by School of Biblical and Theological Studies Faculty
Meeting with God on your deck or porch, hot cup of coffee in one hand, Bible in the other. Feeding yourself from the Scripture in a peaceful, sunlit room. Being strengthened and made wise by the Word and prayer as you sit at the kitchen table.
However you may view a quiet time, the value of having focused time with the Lord through the Bible and prayer is a tried-and-true discipline for growing in our love and commitment to Him. Cedarville Magazine reached out to members of the School of Biblical and Theological Studies faculty to find insight and inspiration for how to have a meaningful and personal quiet time with God. We pray you are blessed and encouraged as you pursue your own quiet time with the Lord.
Associate Professor of Theology
A key is consistency in the rhythm. I am helped by my engagement with the church directory and the Valley of Vision (a book of Puritan prayers), as well as the Psalms to get me started in prayer each day. I read consistently and seek to use the Word of God as a means to hear from God and then pray back to God, communing with the Father, Son, and Spirit.
Associate Professor of Biblical Studies
My occupation is to study the Bible day and night (Josh. 1:8; Ps. 1:2), but a very special part of that daily study is devoted to reading approximately three chapters from the Hebrew Bible and one chapter from the Greek New Testament in order to complete both parts of the Bible annually. The focus of this time in the Bible is discernment of the text's verbal meaning. This meaning then prompts me to understand, believe, and obey accordingly. Thus, the Bible itself sets the agenda for my walk with God.
Assistant Professor of Biblical Theology
When reading the Scriptures, I ask myself questions when I have finished the text. First, "What does this passage teach me about God?" Second, "What does this passage teach me about humanity?" And third, "What does this passage teach me about how God interacts with humanity?" I find that these questions help to focus my learning and application from the text. These questions work when doing detailed Bible study or personal devotional reading.
Assistant Professor of Missions and Theology
For many years the prayers that I prayed during my time with the Lord in the morning were divorced from what I had just read in Scripture. I would read through a portion of the Bible and then I would finish, close my Bible, and spend time in prayer. One of the simplest but most helpful things I have done is to keep my Bible open. I spend more time meditating on the text and then letting the text guide my response and prayers. This helps me reflect on the text and really apply the Word to my life. It has also helped diversify what I pray about and makes me think about my response. A resource that gives me specific ways to pray for the nations is an app on my phone called IMB Pray. This app gives current prayer requests that have been written by missionaries all over the world. It is such a blessing to know how to pray specifically for people groups and individuals instead of just asking God to generically bless all the nations and missionaries.
Assistant Professor of Women's Ministry
I have sought to prioritize knowing the God of the Bible for who He says He is and not creating a god of my own making. The way to do this is by reading Scripture faithfully. Back in the garden, the serpent challenged the woman with the question, "Did God actually say ...?" (Gen. 3:1). There are many ideas and philosophies floating about that have set themselves up against the knowledge of God. I need to be able to have an answer for this same question today when these godless ideas and despair seek to take refuge in my heart.
Associate Professor of Theology
I always begin my personal reading of Holy Scripture with a prayer asking that the Lord grant me understanding of what the Holy Spirit has "written for us" (Rom. 15:4) through the biblical authors in the Old and New Testaments, the one Word of God. I keep the prayer concise and to the point, as its sole purpose is to preface my study of Scripture. An example of one passage I pray regularly is Psalm 119:33–34, "Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart."
Such prayerful pleas before scriptural reading are fitting due to the Spirit-inspired nature of Scripture's origin and content that we confess (2 Tim. 3:16–17; 2 Pet 1:20–21; 1 Cor 2:12–14).
This prayer acknowledges that right reading of the Bible cannot (and should not) be done apart from the work of the triune God, and it puts me in the proper posture before Holy Scripture as I seek to engage it in total dependence upon the Lord to grant me the right understanding of the meaning of the biblical text. This is done to prompt me to a faithful response and obedience to God's Word as I walk "in Christ" in godly discipleship.
Dean, Assistant Professor of New Testament and Greek
I have a personal quiet time in the morning and also a time of family worship in the evenings. My personal quiet time involves Bible study and prayer. I typically have a text of Scripture that I am studying more closely while also having a reading plan that covers more material. I have a prayer journal, and I also pray through my church directory.
