The importance and practice of a daily Quiet Time was drilled into my Christian consciousness from an early age. Called by many names, including “devotions,” “Jesus time” or “spiritual meditation,” quiet time can mean the difference between a stale, stunted, bored soul and a fresh, growing, engaged soul.
The exercise of spiritual discipline of daily reflection upon God and His Word is a theme splashed throughout the canvass of the Bible. As Joshua assumed leadership of God’s people, God gave him the following counsel: This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” (Joshua 1:8) The book of Psalms is full of exhortations to meditation (PS 1:2), stillness (PS 4:4), seeking God (PS 63:1), and solitude with God (PS 23). Daniel was known for his piety in prayer (Daniel 6:10). Jesus often retreated into the mountains to pray.
The wisdom of solitude and meditation is recognized by business professionals as well. Some of the world’s best known leadership consultants, Steven Covey and Ken Blanchard, include quiet reflection as part of thier curricula. It seems Gods ways have been proven effective and beneficial.
If you struggle with establishing the discipline of a quiet time, you’re not alone. Take heart. The struggle to maintain a healthy devotional life may be complicated by a number of factors. For men in particular, sharing an intimate relationship with a God who has a male personality can be a turn-off if we think of spiritual intimacy in the same manner as physical intimacy. Unfortunately, we tend to envision a husband wife relationship when we speak of intimacy. This is a corrupted fruit of our concept of love. But men hunger for what’s called “male bonding” when we “get together with the boys.” This model for intimacy is more applicable to our spiritual life with God.
Another complicating factor is a hurried spirit. Hurriedness seldom leads to a profitible quiet time. If we’re in a hurry when approaching our quiet time, it may be preferable to wait until we can dedicate a few relaxed minutes.
Still another complication to quiet time is focusing on the process and missing the purpose. If quiet time simply becomes something to check off our list of things to do, we should step back and reflect on the purpose of our quiet time.
Each time we slip into bad habits, it takes a toll on our authenticity and spiritual vitality. But when we take the time to pour our energy into knowing God and listening to Him, the experience enriches our lives and soul. So, what are some secrets to maintaining a deepening devotional life?
Cornerstone one is intentionality. Quiet time must be purposefully scheduled. Gardens aren’t weeded, flowers aren’t planted, vacations don’t happen, houses aren’t built, and meals aren’t prepared without planning. Similarly, spiritual intimacy with God can’t happen without purpose. Be intentional about quiet time.
The second foundation stone in building a passionate devotional life is solitude. Without solitude the remaining ingredients will not develop. Getting alone and quiet before our Creator and Redeemer removes us from physical distractions. In Matthew 6:6, Jesus described solitude as “entering your closet.” Solitude allows us to be alone. Many recoil at the thought of being alone. Boredom, guilt, shame, and regret, threaten us when we are left to ourselves. But spiritual intimacy is something between you and God alone. Get alone so God can have your undivided attention.
This leads us to cornerstone three: focus. Jesus said enter your closet then “close the door.” Solitude without focus leads to a frustrating waste of time. Fruitful solitude means separating ourselves from distractions. The loudest distractions we have today are our phones and electronic devices. I have found that having my cell phone or laptop with me during quiet time is a huge distraction. Since most of us are over saturated with social media, leaving it on the charger or turning it off during quiet time may help with focus. Disconnect from all soul-suckers.
The fourth cornerstone is openness to the voice of God. As we walk away from distractions and get alone, it’s important to expect God to speak to us. Invite God into your place of solitude. God’s presence is what sanctifies solitude. As you approach your time with God, try to envision Him walking toward you with open arms. In reality, He is always as near as the air we breathe, but He promises to come even closer to us when we step toward Him. (James 4:8) He desires to open up to us. He wants to fill us with His presence and life; He seeks to impart to us His wisdom; He is engaged to teach us how to apply His truth to real life. Be open to His voice.
Having laid a foundation for a meaningful quiet time with God, we need to address some of the ideas which comprise the superstructure. But that will be a topic for next time. Until then, I hope these thoughts will be a help to someone trying to get to know God more intimately. I know just recording my thoughts has helped me clarify what a profitable quiet time is all about.