Thank you for the invitation to post and the instructions for blogging. This enabled me to refresh and consolidate my various blogs and user names to the end of presenting a consistent, accurate, truthful account of just how important Quiet Time (as it was called by Anne Ripley Smith, the Oxford Group, and Rev. Sam Shoemaker), the Quiet Hour (as it was called by United Christian Endeavor Society of which Dr. Bob was an active participant in his younger years), and the Morning Watch (as the YMCA and others called it, basing it on some Biblical verses stressing the watch, the watchman, morning prayer, and morning "meditation.")
You can find foundational, helpful, and pristine verses on prayer, guidance, Bible study, morning prayer and meditation, the new birth, revelation, and pertinent guides the pioneers used - by looking in the Bible. For example, the verses in Proverbs 3:5-6, were often cited and followed.
As with so many ideas of diverse origin and disputes, the idea of how to seek and find and obey the will of God has been misstated, re-written, distorted, and shortened.As revealed by my 18 years of research into the Biblical history and roots of Alcoholics Anonymous, all of early A.A.'s basic ideas were taken from their study of the Bible. So stated Dr. Bob. And he stressed Bible study, prayer, and seeking the guidance of his Heavenly Father, our Creator.
This matter is covered in much detail in two of my books--Good Morning: Quiet Time, Morning Watch, Meditation and Early A.A., and also Anne Smith's Journal, 1933-1939. In fact, it was Anne who regularly held quiet times for AAs and their families each morning early and at the Smith home in Akron.
You can look at the essentials in a couple of different ways; and they are definitely different in purpose and content:
First, what are the essentials of the process?
(a)Being born again of the spirit of God.
(b)Opening with prayer.
(c) Studying the Bible.
(d) Engaging in specific prayer as a group for guidance, forgiveness, thanksgiving, praise, peace, etc.
(e) Asking God for guidance, and checking out the answers for consistency with His written Word, the Good Book.
(f) As a group, there was often sharing and discussion facilitated by a leader such as Anne or Bob or Henrietta Seiberling and using devotionals such as the Upper Room, the Runner's Bible, My Utmost for His Highest, and others as stimulants.
(g) Closing with the Lord's Prayer.
Some people talk or write about "listening to God" and "writing down everything that comes to mind" and "checking" the thoughts with other believers. And this was done on occasion, particularly by Oxford Group members, but certainly not universally. The problem with these shortcuts is that they usually leave out the sine qua non of seeking and receiving revelation from God by "listening" (a new birth--John 3). The proponents of the ideas misunderstand the purpose of prayers and call them "two-way" prayers without realizing that God may not reveal or wish to reveal His particular will in a particular way at a particular time. Moreover, He instructs that believers are to ask in the name of Jesus Christ. And ignored by the human fashioning of a system of 'listening' are the variety of forms of revelation from our Creator Yahweh--by direct address, by angels, by prophets, by Jesus Christ, by the written Word, and by the spirit within the believer. For these many forms reflected by "Thus saith the Lord" and "The word came to ....." as spoken by prophets are not given adequate discussion or explanation or even sometimes any recognition at all. Nor is the fact that the choice of when and how and what is to be revealed is that of our Creator, not the supplicant. Nor is the function of prayer and Bible study covered appropriately. Nor is the importance of praise and thanksgivng. Nor is the minor importance of devotionals (today so often called "meditation" or "reflection" books which sometimes are not remotely related to God, the Bible, the new birth, Jesus Christ, or divine revelation.
Perhaps the best description of a well-conducted individual quiet time is that set forth about Dr. Bob and his prayer sessions three times a day. I'll leave that for your homework. Perhaps the best description of a group quiet time is that set forth by Dr. Bob's kids and in Anne Smith's Journal. Again! You do the digging.
Quite apart from the Biblical injunctions are suggested rules, which ignore the fact that we often need God the most, seek Him and His peace the most, and find ourselves doing turning to Him the most in the middle of a muddle. And here the Big Book itself covers the last point quite well up to a point.
The other aspect of suggested "meditation" practices are not necessarily required and may not even be Biblical in base. But here are some of the suggestions you will find described in Good Morning for historical accuracy: (a) Seek a quiet place. Not in a meeting? Not on a bus? (b)Get in a relaxed position. Standing in a circle or seated in a group or cross-legged on the floor? (c) Get quiet yourself. In the middle of a firestorm? (d) Write down every thought that comes to mind. Where is that found in the Bible? And who wants the garbage lists that often resulted from the practice? (e) "Check" your thoughts for propriety with another believer if you are in doubt. Which thoughts? What believer? And where in the Bible is that found as a mandate? Suppose they come from a prophet, an angel, God Himself, or Jesus Christ? Cross check them? (f) Clean house first because you can't see through a dirty window. How about the many verses in Psalms which say in effect: The poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and delivered him from all his troubles? (g) What about the necessity for believing in God, coming to Him through Jesus Christ, discovering first what His Word says as to prayer and seeking wisdom and revelation, recognizing that without obedience and fellowship, the supplicant may be heading upstream without a paddle, a map, or a compass?
Little known is the fact that Bill Wilson once said he felt that much was lost when A.A. abandoned quiet time. He and Lois did his variety of it for many years, and he even composed a prayer they used. Bob and Anne were relentless in their observations of the importance of Quiet Time. And underlying it all is the Bible itself. Take away the Bible; take away our Heavenly Father; take away Jesus Christ; take away the gift of the Holy Spirit; and you have little or nothing that resembles early A.A. quiet time except personal opinion and the doctrines of men, not God.
God Bless, Dick B. firstname.lastname@example.org