I know few Christians who can truthfully say they do not struggle with maintaining a consistent “quiet time” with all of the term’s varied meanings. Let me qualify that. I am certain that there are some saints who, over the course of many years of training themselves, have developed a spiritual discipline that sets aside time, often lots of it, to prayer and the reading and study of scripture. Stories abound of the incredible amount of time the church fathers and early theologians spent in these endeavors.
I admit that my example is a poor one, although I can at least attest to having tried a variety methods in search of something that “works” for me. I have tried the “Bible in a year” approach. That being, the use of any of a variety of daily reading plans that usher the practitioner through the entire Bible in one calendar year. I have completed one such plan. But, it left me with the very distinct feeling that it was more of a race against the clock than it was a serious Bible reading plan. Furthermore, when I hear people say that they are reading through the Bible in a year, I can’t help but wonder if there is not a certain element of holier-than-thou pride operating somewhere below the surface. If you are one of those who are reading through the Bible in a year, for absolutely pure motives, forgive my impression.
Another approach I have tried is daily devotions. There are probably too many of these to count, and doubtlessly some are good and some, well, not so much. My primary concern with these is that in their brevity, also comes a certain shallowness to their content. At the very best, they simply cannot develop a whole lot of substance in something less than 200-300 words. And at their worst, they can become a means of didactic moralizing, often with a tenuous and sometimes even tortured use of scripture, to lend support the author’s point.
But finally, I have found a plan that, though several days of use, has proven to be just right for me. It combines the best parts of a daily reading plan, with the structure I need, with a concentration on thoughtful reflection authored by the Holy Spirit, and not an author, whose motives I might sometimes call into question. It is simply titled a Daily Bible Meditation Guide. It was developed by Eric Johnson, a professor at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY and so far, I have found it to be incredibly helpful.
Give it a try. You’re only 1/24 of the way through 2011, and it is by no means too late to start.