Fine Tuning TW To Get The Most Out of Your Quiet Time With God
There are a lot of different phrases people use to describe their quiet time with
God (and that was one of them - “Quiet Time”). My favorite phrase is simply “Personal
Devotions.” No matter what you call it, this blog is about fine tuning theWord to
get the most out of your quiet time with God.
The Elements of Personal Devotions
In another blog, I’ve written about the elements of personal devotions. I will not
rewrite here what I’ve already written there. I will, though, list the typical (and
important!) ingredients of what I consider a successful* devotional life. The core
of personal worship revolves around these disciplines:
A Daily Bible Reading
Meditating on & Memorizing Scripture
Bible Notation, Marking, and Journaling
And we could add to that
Reading out of a daily devotional guide
Reading good spiritual material that is warm, illuminating, & biblical in content
TheWord does this in a marvelous and wonderful way.
A Screenshot Model
Take a look at my screenshot. (You can mouseover for a larger view.) I call this
layout “Study Bible II.”
Notice that the screen is divided into thirds. I have a lot of windows arranged here;
so, I will refer to them in their “thirdrant” (not a quadrant, but a thirdrant).
You’ll notice a left thirdrant, a center thirdrant, and a right thirdrant.
The left thirdrant has my Bible window, along with a very reduced Bible search window
(which can be enlarged when necessary, which isn’t very often when I use this particular
layout), and my daily Bible Readings Plan window.
The center thirdrant also has three windows. The top window is a general book window.
It is currently set to the Believer’s Bible Commentary. Those comments move verse
by verse as I move through my Bible reading. The middle window is another general
book window; it is set to the Eerdman’s Dictionary of the Bible. In order to use
this dictionary, all I have to do is click the word from the Bible window (like “grace”
from Prov 1:9, pictured), and the dictionary immediately moves to that entry (“grace”).
Nice. The bottom window in the center thirdrant is a book search window. This maximizes
my dictionary window. How? Well, if I right-click the word “grace” in the dictionary
(or any other general book window), I can immediately search my entire library looking
for the word “grace.” In this particular search, I limited the search to just dictionary
entries: I found 14 entries for the word grace. Now, all I have to do is hover over
the search results of each dictionary, and I can read/scan the articles on “grace”
in a very convenient popup window. Easy! and fast.
The right thirdrant has four windows; but only two of them are visible. The bottom
window of the right thirdrant is another general book window showing the notes/commentary
for the NKJV (this is a commentary; not a translation of the Bible). There are two
floating windows at the top right of the screen. They show two important general
books that are only available right here at the DDT website: a memory verse module
and a prayer list module. Underneath those floating windows is one more general book
window: this one is my Daily Devotions window set to Paul Enns’ excellent Approaching
God daily devotional reader.
That is my devotional layout that I call “Study Bible II.” Now let me show you how
I use it.
Before we go any further, though, you should read these blog posts (if you haven’t
already) prior to working through the rest of the information in this blog.
No, I’m not a Methodist; I am an Independent Baptist. But I am, though, methodistic,
when it comes to personal Bible study! That’s because I have a method that I methodically
use (and not because of any affiliation I have with John Wesley - which I don’t).
What I’m about to tell you is my method; and how I use TW to implement it. Then I’ll
show you how to build the layout.
My devotional time starts with the reading of The Scriptures. I like to read through
the Bible every year, and the Book of Proverbs every month. So I just click my reading(s)
for the day, and read my Bible.
While I’m reading, I like to look for a verse or passage to add to my Bible memory
work. So, if I find something to memorize, I move it to the memory verse floating
If I have any questions I want to research while I’m reading, I can quickly consult
two of my brief commentaries that I have synced with my Bible. I can also quickly
hit the letter “L” on the keyboard to call up my commentary links. Every commentary
that is installed is quickly at my fingertips!
If I want to write anything in my personal notes, I use the book view in the bottom
right thirdrant. I just click my notes (“My Verse-notes” are synced to Bible verses,
just like a commentary; “My Subject-notes” are alphabetized by topic) to make a journal
I don’t typically do any “Scripture searching” while having devotions; but if something
comes to mind that I want to research, I can simply maximize the Bible search window
that is in the left thirdrant.
Once all of my Bible reading is finished, I click the check box in the Reading plans
window. IMPORTANT: It is at this point -and only at this point - that I save my
layout. I call this layout “Study Bible II”.
My next task is to work on Bible memory and meditation. I drag the bottom of the
memory verse window to the bottom of the screen so that it fills the entire left
thirdrant, and go to work on my verses. I have 40 verses lists (dailys, weeklies
for every day of the week, monthlies for every day of the month, and quarterlies).
Every day I work the dailys, the weeklies for the day of the week, and the monthlies
for the day of the month. Once every three months I review the quarterly verses.
Once that is finished, I close the “My Memory-verses” floating window.
Next up is prayer time. My “My Prayer-list” is now at the top right of the screen.
