"You are my place of quiet retreat; I wait for your Word to renew me."
Recently I've been opening up more about my personal devotions, my daily quiet time. For the last year and a half I've kept it very personal as I've slowly, finally figured out what works for me. Ya'll, it is so important to find the style that works for you. I spent years reading and re reading the Bible. Sure I got some things out of it but I was reading it for the sake of reading it. I wasn't hiding it in my heart, I wasn't letting the words sink into my soul to renew me. I read my five chapters and closed it for tomorrow, marking off books of the Bible like a to-do list. For years I battled with spending daily time in the Word but then dropping it for weeks at a time because I couldn't get myself back into the groove. On and off again.
That all changed at the end of November 2016 when I finally began the journey to find what clicked. I remember feeling down about my quiet time. I'd been taught better on all of my mission trips but it just never clicked. Then one day via Pinterest I found a new quiet time style. What it is, is a short passage ranging from one verse to usually under ten verses. It's usually organized by topical studies from Rest, Comfort, Joy, Love, and so forth. They usually come in lists of 30ish to last you a month.
So you take your passage for the day and you write it out, that is where the journal comes in (Some had asked about my quiet time journal, I'll explain it more later).
I have found that when I write out verses, they tend to stick better. I hear the words better and more deeply than when I solely read it. I doubt I'm the only one guilty of reading the Bible as I'm thinking about my weekend to-do list, am I right?
At first I just wrote the verses and closed my journal. I kept up with my daily Bible reading, it might not always stick but it's still SO important. This went on for a couple weeks and I realized I still wasn't really getting much out of it other than a cramped hand. That's when I slowed down and thought about the words I was writing. Then once I was done writing that, I wrote out what my thoughts were. What was God speaking to me through this passage? How can I apply this to my life right now?
From that day on it's grown and grown and become this beautiful time I spend in the Word.
After awhile I added prayer journaling to the mix and this year I added scripture memorization.
We should be always growing, always learning. Never stop expanding your times of quiet with your Lord.
So why journaling? Can't I just do it all in my head?
But I've been able to look back over the last year and a half at my journals and physically see my progress. To see where I recorded my battles and my victories, my questions and my answers, my prayer requests and my praises.
I don't do it every day, probably between 4-7 times a week. Some weeks are good and others it is a struggle. I've had to learn to give myself grace. I used to get so worked up over missing a day, maybe it was because I was afraid to go back to the ruts of the past. Those ruts where I neglected my daily devotions for weeks at a time. But I learned to give myself grace and now I don't go more than two days without doing it. I don't worry about my dates matching up perfectly with the days on the passage lists. I do them when I can.
So what's my format? That's the fun part, for me anyways!
1) Date and what # day I'm on of which study.
2) I write out my weekly memory verse
3) Now I write out the passage for the day
4) Then I write my thoughts, what did I get from it? What is God speaking to me about this passage?
5) I then write out my prayer. Usually it is about what I just learned but I also pray for lots of other things. I think that is it's own blog post right there.
I always add a prayer requests page then on the back I add the answered prayers page. It's cool to see how God has answered my prayers over the last year.
I like to keep things organized and bright so I use different color pens for each different section in my journal.
Here is the fun part. If you have access to a printer or printing at office max, I print out small pics to put in the front cover of my journal. It's a nice way to keep reminding me of the encouraging things for my season that I'm in. It's always different so the pictures change from each journal. The top picture is of my current journal and the bottom one is of my next journal that I should be starting in the next weekish. ( I find most of these from Pinterest).
It's just so important to find what works for you. I've grown so much spiritually this last year. The verse at the top of this post is so true. God is my place of quiet retreat, I go there for Him to renew me. And I so desperately need it and crave it. And He so graciously offers it to me.