FEEDING YOUR SOUL
A Quiet Time Handbook
NavPress, 1999, 144 pp. ISBN 1-57683-144-2
Author and speaker Jean Fleming has served with the Navigators in Korea, Okinawa, and the U.S. Her passion is spending quiet time with God. The book is meant to help you meet with God in a more meaningful way. Each chapter is followed by a section of reflection and discussion questions to make it personal.
“Six times in the book of Exodus, God says, ‘I will meet with you.’ Five short words. The simplicity and economy of the statement belies the profound implication. God, Creator of all that is, will meet with you. God, ruler of universe upon universe, will meet with you. The Word made flesh will meet with you. God, Who died in your place and rose again, will meet with you. God, Who reigns in heaven, Lord of all, Who will come again, will meet with you. This is an unthinkable phenomenon. Shocking. Staggering. Terrifying. Electrifying. Wonderful!” (10)
“Relationships must be cultivated.” “Every friendship takes efforts.” (15)
“God wants you to live connected to Him all day long. He desires to use the circumstances you face every day as points of intimate contact with Him.” (16)
“When I say quiet time, I mean an appointment with God, a block of time chiseled out of your day and set apart for God, a time of private worship. Think of it as a date with God. A time for just the two of you.” (17)
“God does not command quiet time, but He does command devotion.” (Deut 6:5, Matt 22:37)(17) “Quiet time is about cultivating a relationship with God.” (19)
“Spiritual disciplines are habits, practices, customs, patterns, routines that we cultivate for a spiritual purpose. Every life is held together by a web of habits that have become nearly automatic.” (19)
“Reasons for having a Quiet Time:
· God desires to meet with you.
· You need it.
· The world desperately needs to see Christ in you.” (20)
“As incredible as it sounds, the full weight of the Bible supports the idea that God wants to meet with you.” “Because He is love, He created people to both receive His love and to respond to His love. Love always seeks expression and response.” (20) “The primary issue is no longer ‘What do I get out of it?’ but ‘How has our relationship been enriched?’” (21)
“After you read the section for the day, write a note to God in your quiet time notebook. Express briefly anything you want to say to God. Write to Him about your current circumstances and your reading in the Bible.” (25)
“A thoughtfully formed habit enables you to spend time shaping your life according to what you understand God’s will to be. Oswald Chambers wrote, ‘Routine is God’s way of saving us between our times of inspiration.’” (30)
“Aim for every day and learn from the days when you miss....” “Commitment breeds creativity.” “I suggest as early in your day as possible for strictly practical reasons.” (31)
“In the morning, part of his quiet time is spent praying through that day’s schedule and ‘do list.’ He asks for wisdom and strength, sensitivity and boldness, as he considers the people and tasks he will face that day. In the evening, he prays through the day backward. As he considers his day, Lorne prays for the people he talked with, reviews their conversations, and notes any actions he is to take.” (32)
Go to the same place each day. Start with a short time but be consistent. Meet with your Lord. Give Him your undivided attention. (33)
Basic Elements: God’s Word and Prayer. “Communication is critical to any relationship.” He speaks to you (through His Word) and you speak to Him (in prayer). “Bible reading reveals God, transforms minds, and nourishes spirits.” (34)
There are no set rules, but you need a plan. “Your plan grows out of your purpose: to keep company with God and to get to know Him, to worship and obey Him, and to be changed by Him.” (35)
· Prepare your heart by telling God you’ve come to meet with him.
· Read and mark your Bible to emphasize what seems important to you.
· Write notes to God in your quiet time notebook. (35-6)
· Read slowly and thoughtfully a portion from a selected book of the Bible.
· Report in your notebook facts and content of what you read.
· Reflect on these notes. What did you learn? How might you apply it?
· Respond to God through prayer regarding what you learned. (36)
“How do we as aliens keep our attention on the spiritual realms—the unseen things above—when the seen world is glittering around us? ...we need to fix our eyes on the truths of God every day.” (41)
Your quiet time is a place of...
· extricating (“All you need to do is nothing, and the world will such you back under its influence.”),
· renewing (Rom 12:2),
· setting your heart and mind on things above (Col 3:1-3),
· identity-shaping (You are a new creature in Christ. 2 Cor 5;17),
· reason for existing,
· knowing God,
· intimacy with God,
· beholding and molding (God intends for you to become like Jesus. Rom 8:29)
· putting off the old person and putting on the new (Eph 4:22-24),
· food and fellowship (Jeremiah 15:16)
· refocusing on what really matters, (“Quiet time can keep you from frittering away your life on the extraneous, the peripheral.”)
