I’m going through the book of Mark in my quiet times and yesterday something stuck out to me. In chapter 4, Jesus is teaching the multitudes of His followers with parables or short stories that communicate a simple message. Can you imagine what it would have been like to hear the voice of Jesus? What a privilege it must have been! Mark says this was an occurrence that happened often:
2 He taught them many things in parables…
33 He would speak the word to them with many parables like these, as they were able to understand. 34 And He did not speak to them without a parable.
However, this was only a part of what Jesus was teaching. Look at the rest of v. 34:
Privately, however, He would explain everything to His own disciples.
Now, who would you rather be? The multitudes were surely blessed to hear from Jesus, but doesn’t it seem the disciples were in a much better position? Not only were they hearing from Jesus, but they had opportunities to spend intimate time with Him when the crowds were not around. Isn’t this a great picture of someone who is truly a disciple? It’s not simply about being there when the crowds are present, but it’s also having the personal relationship with Jesus that extends to moments of solitude.
There are so many reasons why I would urge someone to get alone with God, but I will mention a few that have manifested in my own personal study time:
- I grow in the knowledge of God.
- I come to understand my place in God’s meta-narrative.
- I have a greater sense of my sin and thus, become more dependent upon God.
- I find myself more submissive to God’s plan for my life.
If you’re unsure of how to get alone with God, be creative! No one does things the same. However, it’s essential that there is time for both prayer and the study of God’s Word. Here are few practical suggestions that I’ve implemented into my own life:
- Plan – A schedule forces you to stay on track. That’s why I will write out which passages I’m going to study before the time comes. For example, right now I’ve already written in my calendar the schedule for this month. I’m doing a chapter a day (today, Mark 10; tomorrow, Mark 11). This also means that I Prepare by making sure that my time with the Lord is going to happen and that it’s beneficial. This may sound silly, but I need my coffee in the morning (it helps keep me awake and focused). I do this as well as make sure my bible and journal are out the night before. Finally, as far as planning goes, I make sure I Prioritize by doing my quite times in the morning. This allows me to do it without the stress and concern that comes with the rest of the day.
- Pray – Without the help of God, we cannot fully grasps His Word. Therefore it’s essential that we pray for His guidance during our time with Him. Try praying Psalm 119:33-40.
- Pour over – This means to pour over the Scriptures. Ultimately, the Scriptures are God’s means for communicating His truth to us. If we want to get to know God we must read the letter He has written us.
- Put on – Applying (or “putting on”; Eph. 4:24) the text is important if we are going to benefit from our time with the Lord. People do different things to apply what they’ve learned. I write in a journal to record not only what I’ve learned, but also how that should affect my life.
- Pray (again) – I also pray after I’m finished going through the Scriptures. This helps me to orient my day according to what I’ve just learned to be true from the Word. Also, take time to pray for others during this time.
That may have seemed like a lot, but be creative and do things how they best fit you. The important thing is that we find private time to spend with God in prayer and in His Word.