Anyway, so Mum asked about the format of my fantastic quiet time. Its a format that I have been working on for a while, trying to find something that works. There are three key elements.
The first is the intro. I have a great love of poetry, and I find such connection in it, so I begin by reading a poem. I have a book called "Essential New Zealand Poems" and every night I read one. The absolute Key to my quiet time is that I have stopped putting pressure on myself for everything to mean something. I just read it, and let it be what it is. I like it/I don't like it/I connect with it/I don't connect with it. Whatever, it just links for me the world of my ordinary life, and the world of my relationship with God. So I read one poem, ONLY one. If I REALLY like something, I might underline it, and sometimes a line from the poem might stick, and then it gets written in my bible. "What he sees in my meandering mind I do not know" (James K. Baxter) was a sticker. It's written in there above Joel 2.
Part two is the Prayer. I'm not naturally a prayer. That is, I have the attention span of a butterfly. I can maintain prayer for about 2.5 min on my own. Much better with other people. But pre written prayers REALLY help me. Psalms are just the best prayers I ever pray. Basically any song. So finally I thought, what's wrong with that? Maybe its not ideal, but it REALLY works for me. I have found this amazing book of prayers called "A Diary of Private Prayer" (John Baillie). They are beautifully written and intensely challenging. I can pray them with ALL my heart. I have never had such a real prayer life. So that's part two.
Part three is the Bible. Again, the key is letting it be what it is. I have a pen. I have a bible. I read one section a night. ONLY one, even if its only two verses. I read it, REALLY read it. If I think something is strange, I put a question mark by it. If it's great it gets an exclamation mark. I write things in the margin, I underline ANYTHING that strikes me in any way. I really READ. I don't try to apply it to me, I don't try to get the message. I READ it, and LISTEN to it. What does it SAY. Not what is the message, is it meaningful, anxiously trying to see what secret message God is trying to convey to me. I just read it. And, of course, I get more out of the bible than I ever have. I finally hear its voice. I see themes, I hear echoes, I see it work itself in to my being, into my life. Ah yes, finally it has meaning, now that I've stopped trying to give it meaning. What a relief.
So I read a poem, a prayer and a section. Not a random section either. I read through books, and through genres. I have read through the New testament, Job and now through the Minor Prophets. Jonah is hands down the strangest book I have ever read. Read it one day, without your Sunday School Glasses on. It is just the most ridiculous story. What it means I don't know yet, but it certainly struck me. It takes practice, this reading without the self induced internal pressure, but I am getting the hang of it. It takes a while for the meanings to sink in with me, that's what I've discovered through this process. I wont get it tonight, or tomorrow night, but maybe next week I will realize what these words mean.
I also write my own poetry somewhere in there (which you can read here) and most nights I read a section out of a great devotional that my Mum gave me "Water from the Rock". It sounds like a cliche but its crazy how often all of the elements combine and speak to me with one Voice.
So this is my format, apologies for the long windedness.