A “quiet time” is simply being intentional about having a conversation with God. This usually means listening for God’s voice by reading the Bible or devotions, and speaking to God through prayer. Jesus did this numerous times in the Gospels, sometimes slipping away all night or in the early morning, to spend time with his Father.
Here are some well-respected reading plans that can help you plan this time, they all come with mobile optimised options so you can even take them with you as you travel to work.
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Pray the words of Psalm 63:1: ‘You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.’
The Book of the Law Found
22 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath. 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.
3 In the eighteenth year of his reign, King Josiah sent the secretary, Shaphan son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, to the temple of the Lord. He said: 4 “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest and have him get ready the money that has been brought into the temple of the Lord, which the doorkeepers have collected from the people. 5 Have them entrust it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. And have these men pay the workers who repair the temple of the Lord— 6 the carpenters, the builders and the masons. Also have them purchase timber and dressed stone to repair the temple. 7 But they need not account for the money entrusted to them, because they are honest in their dealings.”
8 Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.” He gave it to Shaphan, who read it. 9 Then Shaphan the secretary went to the king and reported to him: “Your officials have paid out the money that was in the temple of the Lord and have entrusted it to the workers and supervisors at the temple.” 10 Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.
11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. 12 He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: 13 “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”
14 Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Akbor, Shaphan and Asaiah went to speak to the prophet Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem, in the New Quarter.
15 She said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me, 16 ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read. 17 Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched.’ 18 Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: 19 Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse and be laid waste—and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the Lord. 20 Therefore I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.’”
So they took her answer back to the king.
Listen to God alone
How does faith remain alive in a nation that is hostile or indifferent to God? During the spiritually liberal and destructive years of Manasseh and his son, Huldah had learned to block out the voices of the surrounding culture and listen to God alone. So when the time came she was ready to deliver God’s message (vs 15–19). Is that true of us?
Wary of sharing God’s word
Hilkiah kept the faith alive quietly. Notice how his message and Shaphan’s words to the king are intriguingly understated (vs 8–10). Perhaps they thought Josiah would follow his father and grandfather in their disregard for God’s law? Can we be just as wary of sharing God’s word with others because we fear their reaction or because we underestimate the power of God’s word?
Spared the guilty verdict
Who knows what prompted Josiah’s initial interest in the Temple? This small step towards God (vs 3–7) became an opportunity for God’s word to work powerfully, convicting and transforming Josiah (vs 11–13). How does our response to God’s word compare to Josiah’s (v 19)? God meets humble repentance with mercy (v 20). Josiah was spared the guilty verdict from God (v 20) – as are we when we turn to Christ (see Acts 3:19,20).
Pray for God’s word to be heard in your nation, for the Holy Spirit to convict and for people to respond in humility and repentance.
When my husband and I go on holiday and visit other churches in New Zealand, I am always saddened by the fact that many do not read out the Word of God in public. The younger students I teach often do not engage in the daily discipline of devotions. Likewise, many Christians have never read through the whole Bible and live on a diet of a few gospel stories and a little of Paul. Worse still, this material is often only encountered second-hand in sermons, therefore without an overall picture of what God requires of us.
Josiah seems to have had a similar lack of knowledge regarding God’s Word, perhaps because he had no opportunity to find out more. His heart was in the right place, however, and his initiative to honour God and repair his Temple (vs 3–7) led to the discovery of the Book of the Law (v 8). This may have been some form of Deuteronomy, which is repeatedly called ‘this Book of the Law’ (Deut 29:21; 30:10; 31:26) and details the consequences if God’s people break the covenant. Josiah’s story teaches us that those who seek God will find him. A woman I knew lived in Iran and secretly watched Christian evangelists on TV – first out of boredom, then later because she came to faith. She desperately longed to have a Bible of her own and started praying for it. Miraculously, one was given to her, enabling her to grow in faith and understanding.
Josiah sets an example as he responds to God’s Word with deep remorse and repentance (vs 11,19). God honours his sincerity, so that the final catastrophe is delayed until after his time (v 20), even if his godliness cannot stem the tide of judgement.
Pray for those who risk their lives to bring the Bible into restrictive countries. Pray that God’s Word may transform hearts. May we hear it afresh and respond with faith.Csilla Saysell
There are voices today that claim to speak God's mind on whole nations.
• In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, Jerry Falwell proclaimed that this was God's judgement on America for allowing abortion.
• In 2007, the Bishop of Carlisle said that the flooding in Britain was God’s response to the introduction of pro-gay laws.
What are we to make of
Does God speak today? Yes.
Does he care about events on a national scale as well as a personal one? Yes.
Are we to believe that anyone who stands up and makes pronouncements is speaking on behalf of God? NO!
We must use the Bible,
In 1 Thessalonians 5:19–22
• Don’t just write them off. We should not ‘put out the Spirit’s fire by treating prophecies with contempt’ (as verses 19 and 20 may be translated).
• Don’t just accept them. But rather ‘test them all’ (v 21a).
• Do discern what is to be held onto (‘what is good’, v 21b) and what is potentially harmful (to be rejected outright, v 22).
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