Do you find yourself nodding off during your quiet time or getting bored with the same routine? Every Christian runs into a devotional dry spell now and then. A fruitful quiet time requires attention and diligence, both of which are hard to maintain. Here are some ideas for structuring a fruitful devotional time so you get the most out of God’s Word.
1. Set a time that works with your schedule and sleep patterns. While I do think it’s ideal to start your day in the Word—it prepares your mind for the choices and decisions ahead of you for the next 24 hours—some people just can’t keep their eyes open in the morning! If the difference between a successful and unsuccessful quiet time is changing the time of day that you study, by all means do so! Find a time in your schedule that allows you to pay full attention to the text. It doesn’t need to be the same time each day; you could do your devotions in the morning on weekends and in the evening on weekdays. It’s better to actually spend time in the Word and in prayer than to agonize about when to do it!
2. Cater your quiet time to your learning style. Not everyone’s devotional time will look the same. If you’re an auditory learner, you may learn the Word better by listening to the Bible read aloud rather than simply reading the passage. You should never neglect reading the Bible itself, but if you’re studying a particular passage, consider rotating an audiobook of the chapter with actually reading a printed version. If you’re a visual learner, try Bible journaling or drawing in conjunction with your study time. Incorporate worship music if it helps you become more in tune with the text you’re reading. Take notes to improve retention. There are many ways you can make your quiet time productive by catering it to your personality and learning style.
3. Keep it interesting. We tend to get into a rut with our devotions, thinking our process has to look like everyone else’s or that it has to follow a particular model. Changing up your quiet time will make you eager to get to it each day, which will in turn increase your attention span and retention. Need ideas? Try the following:
- Make a devotional basket. My own quiet-time basket contains a Bible dictionary, a concordance, several commentaries, journals, gel pens in dozens of colors, highlighters and several different Bible versions. I loved putting it together, and I love using it even more! Put together your own basket with the things you’ll need for Bible study. Personalize it to your tastes and put it where you’ll see it each day. I like to make my coffee right before sitting down—the coffee motivates me to actually do my devotions, and the basket guarantees I’ll have everything I need on hand.
- Change up your reading plan. If you’re locked into a chronological reading plan that is just becoming routine, it might be time to try something new. While I’m a big fan of reading through the Bible in a year (it’s what I’m currently doing!), if it’s becoming routine to you, find a different plan. Try reading a book of the Bible you’ve never read before. Do a word study. Most of all, be reading the Scripture for yourself—not just for someone else’s interpretation. This means going through a book of the Bible itself rather than depending on a devotional for your quiet time.
- Get a commentary. Rather than using a devotional book and supplementing with Scripture, start with Scripture and supplement with a commentary. Commentaries are written by theologians. These books focus on specific books of the Bible and explain what the passages mean. This is an effective way to understand Scripture, particularly the literary and historical contexts.
4. Find accountability. Finally, if you’re struggling to make quiet time a habit, find a friend who can hold you accountable! Meet monthly or weekly to discuss what you’re learning or text each other verses throughout the week. Going through a book of the Bible together can bring you closer as friends (or as a couple, if it’s your boyfriend) and will motivate you to do your devotions each day.
What are your ideas for a fruitful quiet time? Tell us in the comments below!