Over the next year I am going to offer a weekly guide for solitude on my blog. Below is an introduction. The guide begins on the first Monday of the year (January 7, 2013). Over the next three days I will post an introduction to the guide.
During the past several years I have experimented with various methods and techniques to enhance what has been called Quiet Time, Devotions, Study, or Solitude. My quest to make this time effective has led me to utilize inductive study guides, devotional literature, Bible reading charts and prayer journals. In each case I have experienced some successes and some frustrations.
This has led me to the conclusion that there is perhaps no ultimate program that fits everyone in every situation in life.
I found myself hampered because my heritage in the churches of Christ did not prepare me to develop regular devotional habits. To be sure, my father, like many church of Christ members in his generation was in the habit of reading the Scriptures regularly—but there was no systematic approach to his habit. It usually centered on what was being studied in the local congregation at the time. And since we did not follow a lectionary, even that was a hit or miss sort of thing.
Furthermore, private prayer and many of the other disciplines like fasting and silence were not heavily promoted among our people. While we were a people of study my impression was that we tended to avoid anything that seemed to edge toward pietism or appeared to be emotionally driven. While children were always encouraged to be “daily Bible readers” precious few tools were provided and there was no mention of the other classic disciplines.
The closest thing to a guide for prayer or solitude I ever saw was a devotional booklet printed every three months. It consisted of a scripture reference, a devotional paragraph and a brief prayer.
What has frustrated me the most is the lack of materials made available for people within or related to my own “restoration heritage.” I wanted to find material that would stretch me to pray and meditate in solitude—but also challenge me to read the text. But I also wanted material that did not rely heavily on someone else’s devotional thoughts (which usually had little to do with the actual selected text). I wasn’t interested in reading someone else’s commentary on the text. I wanted to hear God speak through his word—not someone else.
This is my attempt to provide a weekly guide for daily solitude for those who, like me, are searching for an approach to spending time with God that would encourage me to not only listen to God through the text, but also spend time with him through prayer and meditation.