The most important discovery I ever made about the daily quiet time is that God provides a wealth of instant help. By “instant,” I mean – always available, whenever we want it, whenever we ask. As we read the Bible, we have the awesome privilege of asking God to make it come alive in our hearts.
There is a difference between casually reading the Bible during our quiet times and a more intensive Bible study. The focus of this article and this website is the daily quiet time. The suggestions below are not intended to take the place of digging deeper and applying good principles of interpretation. And I strongly believe in surrounding ourselves with good Bible teachers and scholarly resources. But no matter when we approach the Scriptures, we should develop the habit of asking for God’s help, as is modeled in Psalm 119.
If you want to get the most from your daily Bible reading, consider adding some, or all, of the following 7 prayer requests to your quiet time.
1. “Teach me.”
Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law! (Psalm 119:29)
At least 8 times in Psalm 119, the writer asks God to be his teacher. Have you ever wondered what kind of teacher God would be? Would He emphasize the best points? Would He make it relevant? What about His command of the material? After all, it is His law.
If you wanted to learn to play the guitar or fly an airplane or be a surgeon, can you imagine the advantage of having the most accomplished person in that field as your personal tutor?
God’s resources are infinitely better. He doesn’t just know truth. He is truth. As we read God’s Word, there is wisdom in asking Him to be our teacher. (see also Psalm 119:12,26,29,33,64,66,108,171)
2. “Give me understanding.”
Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments. (Psalm 119:73)
Our Creator knows us inside and out. He understands how our hearts and minds are wired. And He’s aware of our passions and hopes. More than anyone, He sees our greatest need at this very moment. When it comes to our individual styles of learning, He always knows how best to impress His truths upon our hearts. The author of the Bible is the Creator of our souls. Who better to help us understand what He wants us to learn today? (see also Psalm 119: 27,34,125,144,169)
3. “Strengthen me.”
My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word! (Psalm 119:28)
Our lives are filled with many trials. Difficult circumstances can tempt us to disregard God’s Word. In those moments, we need His life-giving love and mercy to continue walking in obedience. Some days we need it just to open the Bible. On our worst days, our most eloquent prayer might simply be “Help!” Remember that in good times or bad, we are equally in need of the counsel of God’s Word. (see also Psalm 119:25,40,88,156)
4. “Open my eyes.”
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. (Psalm 119:18)
Looking back, I see that I spent many years trying to read the Bible with my eyes closed. I read it as a goal to be checked off of a list. I read it out of compulsion. I read it selfishly, trying to see what was in it for me. But I rarely read it just to behold the wonder and glory of God. This verse provides a backdrop for what I discuss in My Journey: Getting Personal With God. It tells me that there are wonderful things to discover in the Bible. But it also tells me that I am dependent upon God to see them. For those reasons, I have been praying it daily for several years. And God has been faithful to answer. This has truly become a life verse for me.
5. “Incline my heart.”
Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! (Psalm 119:36)
I used to think that our spiritual growth depended entirely upon practicing certain disciplines. But the problem is that our flesh is wired for the world. As new creatures in Christ, we still struggle with the sin nature. And if we try to walk in our own strength, we will naturally lean toward our selfish desires. So we must ask God to give us the desire to live out what we read in the Bible. For me, this has been a liberating discovery. It’s a prayer request that always honors God. Do you want your heart to beat in rhythm with God’s Word? Ask Him to make it so.
6. “Turn my eyes.”
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things, and give me life in your ways. (Psalm 119:37)
Following Christ in the 21st century is a lot like surfing the internet. We have an idea of where we want to go. But we often end up somewhere else. The problem is not with Christ. It’s with our lack of focus. We don’t realize how prone we are to distractions.
The enemy is not passive. The interruptions are not an accident. Satan studies you and develops an advertising campaign to lure you in. And I’m not just referring to sin. He loves to waste your time with information and activities that serve no eternal purpose.
As you walk the obstacle course of life, ask God to turn your eyes from the worthless things that amount to nothing in the end. Ask that your focus be on His life-giving ways instead.
7. “Keep steady my steps.”
Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me. (Psalm 119:133)
In Genesis 4, God warns of the controlling nature of sin. It crouches at the door, waiting to catch us off-guard. Sin doesn’t just fill us with regret and guilt. It seeks to own us.
I’m amazed at how thin the line can be between a healthy pleasure and an enslaving addiction. The things that bring us the greatest joy in life can also destroy us. How do we have balance? How do we know when moderation moves to excess? How do we walk with wisdom?
Since both paths can often look deceptively similar, we need God’s guidance with each step. Knowing God’s Word is essential to choosing the right path. And having God’s hand as we walk keeps us from falling off course.
God is our greatest ally in understanding and applying His Word. And His help is always available. Ask God to transform your quiet times and your life as you pray these requests from Psalm 119. Here are some suggestions:
- For each of the next 7 days, pray one of these verses before reading the Bible.
- Think about which verse is most needed in your life right now, and commit it to memory.
- Pray these same requests for others, such as your spouse, your children, or a pastor.
How do you see these verses making a difference in your devotional life? Let me know in the comments section below.