A second set of advice from www.biblehelpsinc.org. Certianly this is just one way to structure your devotional time but it is a helpful framework to begin or add to your current journey of faith.
The Agenda For the Quiet Hour
One organization publishes a small booklet entitled “How to Plan a Daily Morning Watch.” They call it “A Daily 7-Up”—suggesting that, at least for a start, five minutes for morning devotions may be too short, and ten minutes may be too long (and the young Christian will become discouraged). And so the writer recommends a seven-minute devotional period each day—for those who are just beginning the good habit of daily devotions. The first minute can be used for preparing the heart—thanking God for the night’s sleep, for sustaining us through the night, and for choosing to give us another day of life.
The opening prayer can be followed by carefully reading a portion of Scripture. It is a good idea to begin with the book of Mark, because Mark is a short, fast-moving account of the life and ministry of Jesus. (It is best not to begin with Genesis or Matthew—because Genesis is a long book and it is a long way through the Old Testament, and Matthew begins with many hard-to-pronounce names in the genealogy of Jesus.) After completing the reading of Mark, try moving on to John, the Acts, some of the Epistles, and then some of the Old Testament books.
The final few minutes (of a beginner’s devotional period) should be spent in prayer. For a start, it is wise to keep the devotional period short, but as the weeks progress, and the good habit is developed, you will want to allow a longer period of time for the daily quiet time. We want to examine some of the elements of the devotional period more carefully.
a) The quiet hour includes Bible reading.
The Bible is the major source of spiritual food. It is likened to milk (1 Peter 2:2), bread (Matthew 4:4), and meat (Hebrews 5:12). Jeremiah the prophet said, “Thy words were found and I did eat them” (Jeremiah 15:16).
It is important to develop a systematic plan for reading the Bible. At least a few times in life it is good to try and read the entire Bible through from cover to cover. If a person is a good reader, it is well to read five chapters each Sunday, and three chapters each week day—and in that way read entirely through the Bible in one year. There are other “reading guides” that are not as demanding, and yet helpful, in developing a pattern of Bible reading. Often it is more meaningful to read the Bible more slowly and very thoroughly, jotting down notes as you read. The daily quiet-time is not to be a mere mechanical reading of the Bible; it is concentrating on meaning and seeking to absorb spiritual truth.
It is very helpful to have a few good Bible study tools—a Bible dictionary, a concordance, and a Bible handbook. These are available in Christian bookstores and are sometimes available as used books at rescue mission stores and other similar places of business. Sometimes it will be of benefit to read the Bible text in a different translation, allowing the translation to serve as a kind of commentary on the passage you are reading.
b) The quiet time includes simple meditation.
The word “meditation” has a Latin root which means “to ponder” and “to weigh.” Meditation requires reflection and contemplation and study. To meditate means “to give careful thought to” a particular issue. Meditation has always been considered a central part of Christian devotion. Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, thinking things over, and “dwelling on” wholesome concepts.
To meditate effectively, silence is very important. And silence in this noisy world is more and more difficult to experience. The machines of industry, the wheels of business, and the vehicles of transportation are all noisy. Many people seem to prefer some kind of noise—a radio, a television, or a cassette tape playing just about all the time—but those things are not conducive to wholesome meditation.
Meditation is continuous reflection on the goodness of God, and on how His love for us should produce obedience in daily life. Meditation, in a sense, is like a hen sitting on eggs to keep them warm until they hatch. Meditation is thinking long and soberly about God’s love and redemption and guidance and healing and sovereignty, etc. It is easy to hear preaching, to participate in Bible study groups, to attend seminars—to mark our Bibles and fill out notebooks and file away cassette tapes—and then forget about what we have studied. We can go to meetings and listen to Bible teachers and write down notes—and then rush off to something else. We often fail to meditate—to ponder, to question, to reflect, and to apply. Whether we like it or not—it takes time to be holy; it takes time to digest the Word of God. Meditation is one of the keys which enables us to take what we learn and apply it in daily living.
c) The quiet time includes alert prayer.
If you once start reading the Bible on a regular basis, you will often find yourself breathing a prayer as you read. For example, if you are reading the verse in 1 Corinthians 13 where it says, “Love is not easily provoked”—and you remember the burning resentment you felt recently when someone crossed your path—it is natural to pause and pray. Confess your sin; ask God’s forgiveness; pray for deliverance; ask God not only to help you keep your mouth shut, but ask Him to dry up the very wells of resentment down inside your being.
And then, after God has spoken to our hearts through His Word, we should be ready to speak to Him in prayer. Our prayers should be specific, not just “Bless so-and-so.”
It is good to begin our prayer-time by confessing our own sins—acknowledging cheap motives, unlovely thoughts, and poor habits. Talk to God like you would to a trusted earthly father. Tell Him how much you love Him. Thank Him for what He has done. Lay out your needs before Him. Intercede for those who have special burdens. And ask the Lord to guide you throughout the day.
Remember that God does not yawn with boredom when we come to Him in prayer, and tell Him our concerns, and confess our foolishness, and ask honestly for His help. In Hebrews 4:16, we are instructed to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” And in Philippians 4:6, we are told to “let your requests be made known unto God.” Our Heavenly Father wants us to pray.
Bible reading, careful meditation, and sincere prayer—these are major components of the daily quiet time which every Christian should practice.