; so, why not take one day a week to focus your time with God to do just that – pray for all the people that week that you said you would pray for. A variation of this would be to spend your entire time with God one day just praying for one person or your church. For more info on this, consider Mobberly’s Watchman Prayer ministry (www.mobberly.org/watchman).
- The Book Approach
This is my personal favorite. For those who like to read and appreciate the comprehensive perspective, consider the Book Approach. Pick any book of the Bible and read from start to finish in one sitting (or with long books, like Isaiah, you can at least read it through in about a week). Reading lengthier portions will allow me to slowly read through more contemplative books like, Psalms or Proverbs that were not written in one sitting anyway.
The diversity of starting a different book fairly often, appeases my A-D-D tendencies while still feeling the joy of accomplishment regularly. Sometimes, I’ll consecutively read all the books penned by one author. This method allows me to read through a different version of the Bible each year, something I’ve been doing for the last 10 years.
In 2017, I read through the Jewish-friendly Tree of Life Version. With the Old Testament books arranged in Septuagint sequence and the use of over 100 different well-known Hebrew words throughout the main text, it was refreshingly different. In 2018, I’ll be reading through the new Christian Standard Bible. With an excellent balance between reliability and readability, I’m looking forward to the deepening of my faith!
Find a plan that works for you and get started! You’ll never finish what you don’t start.
“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4