Hearing God in Your Quiet Time
by ROBBY GALLATY
WHEN I WAS A NEW BELIEVER, I used the O.P.R.A. technique for reading the Bible: I would randomly Open the Bible, Point to a passage, Read the verse, and try to figure out a way to Apply it to my life. Thankfully, I didn’t land on the Scripture that says, “He [speaking of Judas Iscariot] went and hanged himself” (Matt. 27:5). Reading random Scriptures will not provide solid biblical growth any more than eating random foods out of your pantry will provide solid physical growth. An effective reading plan is needed.
My wife, Kandi, and I, along with the help of our Replicate Ministries team, developed a reading plan called Foundations: A 260-Day Bible Reading Plan for Busy Believers. This devotional book is a 260-day reading plan that highlights the foundational passages of Scripture every disciple should know. In order to digest more of the Word, the plan encourages believers to read less and to keep a H.E.A.R. journal.
Journal. The H.E.A.R. journaling method promotes reading the Bible with a life-transforming purpose. No longer will your focus be on checking off the boxes on your daily reading schedule; your purpose will, instead, be to read in order to understand and respond to God’s Word.
The acronym H.E.A.R. stands for Highlight, Explain, Apply, and Respond.1 Each of these four steps contributes to creating an atmosphere to hear God speak. After settling on a reading plan and establishing a time for studying God’s Word, you will be ready to H.E.A.R. from God.
Before reading the text, pause to sincerely ask God to speak to you as David prayed: “Open my eyes so that I may contemplate wonderful things from Your instruction” (Ps. 119:18).
Highlight. Open your journal and write the letter H. This will remind you to read with a purpose. In the course of your reading, one or two verses will usually stand out and speak to you. Highlight each verse that speaks to you by copying the following information under the letter H.
- The name of the book
- The passage of Scripture
- The chapter and verse numbers that especially speak to you
- A title to describe the passage
Explain. Write the letter E under the previous entry. With the help of God’s Spirit, you will explain what the text means by asking some simple questions:
- Why was this written?
- To whom was it originally written?
- How does it fit with the verses before and after it?
- Why did the Holy Spirit include this passage in the book?
- What is He communicating through this text?
Apply. Next, write the letter A. The application is the heart of the process. Answer a series of questions to uncover the personal significance these verses hold for you. These questions bridge the gap between the ancient world and your world today. Let God speak to you as you write two to five sentences about how the text applies to your life.
- How can this help me?
- What does this mean today?
- What would the application of this verse look like in my life?
- What does this mean to me?
- What is God saying to me?
Respond. Finally, write R. Your response to the passage may take on many forms. You may write a call to action. You may describe how you will be different because of what God has said to you through His Word. You may write a prayer to God, for example, asking Him to help you be more loving or to create in you a desire to be more generous. Keep in mind that this is your response to what you have just read.
Notice all of the words in the H.E.A.R. formula are action words. God does not want us to sit back and wait for Him to drop some truth into our laps; He desires that we actively pursue Him. Jesus said, “Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you” (Matt. 7:7).
ROBBY GALLATY is the senior pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee. He completed a Master of Divinity degree in expository preaching and a Ph.D. in preaching at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Robby is the author of Growing Up: How to Be a Disciple Who Makes Disciples and Foundations: A 260-Day Bible Reading Plan for Busy Believers. Robby and his wife, Kandi, are intentional about investing in their sons, Rig and Ryder.
This article appears in Mature Living magazine (January 2016). For more articles like this, subscribe to Mature Living.