It was floating under the memory verse window. Praying for the daily, weekly, and
monthly requests are as easy as a mouseover. Editing the prayer lists is as simple
as a mouse click. You’ll be able to spend more time praying because you’re spending
less time managing your list. Yesss! When I finish praying, I simply close this floating
My final devotional task is to read from my “daily devotional” reader. The window
that was exposed when the prayer list window was closed is my devotional window.
Closing the bottom window in the right thirdrant will allow the daily devotional
window to take up the whole column - just about the right amount of space to see
an entire entry in many/most of the TW daily devotional guides.
Click the “...readings for today” button (or the “Tools / Daily Readings ...” menu).
The “Daily Readings” tool will automatically open. Since it always remembers its
last position, I’ve moved it into the center thirdrant. It looks like it belongs
there! I’m now ready to read however many daily devotionals I want to read. IMPORTANT:
since only one book window can be active at a time, you should activate your daily
devotional window by clicking in it once prior to choosing your daily devotional
readings. If you don’t do this correctly, you’ll think your devotional reader tool
is not working, when in reality it is opening the daily readings in the bottom left
window (which was the last active book window).
The Great Thing About This
is how everything is integrated together. I can check a commentary in conjunction
with a daily devotional reading simply by clicking the devotional reference. The
Bible moves to that reference - and so does the commentary! The Dictionaries (and
all of the general book windows) are ready for “right click finding” in any of the
windows. There are no “closed off compartments.” Everything is integrated and ready
Building the Layout
Let’s start by opening pre-defined layout #7 “Advanced 1.” Close the lower Bible
window. Now let’s save this as your Devotional Layout. Click the layout button and
save this with a new name (again, I call mine “Study Bible II” but you can call yours
anything you like). Now the real setup begins.
Dock** the Bible window to the left thirdrant. Now the hardest part of the setup
begins: configuring your Bible options. There are literally hundreds of different
ways to configure your Bible window. I’ll show you how my “Study Bible II” is configured;
then you’ll be on your own to experiment. Click the “Bible Options Gear” (or CTRL-o)
and follow along:
“Font colors and styles” - I’ve chosen a “default background color” to make the Bible
window stand out from the others. I’ve turned off “Show header and footer” and also
“Show words of Jesus in different color.”
“General behavior...” - I don’t use “compare” in this layout (the column would be
too narrow, even if I wanted to use it). Set the general options as you want.
“Paragraphs and headings” - set these as you want.
“Strong’s...” - I like having Strong’s available - but hidden. So check “Show Strong’s
numbers” and “Instead of showing...”. Also check “Show no link, just show in a popup...”.
Now you’ll not see the Strong’s info unless you hover the mouse over the English
“Morphology” - I don’t do any Greek/Hebrew work while having devotions. If you do,
then set the morphology codes as you wish.
“Footnotes and Cross-references” - uncheck “Show translator’s footnotes/inline notes”
and also “Show cross-references.” When you want to see the cross references, just
type the letter “x” in the Bible window. (Note: to choose cross reference options,
select the “show cross-references” box; select the rest of the options, then unselect
the “show cross-references box” again.) You can toggle the cross references on/off
in the Bible window simply by typing an “x”.
“Commentary links” - You’ll leave this unselected, and simply type a lower case “L”
in the verse to view the commentary links. But to set the options, select the “Show
commentary links...” option, then which commentaries you want to view. Remember:
you can toggle the links on/off in the Bible window simply by typing a lower case
“L”. ALSO: I already have two commentaries (Believer’s Bible Commentary & NKJV Study
Notes) in their own dedicated windows. They don’t need to be in the chosen links
“Inline commentaries” - unselect this.
“Word lookup dictionaries” - Since this is my devotional Study Bible, I only have
a few dictionaries activated. Choose the Webster, and one or two good Bible dictionaries
(ISBE, ATSBD, etc.). That’s all I need for devotional time. ALSO: I already have
the Eerdman’s Dictionary in it’s own dedicated window. It should not be selected
as one of the “word lookup dictionaries.”
“Word click options” - check them all
“General options” - I have that number set to 750. If you find the popups sluggish,
use a lower number. If the popups keep popping up when you don’t want them to, insert
a larger number.
Good News: that’s the hardest part of this project!
Next, add a book view to the left thirdrant. Click “F12”. Then dock the new window
that just appeared to the lower left thirdrant. This will be your Bible reading plan
window. Load your current Bible reading plan; and move to “list view” for today’s
date. Then close the topic tree. Now you can shrink this window just so that you
can see today’s reading. Then, as you finish each day’s reading, simply scroll the
line down to the next date.
Now click “F10” to add a Bible search window. Dock it in between the Bible window
and the Bible reading plan window. Shrink this window so that only the title bar
is visible. If during your devotional reading you decide to do a scripture search,
you can quickly 1) maximize; or 2) resize this window. I rarely perform a Bible search
during devotional reading - but I occasionally do want to use it. So I leave it here
- out of the way but ready to work.
Your left thirdrant is now finished.
The middle thirdrant is easy. Dock two more book views (“F12”) into the middle column.
