Water was running everywhere. A pipe had busted in my back yard. I ran to the front sidewalk, where the water meter and shut-off value are located. Sweeping the gravel on the top aside, I lifted the metal lid and saw the valve. However, my attempts to turn it with a small pair of pliers was in vain. My neighbor Herb spotted me on the ground –desperate. “Trying to cut that off? I've got just the tool,” he yelled. His wrench was designed for that valve. We cleaned up the mess.
Right afterwards I had to call in a plumber to install new pipes. He told me, “The right tool is critical for doing the job. This situation isn't that complicated, but most homeowners lack the right tools to fix it.” Many years ago I met with the leadership of the Navigators, who were deep in the Word and in the discipling of people. I asked them, “What are the essential life-changing truths that you teach a believer, and how do you teach them?” Most of these guys shared their “power tools” — the doctrinal basics and methods they used to teach others.
I also asked the most amazing visionary and innovative mentor I've known, Dawson Trotman. He replied, as he did often, with a question, “What if you only had an hour a day with a person over three days? What are three crucial things you would want to teach a person who is assured of his salvation and open for the next steps?” I gave my answer and he then gave his. “If I only had a couple hours time with a guy, I'd teach him how to have a time alone with God daily — Bible reading and prayer. I'd give it the first priority. Growing in knowing Christ produces the driving passion that can keep a man pure and motivated over the years.” “Next,” he said as he smiled, “I'd teach someone scripture memory. That way he has the Word traveling with him, the Sword of the Spirit sharpened to keep Satan from taking him out!” He also mentioned “attitudes” that produced obedience, and methods of digging in the Word.
Staying in Shape
To stay in shape physically, your body demands regular, disciplined exercise. In the same way, to maintain a healthy relationship requires extended time with someone. We all long to be with those we love. God loves you and wants consistent time alone with you. He values you so much, that he gave his only Son as a sacrifice on the cross for your sins. This supreme act of love bridged the “gap” so that sinful mankind could enjoy friendship with a holy God. Take a look at The Bridge.
But worry, work, and wishes grab our time and can easily make friendship with God second place (see Mark 4:19 ). To stay in shape spiritually, a daily appointment alone with God must become priority. As you pray and read His Word, you'll sense the Lord's presence in every decision and relationship. As Daws said, this is the No. 1 priority to teach another believer.
Why you need to make time with God a daily priority:
- Our Heavenly Father seeks worshippers (see John 4:23 ). Every believer in Christ Jesus has been invited to be His daily companion (see 1 Corinthians 1:9 ).
- You will receive fresh direction for your life (see John 16:13 ). When you listen first to the voice of the heavenly Father through the Bible, you'll get His priorities for your day.
- You will have consistent answers to prayer (see John 15:7 ).
- You will distinguish truth from error (see John 17:15-17 ).
- You will experience His constant love (see John 17:23, 26 ).
What does one do to have an effective time alone with God?
Daniel, a mighty servant of God, gives us a model of practical time in Daniel 6:10, 11: “Daniel . . . went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (NIV).
From this account we learn that Daniel had:
- a specific time for fellowship with God;
- a definite place for prayer; and
- a specific agenda of things to talk about with God.
A DEDICATED PERIOD with God
Most mature Christians find that meeting God early in the morning, before one goes to work or hits the daily grind, is a powerful help. Why not make it a goal to “connect” with your Heavenly Father, and capture his presence early in your day? Make an appointment with God the evening before, to meet him the next morning. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35).
- You may need to dress, shower, or get something to eat or drink before you begin your time with God.
- Start off setting aside 10 minutes in your schedule: use five minutes for Bible reading, meditation, or study; then use the rest of the time in prayer.
- Of course, you will enjoy praying to God during the day about anything on your heart. He's always there listening, encouraging you in His will.
