- April 18, 2017
- Christian Living
Life is busy. No matter what your occupation is, what church you go to, or what kind of family you’re a part of, we all find time to be like sand falling through an hourglass. Time itself is elusive for us whenever we wish to control it. For Christians, it can be difficult to handle our daily responsibilities and also remember to spend time drawing near to the Lord. Even when we try to plan things out, we are always one minor catastrophe away from not having a daily quiet time. What makes this important practice so difficult to maintain? First, let’s look at what makes a quiet time.
What Is a Quiet Time?
For believers today, a quiet time generally consists of Scripture reading and prayer. As far as the Scripture reading is concerned, there are a number of ways to approach a quiet time. Some of the more popular reading plans out there consist of either reading through the Bible in a year or reading through the Bible chronologically. The first option gives you a little Old Testament, some New Testament, and a selection from Psalm and Proverbs. The latter allows you to read through the entirety of the Bible like you would any other book, from start to finish. Certain books of the Bible are going on simultaneously and others are presented in the Bible in an order that doesn’t help with the chronology. Each of these plans have their pros and cons, so it’s really up to you.
As far as prayer goes, you’ll want to spend more time doing this than you would blessing a meal you’re about to eat with family, but it doesn’t have to take up your whole morning either. There are many stories throughout history of preachers spending what seems to many people like an impossible amount of time in prayer. One popular account is of John Wesley getting up at 4 a.m. so that he can spend two hours in prayer. While we’re certainly not going to dissuade you from doing that yourself, not everyone’s quiet time has to match.
More than boxes you check out of obligation, quiet times are arguably the most important aspect of the day for believers. During this period, you are communicating with God, learning from His word, and getting the daily dose of peace and wisdom that is essential for navigating this crazy world. We know that quiet times are important because studying the New Testament shows that it was incredibly important to Jesus. For example, Mark 1:35 says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” There are several other times when heroes of the Bible are committing themselves to daily prayer as well. If it’s important to Jesus to communicate with God, then it’s probably even moreso for us.
Moving From a Chore to a Priority
One of the reasons why quiet times seem like a struggle for most Christians is because we are so busy. When you have 1,000 things on your mind, you don’t always make the best decision. If you have an hour to make breakfast, shower, have a quiet time, finish a project for work, and take care of the kids, one of those is probably going to get cut. Guess which one? Your quiet time is easily forgotten when you’re in a rush because there aren’t immediate repercussions. Just like missing one workout doesn’t mean you’re going to gain 20 pounds, we see the loss of one quiet time as a forgivable lapse.
The truth, of course, is that we desperately need this time of devotion. While it may not seem like a few minutes in Scripture could be that sorely missed, making a habit of neglecting God’s word could open you up to poor decision making, a weaker defense against temptation, and a more chaotic household. One of the biggest favors you can do for Satan is to quit having quiet times altogether. A defenseless target standing still is pretty hard to miss.
Since we’ve established how important it is to have a quiet time, let’s think about some ways in which we can improve our efficiency at this vital task.
Finding the Right Time and Place
One of the best ways to create consistency with your quiet time is to establish a routine. It would be wonderful if quiet times just happened spontaneously, but going in without a plan almost always ends in laziness. The first step to setting up a routine is to find the right time. Going back to Mark 1:35, we see that Jesus got up very early to have time with the Lord. That’s also the way that John Wesley and most preachers find effective. Having your quiet time first thing in the morning is a great way to kickstart your day. Reading your Bible right after you wake up also ensures that you don’t forget to come back to it later.
Maybe the morning isn’t the best time for you, though. There’s nothing stopping you from having a quiet time during your lunch break at work or at night before bed. The best time for you to have your quiet time is whenever you are most likely to be consistent. This should also be a time when your brain isn’t foggy so that you can get the most out of your reading.
Once you find the right time, maybe think about where you want to have your quiet time. Creating a habit is easier when you do it at the same time and in the same place. Going into your home office, sitting on the back porch, or maybe even taking advantage of a walk-in closet are just a few ideas. You want to be somewhere that is comfortable enough to spend time in, but won’t distract you from the task at hand.
Is There a Wrong Way?
Any method you have for reading the Bible and engaging in daily prayer is likely to be okay. That answer changes when the question becomes “Could you be doing quiet times better?” Flipping open to a random verse each day is technically reading the Bible, but without having context for what you’re reading, you’re probably not getting the best bang for your buck. Reading plans are a great way to go. You can read a chapter from Proverbs each day or maybe decide to follow a reading plan that will take you through the whole Bible in a year. Whatever you do, be consistent and actively engaged with what you’re reading. There’s no power in simply gliding your eyes across the page. When you commit to understanding Scripture and dwelling on what it has to say, then you’re getting to the heart of what a quiet time is all about.
If you want to be more consistent with your quiet times, get a plan together. Think about where you’re going to go and at what time. Also, have a plan for what you’re going to read when you get there. Don’t forget to pray and meditate on scripture after you’ve finished reading. It all starts with making quiet times a priority. If reading the Bible and communicating with God isn’t important to you, then you’re going to have a hard time making that commitment. Examine your priorities and see where you can make room for such an important part of the day.
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