George Müller, a man of deep and earnest prayer, gives some helpful advice on personal devotions and advice for time spent alone with God.
He found that “the most important thing was to concentrate on first reading the Bible [and] meditating on the chosen portion:
That thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, by the means of the Word of God, whilst meditating upon it, my heart might be brought into [conscious or experienced] communion with the Lord….
The first thing I did (early in the morning), after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon His precious Word, was, to begin to meditate on the Word of God, searching, as it were, into every verse to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon; but for the sake of obtaining food for my soul.
The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that, though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer….
With this mode I have likewise combined the being out in the open air for an hour, an hour and a half, or two hours before breakfast, walking about in the fields, and in the summer sitting for a while on little [benches], if I find it too much to walk all the time.
I find it very beneficial to my health to walk thus for meditation before breakfast, and am now so in the habit of using up the time for that purpose, that when I get in the open air, I generally take out a New Testament of good-sized type, which I carry with me for that purpose, besides my Bible: and I find that I can profitably spend my time in the open air, which formerly was not the case for want of habit….
The difference, then, between my former practice and my present one is this. Formerly, when I rose, I began to pray as soon as possible, and generally spent all my time till breakfast in prayer, or almost all the time….
But what was the result?
I often spent a quarter of an hour, or half an hour, or even an hour on my knees, before being conscious to myself of having derived comfort, encouragement, humbling of soul, etc; and often, having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, or even half an hour, I only then really began to pray.
I scarcely ever suffer now in this way. For my heart being nourished by the truth, being brought into [conscious or experienced] fellowship with God, I speak to my Father, and to my Friend (vile though I am, and unworthy of it!) about the things that He has brought before me in His precious Word.
It often now astonishes me that I did not sooner see this point.”
– George Müller, as recorded in Delighted in God by Roger Steer (Christian Focus Publications, 1997), 91-92.