A survey by LifeWay indicated that 90% of “regular church-goers” in the United States agreed with the statement “I desire to please and honor Jesus in all I do.” That is wonderful.
But that same survey indicated that only about 1 in 5 of those same respondents read their Bible daily, and 2 in 5 either only read once or twice a week or not at all!*
A daily “Quiet Time” – time devoted to prayer and Scripture – is critical to the life of a Christ-follower. If you are like me, you don’t deny this, but you have had difficulty putting it into practice.
There may be many reasons for this difficulty, but one that I have found was the intimidation factor. I heard of people who spend an hour or more in daily prayer and Scripture reading and I thought – “Well, that’s great for a person who doesn’t have a schedule like mine.” But even then, I’ve jumped into a resolution to go hard-core and spend 30 minutes every morning… and like a lot of my other resolutions, those attempts have died quickly.
One of the tools I’ve used myself to establish a daily time is great because it starts small. It’s called “Seven Minutes with God,” and is a tiny pamphlet written by Robert D. Foster, one of the more trusted authorities on Spiritual Disciplines. His premise is that 7 minutes a day is something anyone can start with. Think of it – setting your alarm 7 minutes earlier wouldn’t hurt most people, and if you’re like me, you don’t even need to do that – just get out of bed when the alarm goes off the first time!
Foster starts with this opening question: “Are you willing to take 7 minutes every morning? Not five mornings out of seven, not six mornings out of seven – but seven days out of seven!”
If so, he suggests that we start this practice by praying the night prior – “Lord, I want to meet you the first thing in the morning for at least seven minutes. Tomorrow when the alarm goes off at 6:15am, I have an appointment with you.”
He offers the idea of finishing that prayer with this Scripture: “Morning by morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; morning by morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation.” (Ps 5:3).
I would suggest that you set your place up before bed as well. I like to use my desk, because I find if I try to pray and read in bed I risk falling asleep again, and the kitchen table often becomes a place of activity and distraction. I like the idea of having the Bible on the desk and opened to where I will be starting my reading.
Then the next morning at 6:15 (or 6:08!), wake up, take care of your personal needs and go to “enjoy the solitude of 7 minutes with God.”
Foster lays out this 7 minutes like this:
~30 seconds preparing your heart. Thank him for your sleep and the opportunities of the day ahead.
“Lord, cleanse my heart so You can speak to me through the Scriptures. Open my heart. Fill my heart. Make my mind alert, my soul active, and my heart responsive. Lord, surround me with your presence during this time. Amen.”
~4 minutes to read the Bible. He suggests starting with one of the Gospels, like Mark. “Read consecutively – verse after verse, chapter after chapter. Don’t race, but avoid stopping to do a Bible study on some word, thought, or theological problem that presents itself. Read for the pure joy of reading and allowing God to speak – maybe just 20 verses, or maybe a complete chapter.”
~2:30 to respond to God’s words of Scripture with words of your own. Pray in these four areas (the acrostic he uses is “ACTS”).
Adoration – Giving praise to God. “So worship Him. Tell the Lord that you love Him. Reflect on His greatness, His power, His majesty, and sovereignty!”
Confession – Confessing your sins and turning from them. Reflect on your past day – how have you fallen short of the glory of God? Confess those sins – say what they are. Repent from them – commit to turning from them. Embrace God’s forgiveness.
Thanksgiving – “Think of several specific things to thank him for: your family, your business, your church and ministry responsibilities – even thank him for hardships.”
Supplication – “This means to ‘ask for, earnestly and humbly.’ This is the part of your prayer life where you make your petitions known to Him. Ask for others, and then for yourself.” Pray for missionaries, people of the world, leaders, friends, and those who do not yet know Jesus.
And that’s it! A simple framework and a doable plan. As you continue, pray that your time will lengthen and deepen. “Do not become devoted to the habit, but to the Savior.”
I have complete copies of Foster’s booklet that I would love to give you. Or you can see an abbreviated, 1 page printable version here.
How about you? What have your struggles, challenges, and victories been regarding daily quiet time? Does this seem like a tool that could help you, or help you help others? Please join in the conversation in our comments!
*Lifeway, “Study: Bible Engagement in Churchgoers’ Hearts, Not Always Practiced”: https://www.lifeway.com/en/articles/research-survey-bible-engagement-churchgoers