The higher window is a succinct verse by verse commentary - I have found the Believer’s
Bible Commentary works excellently in this fashion. Make sure this window is “linked”
“...even if inactive.” That way it will always keep up with where the Bible view
is. The lower book window is my dictionary window, and the Eerdman’s Dictionary of
the Bible is a great dictionary to use.
The middle thirdrant needs one more window - a Book search view. Click “F9” to add
this, and then dock it to the lower section of the middle thirdrant. Here’s how this
little window works: in any book view (but not a Bible view), you can “right click”
a word to get a menu. Then you can perform a “find . . .” search (next to the little
purple book search icon) and search your entire library for a word or phrase. The
book search window will display the results. Then, all you have to do is “mouseover”
the results to see the entire article. It really is fabulous. In this fashion, you
can scan every dictionary in your library quickly. You may want to adjust the settings
in the Book search view (perhaps “subjects” but not “topic content”); but once you
have it set to your liking, well, you’re going to like it!
NOTE: This is a little off-topic; but helpful right here. I have a “module set” of
just dictionaries. This is quite helpful for this purpose. In the Book search settings,
simply choose the dictionary module set and deselect “topic content” - and you can
quickly search your dictionary entries. Very nice indeed! ALSO: You can easily add
your important general books to this set (like I have): especially works like Lewis
Sperry Chafer’s Systematic Theology. TW allows you to mix all of the module types
into these module sets (except for the Bibles, which are there own unique module
You should have two book windows in the right thirdrant. If not, go ahead and add
them (“F12”). The top one is going to be your daily devotional reading. (NOTE: If
you’re going to read more than one daily devotional during your Quiet time, I’ve
found it best to put the one that will appear first on the “...readings for today”
button in this window. Not sure which one that is? Well, push the button! Then, “Choose
Devotionals to read daily”, and select the devotionals you’ll be reading. You’ll
also see that they are in the order that they will appear on the “Daily Readings”
list. Put the first one in the top window in the right thirdrant.) I’ve selected
Paul Enns’ excellent doctrinal devotional Approaching God. But I am also reading
Kenneth Osbeck’s excellent Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories for Personal Devotions
(it is great!). But Enns’ Approaching God is in the window.
The lower window has another Bible commentary. The notes/commentary for the NKJV
is another excellent module to use here - brief, accurate, reverent. Make sure this
window is “linked” “...even if inactive.” That way it will always keep up with where
the Bible view is. ALSO: This is the window I use when journaling; so, make sure
that the NKJV Study Notes, your “My Subject-notes,” and your “My Verse-notes” are
all in the same module set.
Now take a look at all of your frames. Some of us are a little more obsessive than
others. . . . So, do all of the horizontal frames look good? If not, you can tinker
with them until all of the horizontal lines look just right. Once those are right,
save your layout (CTRL-Shift-s).
Now it’s time to add two floating windows. The two floating windows are the same
size; one on top of the daily devotional window, and the other right on top of the
first floating window. Let’s build them one at a time.
Click “Shift-F12” and TW opens a floating book window. Size it so that it sits comfortably
just over the top window in the right thirdrant. Then drag the bottom of the window
up just a little, so that the window is a little smaller than the devotional window.
This window will hold your “My Prayer-list.”
Click “Shift-F12” again, and TW will open another floating window. This window will
hold your “My Memory-verses” module. Drag it right over the prayer page window and
make it the same size. Then drag the entire window down just a little bit, so that
the color bar of the “My Prayer-list” window is just visible, yet the “My Memory-verses”
window is just off of the NKJV window and on top of the prayer list window.
And . . . Ta Daa. This layout is done.
Ready For Personal Devotions
Just to review, here is how I use this layout to have my personal devotions.
I read my daily Bible reading. If I find any verses I want to add to my memory verse
module, I add them. When I finish, I scroll the Bible reading plan down to the next
day. Once the Bible reading plan is set for the next day, I save the layout. This
is the only time the layout gets saved.
I lengthen the “My Memory-verses” window to fill up the right thirdrant, and I work
my verses. When finished, I close this window.
I pray over my prayer list. When finished, I close this window.
I read the daily devotional reading. First, I close the bottom window in the right
thirdrant. Then, I click in the daily devotional window to activate it. Then, I click
on the “...readings for today” dialogue box. Then I click the daily devotional(s)
that I want to read.
Try this method out for a couple of days and see what you think. After that, you’ll
be ready to make personal adjustments, so that this layout will fit with your daily
devotional discipline. Drop me a note and let me know how it is working (or not)
*Personal Devotions ultimately is the cultivation of a relationship with The Creator
of the Universe and Redeemer of my/your soul. While there are tools/methods that
can help that relationship grow, they in themselves do not make, nor grow, a right
relationship with God. The tools/methods in this blog are simply one man (me) telling
others (you) how he has found enjoyment in walking with his God (Jesus Christ).
**Docking windows in TW is easy - and very customizable. Click the arrow at the top
left of the window (on the color bar) and choose which column (there are three of
them), which row (again, counting the middle area, there are three) and the vertical
position in the column. There are tons of configurations available: just use your