SCOTT DIXON ’84
Associate Professor of Bible
More than any “how to” tip, one foundational lesson on the purpose and role of the spiritual disciplines has proved life-changing for me. In the book, Formed for the Glory of God about the spiritual practices of Jonathan Edwards, Kyle Strobel warns us of “the great temptation and danger to turn Christian spiritual disciplines into a self-help project” (p. 70). Edwards would describe the practices of Bible reading and prayer (among others) as “means of grace” that orient our hearts and minds properly to God. Powerless in themselves to change us or make us holy, God uses these means to reveal the beauty of his beloved Son. Joy and delight replace drudgery and a checklist mentality as the Spirit enables us to sing with the old songwriter:
Our pleasure and our duty,
Though opposite before,
Since we have seen his beauty,
Are joined apart no more. (John Newton)
RENEWING YOUR MIND
BY JEREMY KIMBLE
Memorizing the Bible has changed my life. Seriously. The best way I have found that I can apply Psalm 1:1–3 and delightfully meditate on God’s Word day and night is by memorizing Scripture. Whether a verse, a whole chapter, or an entire book, memorization is a way to hide God’s Word in our hearts, so that we do not sin against Him (Ps. 119:11).
Several years ago, I was at a conference, and the preacher began his session by quoting the entire book of Philippians. This was such a powerful moment and had a profound impact on me. I had memorized many verses, and even some chapters of the Bible prior to that time, but it was then that I determined I would memorize longer sections of Scripture. So, I began with Philippians a few years back and since then have memorized 1 Peter, Jude, and Titus.
Such a habit renews your mind (Rom. 12:1–2), helps you see the flow of the text, assists you in killing sin, and grants you the ability to minister in an effective and powerful way (Heb. 4:12; 2 Tim. 3:16–17). It is worthwhile.
I have found two strategies that help me memorize Scripture. First, I print off the text I want to memorize, put it in a big Ziploc bag, and clothespin it to my shower curtain. That may sound strange, but it is a way to use that time for memorizing Scripture. Second, as I walk to work each day I say what I know, reviewing the passage as I walk.
Make memorization a part of your daily routine. Start by memorizing one verse and then add related verses or other Scripture from the same chapter, read the passage often, study the book that contains the passage, review it regularly, and say it aloud to yourself and others. Memorizing God’s Word is a profoundly powerful habit that leads to a deeper knowledge of God and provides a way to make Him known to others.
Jeremy Kimble is Associate Professor of Theology and Director of the Center for Biblical Integration. He earned his Ph.D. in Theological Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
BY ROB WYNALDA
Education professionals say that your ability to retain information is often directly related to the method of learning. They would say that a person who simply listens to a lecture retains a surprisingly small percentage of the content delivered. Yet, when a person hears information and, at the same time, if they can physically participate with the lecturer (i.e., taking notes or discussion), their retention rate vastly improves.
In Deuteronomy 17, God gives instructions to the future kings of Israel: “And it shall be, when he sits upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write himself a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life” (vv.18–19) Wow! The most important man in Israel is instructed to sit and handwrite his very own copy of the law.
As we think about learning styles and retention rates, it makes perfect sense that God would want the king to handwrite his very own copy of the law. As the leader of God’s people, he needed to retain the law and learn to live and to govern in reaction to the Word of God.
If you are struggling with focus during your devotions, I would challenge you to get a piece of paper and simply write out the verses you are reading. You will be pleasantly surprised how the slowing of the pace and the added focus needed to copy the text may help you wrestle with and apply God’s Word to your life.
God follows His command to write, carry, and read the law with the benefits for the king and the nation. May we enjoy these benefits as well: “He may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel” (Deut. 17:19b–20).
Rob Wynalda is President of Wynalda Litho, Inc. and a member of the Cedarville University Board of Trustees. He is also the creator of the Journible 17:18 Bible journal series.
THE BIG PICTURE OF THE BIBLE
BY BILLY MARSH
One central goal I have for my personal time in Scripture is to grow in my understanding of the meaning and purpose of whole books of the Bible. Perhaps another way to put this is that I’m always guarding against getting lost in the trees, even if I keep walking slowly through the forest.
I believe that biblical authors inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:20–21) convey their intended meaning through the composition of an entire book. Therefore, if I want to understand individual verses or passages or even chapters, then I need to first grasp a sense of the whole. I will engage in “fast reading” where I'll read through a book of the Bible quickly several times before engaging in “slow reading.”
“Fast Reading” helps me get a sense of a biblical author’s intended meaning for the entire book that will then guide me as I “slow down” to study the book piece by piece. A sense of the whole is essential for making sense of the parts.
All in all, Romans 15:4 shapes my approach: “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” It is through understanding what was actually “written” that we faithfully read Holy Scripture as “written for us” whereby the triune God encourages and strengthens us for endurance in the Christian life by faith with real Gospel hope.
Billy Marsh is Director of M.Div. Programs and Associate Professor of Theology. He earned his Ph.D. in systematic theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.