If you’ve been in the church for awhile (or were part of a protestant church in the 2000s) you’ve definitely heard of quiet times – and you. may have a complicated relationship with them.
Quiet time with God is a simple spiritual discipline, but for many of us, quiet time with God can be triggering phrase that leads to shame and guilt for how little time we actually spend with God. For others, it can be confusing – what the heck do I do during that time, anyway? We hope these thoughts will help clarify and encourage:
What is a Quiet Time with God?
Imagine you are in a tranquil space, basking in solitude, allowing your mind to drift away from the noise of daily life, and having a conversation with God. This is what constitutes a quiet time with God. It is a sacred space of solitude and tranquility spent purposefully seeking, listening to, and communicating with God. This spiritual practice is deeply personal and varies from person to person in terms of duration, frequency, and activities involved. However, most people who practice it typically incorporate prayer and Bible reading into this reflective period.
Prayer during quiet time can range from presenting our concerns and requests to God to expressing gratitude and love. It’s also a time to quieten our minds and hearts to listen for God’s voice, seeking His guidance, and gaining insights into His will for our lives. We can also hear from Him through reading the Bible, His Word to us, which provides nourishment and edification. Through His words, we connect more profoundly with God, understand His teachings, and apply them in our lives.
Are There Quiet Times in the Bible?
Yes, quiet times are demonstrated in the Bible. The best example comes from Jesus Christ himself, who often sought solitude for prayer and communion with God, especially during critical periods of His ministry. For instance, in Mark 6:46, after feeding the 5,000, Jesus retreated to a hill to pray alone.
Again in Luke 6:12, it is recorded that Jesus “went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.” These examples show that Jesus prioritized quiet time with God, suggesting it is still a beneficial practice for followers of Christ today.
What Might a Quiet Time Look Like – 2 Examples
Scripture Then Prayer
If you were to poll 1,000 Christians in the west who have a regular “quiet time,” I bet more than 500 of them would say their quiet time consists of some scripture and then some prayer. Whether they follow a reading plan, read the Bible book-by-book, or just read a Psalm or something – they start with 5-30 minutes reading the Bible and hearing from God. Then they end their time with 5-15 minutes or so of prayer in response to what they read.
Prayer – Scripture – Prayer
Many Christians will start their time talking to God – often just talking with Him or thanking Him for things. Then they spend time reading the Bible, and finish their time with more prayer – either related to what they read, expressing adoration, or interceding for others. This can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes.
The Difference Between Bible Study and Quiet Time
At the end of the day, this is just semantics, but most Christians I know spend 15-30 minutes with the Lord when they have a “quiet time.” Which is great! But I think we’d be remiss to think we can truly study the Bible and get intimately familiar with the scriptures in 15 minutes a day.
Sure – you can learn a lot about God and the Bible in 15 minutes, but I personally would encourage Christians to also set aside occasional time to really study the Bible. Pick a book to really dig into, use a study Bible, grab a helpful commentary, journal about what you’re seeing, etc…
The Bible was written thousands of years ago within a context and to a culture we aren’t deeply familiar with today (unless you have a doctorate in early Jewish or Near Eastern studies). It requires some study to get into the shoes of the original audience and interpret it responsibly. And that takes some time.
Many wonder, “Why would God do that? Why would he make us ‘work’ to really understand His Word?” It’s not a crazy question, but He chose to communicate to us via a specific time in a specific language, within a specific context. If He had orchestrated something that would immediately make perfect sense to everyone in every context throughout all of history – I’m not sure what we’d have. But it wouldn’t be the Bible. He’s wise and He knows what He’s doing.
So commit to more than just a morning devotional – commit to getting the Word on your heart.
4 Things to Keep in Mind
1. Start with Discipline, Fight for Delight
Delving into the practice of quiet time with God may not feel particularly groundbreaking at first. It may seem like just another routine added to your already busy schedule. However, like many things worth doing, it requires discipline. Make a conscious decision to dedicate a specific period to commune with God daily. Gradually, you’ll notice a shift in your perception.
After some time, you’ll find quiet time won’t feel like a burdensome obligation anymore. Instead, it will evolve into a delightful, enriching part of your day—a cherished opportunity to connect with God, experience His presence, and understand His will better. Consistency is key. With time, your discipline will bear fruit, transforming into a deep-seated delight in these moments of solitude with God.
2. Quiet Times Are About Getting to Know Him
Many activities vie for our attention in today’s fast-paced world, making it easy for us to treat quiet time as merely another task on our to-do list. Resist this tendency. Quiet time is not an obligation—it’s an opportunity. It’s about fostering a more profound, more personal relationship with God. It’s also a great outlet to learn how to pray.
Through prayer, you open up your heart to Him; through reading the Bible, you delve into His teachings and promises. You start perceiving His works in your life and the world around you, bringing a sense of peace, fulfillment, and wisdom. Remember, this time is all about fostering a deeper connection with Jesus and understanding His teachings better.
3. God Does the Work
Sometimes, the quiet time can feel like a lot of effort. It might seem challenging to quiet our minds, focus on scriptures, or find words for prayer. However, remember that it’s God who does the real work during these quiet times. As you sit in silence, open your heart, and read His word, God works within you.
He shapes your thoughts, guides your understanding, and stirs up the Holy Spirit in you. He cultivates growth, imparts wisdom, and fosters a sense of peace and wellbeing. So, even when it feels like “work,” know that it is God’s work in you, molding you, edifying you, and drawing you closer to Himself.
4. Don’t Condemn Yourself if You Miss a Quiet Time
Despite our best intentions, there might be days when we miss our quiet time with God. When this happens, it’s essential not to fall into self-condemnation. Nowhere in the scriptures is a specific, regimented quiet time commanded. Yes, we are encouraged to seek God, pray, and meditate on His word, but these spiritual activities are not limited to a designated quiet time.
Remember that God is always present. You can seek Him, pray, and even reflect on scripture throughout your day. Whether it is during a commute, during a break at work, or while preparing a meal, these moments can also serve as opportunities to connect with God. Seeking God doesn’t necessarily have to happen in a strictly defined quiet time format.
To wrap up, having quiet time with God is a powerful, transformative practice. It enriches our spiritual life and fosters a profound connection with the Divine. Remember, it’s about discipline transforming into delight, deepening your relationship with God, allowing God to do His work in you, and not condemning yourself if you miss a day or two. Embrace this sacred practice, and let it guide you towards spiritual serenity.