· repenting and rejoicing,
· peace and perspective (Jesus has overcome the world – John 167:33),
· hope-reviving, only sure relationships, and
· question-asking. (42-50)
“Quiet time helps spiritual aliens keep their gaze sharply focused on Christ and His kingdom so that they may live between two worlds, serving the kingdom of God on earth.” (52)
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” “What will be the pattern of your life? Time is limited.” “It comes down to making choices—this over that.” (55) Only one thing is absolutely necessary: relationship with Him. (57)
“Someone might ask, ‘Why do I have to have set times to meet with God? Isn’t it better just to come to God when I really feel like it? Isn’t that more sincere?’ The truth is that we have more control over our actions than over our feelings. Make your feelings submit to your choices, not the other way round.” (58)
“Seeking first is the focus of a lifetime, all day, in every circumstance. Quiet time is a practice you develop because you want God to be foremost in your life all day long.” (59)
“If I do the everyday things of life...first, I probably won’t find space to fit in quiet time. But if I make times with God a priority and do it first, the rest of life seems to shake itself in too. Setting priorities means determining what comes first in order of importance.” (60)
“Relationships need time, communication, and love.” (62)
To communicate love to God we need to know his love language and his love language is obedience. “We demonstrate our love by taking God seriously when He speaks, and then conforming our lives to His revealed will. Praise and thanksgiving are expressions of love only if obedience accompanies them.” (63)
“When worries drain away your spiritual vitality, list them in your quiet time notebook. Pray over each situation. ...ask God if there is any action He wants you to take. Record any prompting He gives you and then act on it.” (69)
“A frantic life is not conducive to the life of the Spirit.” (70, quoting Charles E. Hummel in Tyranny of the Urgent)
“Keep plodding. As with most things in life, success comes to those who move steadily in the direction of their goal.” (77)
If you have trouble getting up in the morning, go to bed on time at night. (78)
Meditation exercise: “Choose a verse and read it over and over, each time emphasizing a different word.” “Linger on each word, tasting and savoring.” (79)
“There is value in writing in your quiet time even if it is merely to copy a verse out in your own hand or to type it into your computer.” (84)
“When you write, ...you engage another sense—the tactile. Writing makes demands on an additional part of your brain. Your total person is more fully involved. Writing slows you down and keeps you from bounding over ideas without really touching on them. When you take the time to write something down, you make it more fully your own. The act of writing brands the thought with your mark, but more important, the thought is given the opportunity to mark you.” (84)
Benefits of writing:
· promotes meditation
· aids memory
· helps you hang on to what you’ve learned so you can return to it (85-6)
“A written prayer list facilitates remembering, stimulates faith, and preserves a record for future generations.” (89)
“Read the Word and pray. Ponder. Then go one step further: Capture in writing something of the content and the spirit of what you are learning, thinking, praying, or questioning.” (93)
“In dry times, we miss the sense of God’s presence.” Great men of faith have experienced dry times, for example see Psalm 13. (96-7) “Dry periods are part of God’s training program for you, giving you an opportunity to rely more fully on Him.” (Isaiah 50:10)
“Passion is a channeled river, not a pervasive swamp. People of ‘one thing’ are the hot ones. Are you too scattered to be hot?” (102)
“Spiritual food must be digested as well as ingested. We deaden our spiritual life when we gulp down knowledge without meditation and application. Mistaking ‘knowing’ for ‘being’ is the first soul-blunting step toward hypocrisy.” (106)
“Habits are not deadening, but habits practiced indifferently are.” (108)
“10 Questions to Ask if Your Spiritual Life Is Dull and Dry
1. Are you confessing and turning away from sin?
2. Are you meeting with God regularly?
3. Are you engaged in practices that dull your spiritual sensitivity?
4. What were the conditions around your best times with the Lord?
5. Have you fallen into a rut?
6. Is poor health or fatigue a factor?
7. Are you praying for God’s blessing on your life (1 Chronicles 4:9-10) and enlisting others to pray for you?
8. Have you asked God what He is seeking to teach you through this time?
9. What is one practice or attitude that might breathe fresh air into your times with God?
10. Have you told the Lord that you will come to your quiet time even if the dry times continue?” (108)
“...no large growth in holiness was ever gained by one who did not take time to be often long alone with God.” (115, quoting Austin Phelps in The Still Hour)
“Life is tough. We live behind enemy lines. Extended times of prayer shore us up for the battles we face.” (117)
“Remember that Christian service, or ministry, is not what you do for God, but what He does through you.” (123)
“The task of revealing the Father now falls to us. Jesus prays: ‘As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world’ (John 17:18).” (123)
“Your union with Jesus produces a unified life. This is integrity, wholeness. The line between sacred and secular in your life is erased.” “All of life becomes holy. All things are done for the glory of God. This is the kind of life that reveals the Father to the world you rub shoulders with every day.” (124) “Your life is really His life expressing itself through you.” (126)