September is a time for fresh starts. Kids head back to school carrying new backpacks filled with freshly sharpened pencils. The relaxed chaos of summer, vacations, and lazy days gives way to structure and early bedtimes. It's a great time to start over.
Maybe you let your time with God slip away during summer. You know it's a good thing, a necessary thing to grow your relationship with God. It just got pushed aside. Or maybe summer allowed you more time with God. You had unstructured, unlimited (or less limited) time to savor your Bible study and prayer. Now that school is back in session, maybe you're tempted to rush through your morning quiet time as you hurry to get everyone out the door.
I'm in the first group. After a chaotic summer, I'm more than two months behind on my 'read through the Bible in a year' plan. I'm preaching to the choir as I write this. I need a fresh start, too, but I'm determined to dig deep and finish my reading plan on time.
We know our time with God matters, but putting it into action can be pretty intimidating. You get up early, ready to check in with your Hello Mornings group or your She Reads Truth app - but suddenly find yourself staring into the distance, feeling lost. What now?
Over the past several years, through a lot of trial and error, I've developed a structure for my quiet time. It works well by keeping me focused, and I know exactly what to move into as I finish each part.
There are five key areas I want to cover in my time with God each morning:
I always start my quiet time with gratitude. It helps me focus my mind on what I'm doing, and it starts my day on a positive note. A gratitude journal is the fasted way to improve your attitude, because once your start counting His gifts, you find yourself looking for more. Little things become big gifts as you look for God's graces.
2. Scripture Memory
This was the "missing piece" of my quiet time for years. I knew I needed to memorize Scripture, but I didn't know where to start. One of my favorite resources is Do Not Depart, a great website run by Katie Orr. Her "Hiding His Word" challenges are so encouraging.
Jesus Calling is the most popular devotional out there right now, with good reason. It's a short read that always seems to have just the words I need for that day. I will be the first to say, this quick devotional isn't meaty enough to fill your entire quiet time - but it's a perfect way to focus your mind on Him and prepare your heart for your deeper study.
4. Bible Study
There are so many great resources available for Bible study! You can join a Hello Mornings group, read through the Bible using the SOAP method, or go through a She Reads Truth study. I shared several different methods of Bible study back in April. Find the one that matches you and your needs, and dive in. The study you choose doesn't really matter - what's important is consistently getting into God's Word.
I can't wrap my mind around the fact that the God who created the universe wants me to talk to Him. He wants me to ask for what my family and I need, to tell Him what's bothering me, to thank Him for His gifts. What an incredible privilege. While prayer should be on going conversation with God throughout the day, it's important to spend focused time praying over specific needs. I keep a list in my journal of daily prayers for my family, church, and friends, as well as specific prayer requests. (If you'd like to learn more about how I journal, check out my post series from January.)