A DEFINITE PLACE for Time with God
Jesus habitually withdrew to a quiet place for prayer. We need a private place to talk aloud openly to God, feeling emotionally free. The place could be your car, going early to work, a room in your house, or walking outside. Ask God to lead you to a quiet place where you can use your Bible, talk aloud to God, listen to His Spirit, and write insights in a journal.
A DETERMINED PLAN in Your Time with God
First, prepare your heart to hear from God by confessing any sin by name. God will forgive you as you turn from the sin. Next, “dig” into the Scripture to encounter God. Have a pen handy to jot down ideas the Lord reveals. The goal of time with God is to know Him more fully, grow in loving Him, and obey Him instantly.
Choose a reading study plan:
- If you've not done much Bible study, you could start with a simple question-answer study . There are many good booklets available. We suggest FIRST STEPS by Waylon B. Moore. It is a planned way to get a person quickly into the simple basics. The writer chooses John's great heart-verses. A whole Gospel of John (NIV) is bound together with the study questions and notes.
- Read through a book . Get to know Jesus in the Gospels. Dig into the letters of Paul, Peter, and John. Perhaps start with Philippians, or 1 Thessalonians. Read a short book through at one sitting, daily for a month. You'll know it better than any other book. Take notes on what strikes you, convicts you. Look for God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in each chapter. Here's another idea: enjoy the Psalms. Every human emotion is there. Read five Psalms a day and cover all 150 in a month. Ask as you read, “Lord, what would you have me know, stop, change, or start in my life?” (see 2 Timothy 3:16 ).
- A part of the Quiet Time emphasis involves personal soul-feeding with Bible study. There are other valuable tools available for personal Bible study on our website. See these Tools:
The Hand of Prayer
We fuel the pump of prayer with the water of the Word. John Wesley said, “God will do nothing, but in answer to prayer.” God waits for you to pray and believe Him. Missionary Ruth Paxson said, “Prayer works, prayer is work, and prayer leads to work. Schedule prayer like you schedule your work.” Make an appointment with God the night before.
- The finger (thumb) of Confession. Name each sin specifically (see 1 John 1:9 ).
- Petition: the index finger, asking God for specific things (see Matthew 6:11 ).
- Intercession: the middle finger, praying for others, their needs, problems. For your pastor, relatives, friends. Get a map of the world and pray for a missionary (see 1 Timothy 2:1-4; and John 17 ).
- Thanksgiving to the Lord; the ring finger. Thank God for what He is doing. Be specific (see 1 Thessalonians 5:18 and Ephesians 4 ).
- Praise God for who He is — His worth, His words, His works (see 1 Chronicles 16:10-12 and 1 Chronicles 29:11, 12).
Begin by praising God, and then thank Him for what He's doing in your life and family. Ask for His will in specific areas of needs. Keep a prayer list of people you pray for daily or weekly, listing requests and the date that God answers. Remembering His faithfulness will encourage your heart. Like a wonderful saint, Aunt Tibbs, in Boston told me: “Asking God is warming up your engine; move to believing God and you're shifting into gear!”
Memorizing Scripture & Other Tools
The second essential for growth Daws Trotman emphasized was the habit of memorizing and meditating on Scripture. You may download two articles from our website, “How to Memorize Scripture — So You'll Never Forget ” here and “My Favorite 100 Best Verses To Memorize” here. Also in Living God's Word is “The Surprising Habit That Changes Your Life” (p. 24). I recommend also the Navigators Topical Memory Systemavailable at Christian bookstores.
The third emphasis I observed that marked Trotman's life was his winsome commitment to personal soul-winning. He modeled it and shared story after story of reaching people for Jesus. Have you ever floundered to know how to best “do the job” of training believers and raising up leaders? These elements are the “power tools” that the Holy Spirit uses for rapid growth and multiplication in those we mentor-disciple. Do you have these tools available in your life now? Begin! You'll multiply into many generations.
First Steps and Living God's Word, referenced in this article, may be purchased from our site.