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Pieces of Paper

How I Customize My Quiet Time
Emily Miller

I’m a bit difficult. Devotionals, study guides, and other people suggesting ideas for how to have a quiet time have always been hard (or just really boring) for me to implement. So, over the years of having my quiet time, I’ve come up with a few techniques that keep me engaged with what I’m reading and help me remember what I’ve read as I go on with the rest of the day.
When I first started my daily quiet time, I began collecting pieces of paper in my Bible. This soon became one of my favorite ways to think more deeply about what I’m reading during my quiet time. Basically, it helped me to tie the Bible more tightly together in my mind. I began with three pieces of paper labeled: Attributes, Thanks, and Purity. Over the years I added four other topics: Kingdom, Think About, Names of God, and Names of Christians. Once I fill up one of these pieces of paper, I throw it out and start a new one.

Attributes: This is where I write out scripture verses from my quiet time that tell me something about God: His character, His power, His feelings, His actions, etc.
Writing down Who God is, reminds me that the Bible is all about God (not me). It leads me to know and appreciate Him for Himself (not what I get out of Him). Writing down attributes of God from Genesis to Revelation helps me see the whole picture of Who God is. For instance, it has helped me realize that the Old Testament God is NOT wildly different from the New Testament God.

Thanks: This paper is for scripture verses that fill me with hope, gratitude, and praise.
I’m not by nature a very positive, hopeful, or thankful person. If I’m not careful, my relationship with Jesus easily becomes completely me-centered, self-pitying, and sad. Collecting what I’m thankful for about Jesus, His promises, and the reality of what He’s done for me takes my eyes off me and onto Him, and I’m much better off when that happens!

Purity: This paper is full of reminders of the type of person I am called to be as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
When I was younger this easily became a list of rules that fueled both my pride and my discouragement according to how well I kept the standards I wrote down. Now that I’m older, I’ve grown in my understanding of the Gospel, and my “Purity” page has become a refreshing reminder of who God made me and is restoring me to be. I fail, but God never fails, and He’s sanctifying me! These collected verses now mainly help shape my definitions of righteousness, justice, love, and grace, and guard me from bringing my own definition to those words. I want to submit to being shaped by God’s word instead of imposing my own sometimes warped and often shallow values on scripture. 

Kingdom: I added this paper as I started to see the storyline of the whole Bible building to the return of King Jesus and the restoration of all His creation. The Kingdom page is filled with all the promises of Jesus’s return, God’s judgment of evil (and all who choose evil over Him), and the reward which awaits those who are not ashamed of the real Jesus of the Bible.
The Kingdom page reminds me that the Bible is not only a fascinating history and guide for our present lives but also a foretelling of our future. This helps me move my focus to what God thinks about me, the world I live in, and what will happen when He returns. Recognizing His Kingdom and Jesus’s reign as the Eternal King gives me purpose, endurance, and hope while we wait for Him.

Think About: Though all the papers I’ve mentioned above are filled with direct Bible quotes, my “Think About” paper is full of my own thoughts on the passage of scripture I’m currently reading. Recording these thoughts not only forces me to think about what a passage means but how it is relevant to my life. 

Names of God: Simply, in this paper, I collect the Names which describe Who God is based on the text I’m reading. Sometimes it’s super obvious like “Yahweh (Lord)”, “Jesus”, and “Living Water”. But other times it requires me to look at how God is being shown in the text and come up with a title to describe Him like “Coming King,” “Deliverer,” “Guide,” etc.
This gives me a quick page of notes of things to praise, remember, and delight in about God: My Coming King, Holy Deliverer, Dearest Friend, Just Judge, etc., etc.

Names of Christians: This paper is filled with sentences that remind me of who I am in Christ: Delivered, Born-Again, the Bride of Christ, etc.
This helps me shape my identity around Jesus and not from what I do well, don’t do well, feel at the moment, or what others think about me in any given circumstance or season of my life. Since I easily forget who I am in God’s thoughts, a paper filled with reminders of my identity in Christ is good for my soul. This also trains me to value fellow followers of Christ and to see all people through the eyes of Jesus and not through my own preferences and opinions.

My ‘paper method’ is customized to me: the way I enjoy learning and the issues that have been important for me to remember and wrestle through. So, this might not work for you at all!
But, if your quiet time is boring, figure out why. Light a candle, make a really good cup of coffee, go on a quiet-time hike, grab a new journal, listen through the Bible as you do dishes, or simply add a few papers to your quiet time. Make your quiet time enjoyable and fruitful. Be creative in training yourself to love the Scriptures and your time with Jesus.

  Emily Miller began having a daily quiet time at the age of 13. This habit has been one of the few constants in her life as she transitioned from being a missionary kid in Mongolia to a barista in Oregon to a stay-at-home mom in central Florida. The Word of God has anchored Emily to Jesus through depression, struggles with doubt, health issues, and her son’s cystic fibrosis.

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