TIME ALONE WITH OUR HEAVENLY FATHER (MATT 14:23; PS 1:2)
Dear Members in Christ,
Time alone with our heavenly Father (Matt 14:23; Ps 1:2)
Right at the start of the year, it is a good thing to consider a very important aspect of our spiritual lives - the practice of daily devotion. Some may call it “quiet time” or time for morning “prayer and reading,” whatever you may choose to call it, it is a time set aside for the Christian to commune with God.
Just as a little child would call upon his or her parents upon waking, to give him a sense of security that they are there for him, so the Christian ought also to call upon his or her heavenly Father. This practice of daily devotion (also called Quiet Time, QT, or Personal Devotion) by Christians is a time set aside from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, for the reading of scripture and for prayer.
The Quiet Time is an important part of the Christian’s spiritual nurture. It is a practice which we can learn from the many examples in the Bible where our Lord Jesus is seen to spend time alone in prayer to the Heavenly Father. A very often cited verse is Matthew 14:23, in which the Lord Jesus, after having fed the 5000, withdraws from the multitudes to spend time in solitude and prayer.
“And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.” (Matthew 14:23)
The example of our Lord Jesus, taking time to commune with God
The preceding passage from the Gospel Matthew is by no means the only instance, for we read in Luke 6:12, 13 that, “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles.” In this above passage, the Lord Jesus took time to commune with God before naming the twelve He had selected to be His apostles.
The Bible also describes the time and typical locale in which the Lord spends time in devotion. The Gospel of Mark in Mark 1:35 reads, “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” The Gospel of Luke describes in Luke 5:16 “And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.” The setting and actions of the Lord Jesus is clear.
The Lord Jesus often took time aside from His ministry of healing, preaching and teaching, and He will spend time in quietness, to commune with the Heavenly Father. This is a pattern observed in the Bible. The Lord Jesus will withdraw Himself, the word “withdraw” being translated as “go aside” or to “retire quietly.” He will seek a quiet place, often in the wilderness, away from the busyness of the multitudes. And having found quiet and rest from the crowds, there He will pray and spend time in solitude with God.
Quite often, the Lord Jesus seek these times of solitude and prayer prior to embarking on a task or an area of ministry. For instance, in Mark 1:35 it is recorded that the Lord Jesus went to a solitary place and prayed. Thereafter, in Mark 1:38, the Lord declares to the disciples that, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.”
We see a pattern in the Lord Jesus for our practice of quiet time. He sought out a quiet place, He prayed to His heavenly Father. He communed with God before setting off to do His Father’s business.
Helpful tips for Our Quiet Time
Just as we read of the many instances in the life ministry of the Lord Jesus, he withdrew to spend time in communion with God, we too ought to follow this example. We need to do this daily, listening to the word of God and speaking to our father in Heaven. The Bible is God’s very words for our instruction, and prayer is the means by which we speak to God and bring our petitions to Him.
Firstly, find a suitable time. For most, the early morning is the best, before we get caught up in the busyness of the day. The passage we read in Mark 1:35 tells of the Lord Jesus “rising up … before it was day.” An early morning session of “Quiet Time” will prepare us for the many trials that will come in the course of the day. QT also allows us to seek God’s wisdom before taking on any challenging task.
Secondly, seek out a quiet place, away from distractions. Put away your phone and other electronic devices, ignore any incoming notifications. Part of the time for Personal devotion is a time spent on reading and meditating upon God’s word. The absence of distractions will help us focus our thoughts on the words of scripture, and to focus our minds on the things God has commanded us to do.
Thirdly, keep in mind important thoughts of your daily prayers and devotion. Jot down or keep in a notepad any important thoughts or lessons during the time of personal devotion. It may be a reminder about some area of service for the Lord for which you have neglected, or perhaps some area of your life or conduct which may need correction or personal improvement.
The purpose of daily devotion
The bible teaches us in 1 Tim 3:16,17 that the word of God is given to us in order for us to be perfect (not sinless perfection, but rather, spiritual maturity), and to furnish us for every good work. In Ephesian 6:17, the Bible is described as the “sword of the Spirit” a very necessary part of a soldier’s weaponry to equip us for the spiritual battle which we face every day. Reading and taking time to meditate upon God’s word is an important part of our daily devotion. There are many tools available, and one commonly used daily devotional aid is the “Read, Pray, Grow” booklet available in hardcopy or e-copy. It is structured and convenient and the contents are written based on sound scriptural doctrines. Each day’s devotion ends with a question for the reader’s reflection and meditation on the daily portion of the Bible passage.
Prayer is another important part of the personal devotion or quiet time. The bible teaches us to pray without ceasing (1 Thes 5:17), and we are to pray for all men (1 Tim 2:1). This does not mean that our prayers are to be general and unspecific petitions to “cover all bases.” Quiet time or devotional time is an occasion where we can be specific and think about the needs most immediate to us, like our personal spiritual development, our service in church, our relationships, and our evangelistic zeal. Pray and speak to God, led by His Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit does teach and guide us in prayer. May God grant us daily strengthening in our spiritual lives through the practice of Personal Quiet Time, that we may bring glory to His Name.
Dn. Ben Lim Seh Beng