Discipline is not the only thing necessary in our devotional times. Relationships are built through communication, and two-way communication is better communication.
God speaks to us. In time past, God spoke directly to His people. In 1 Samuel 3:21, we read that God “revealed himself to Samuel through his word.”
The Hebrew word for reveal means “to show or uncover.” The Creator disclosed His thoughts, character, and will to His servant. Today, God’s communication comes mainly through the Bible, and the Holy Spirit enlightens our minds as we read it.
In approaching a portion of Scripture, the following time-honored process, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, can help make examining the Word of God fruitful.
First we ask: “What does the passage say?” We answer this by looking at the message of the passage in its original context. Allow the Bible passage to speak for itself in its original historical and cultural setting.
Secondly we ask: “What does it mean?” Meaning is not limited to the original audience. Within the Bible passage is a core spiritual truth that is meaningful in all ages. We should strive to discover the message a passage has for us today.
Finally we ask: “How does it apply?” The Holy Spirit can change our thoughts, speech, and behavior when we allow Him to use the principle we find in God’s Word to shape us. Another way to phrase this question is, “In what ways should my life change as a result of studying this passage?”
We respond to God. Have you ever written a letter in which you opened the depths of your heart? How would you feel if you received a response to that letter that ignored everything you wrote and talked only about issues that concerned the other person?
The Bible is a love letter from our heavenly Father. It is the story of the depth of His love for us. Yet often our communication with God is one-sided; we read His message to us and respond with prayers that are about us. Instead of responding to the love letter, we ignore its content and focus solely on our own pressing needs.
As we pray, we are free to tell God all of the things that concern us. But remember, you have just heard from Him through His Word about what concerns Him. Take the time to respond to what you have read. Thank Him for His promises. Rejoice in the instruction we have received. Confess where the Holy Spirit is convicting. Revel in the insight into His character. Ask Him for deeper, clearer understanding of what a passage means and what it means as we strive to be transformed more like Christ.
Daniel 6:10 says of Daniel: “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God.” As Daniel made his requests known to God, a spirit of thanksgiving permeated his prayer time, despite his difficult circumstances. Our prayers should be marked by a similar sound of thanksgiving for who God is and what He has done for us.
Writing it down. Keeping a written record of what we discover in our quiet time will reveal trends in our journey of faith. We will see progress in different areas of our life that may go unnoticed were they not written down.
The practice of writing things down helps us remember what we have learned and keeps it fresh in our mind so that we can continue to be impacted by it for the rest of the day.
Jesus was perfect, yet He looked for undistracted time with God. Why? Because He functioned on Earth as all humans are meant to function—in total dependence on the Father. His life on Earth was spent in perfect submission to His Father. We gained insights from Jesus’ own “quiet time” in the previous pages. We can also learn from Jesus how to allow our times with God to impact us throughout our day.