Several weeks ago I began musing about the Christian discipline of a quiet time. My thoughts focused on removing obstacles which stifle our development of a quiet time. We thought about distractions, hurriedness, and unrealistic expectations. We laid four cornerstones for the foundation of a meaningful quiet time: Intentionality, Solitide, Focus, and Open heartedness. For a review of those vital cornerstones, I invite you to re-read The Discipline of Quiet Time Part 1.
In this offering, we would like to consider the creative of ways, methods, tools, and approaches we may utilize for a quiet time. God is a creative God. We need not think that there is only one right approach to quiet time.
Our first consideration in shaping our personal quiet time is how much time can we invest? During some seasons of my life I have been able to dedicate an hour or longer per day to my quiet time. In other seasons, my schedule has limited my quiet time to a smaller slice of the clock. What is critical is not the number of minutes spent but your openness to God during those minutes. So don’t become a slave to the clock.
The second consideration is that of content. Sometimes we benefit from devotionals written by others. Our Daily Bread, My Utmost for His Highest, Jesus Calling, and other classic devotionals can provide a quick meditation for rumination throughout the day. These are usually based upon a single verse or short passage. A few comments are made in the verse, perhaps a relevant story is attached and a suggested application is provided. There is an abundant supply of specialized devotionals available. Devotionals exist for men, women, teens, military, clergy, businessmen, athletes, teachers, parents, marrieds, singles, intellectuals, artists, musicians. Devotionals may have random topics or be concentrated on a single topic such as child rearing, suffering, finances, conflicts, forgiveness, dating, social issues, etc.
However, you may be the type which wants to discover truth for yourself and prefer reading strictly from the Scriptures with no commentary or thoughts of men to interfere with your communion with God. This approach often requires more time and can be frustrating if we are impatient. However, fruit from your own garden is savory. Such devotional content provides more personalized meditation.
Once you have chosen content for your quiet time you may wish to record the discoveries that the Holy Spirit shares with you. I have often found that journaling, either in electronic format or on paper, helps me track my growth, recall sacred visits with God, and catalog new ideas for further study. Journaling over a period of years will provide a rich autobiography of your spiritual journey.
Quiet time is about more than reading. It should include a time of prayer, or communicating with God about the truths he is pouring into you. There will be times when His revelation to your heart will flood you with joy and you will want to adore Him. At other times, His Word will be like a sharp sword piercing you with conviction, prompting you to prayers of repentance and humility. Still other encounters with God will leave you awestruck and you will only be able to whisper prayers of profound praise. When His Word brings timely counsel, your prayers will take on a spirit of thanksgiving and commitment.
One further observation is needed. There will be times when you find no epiphany of truth. What then?
We may respond to a spiritual drought by
1. Giving up (not recommended).
2. Going through the motions (Not recommended for very long)
3. Changing approaches (good idea)
Giving up leads to stunted growth and more spiritual defeat. You may be diacouraged, confused or disillusioned but this season will pass if you continue to worship Him in spirit and in truth.
Some choose to keep going through the motions like clockwork when they experience a dry devotional season. While there is something to be said for perseverance through dry periods, just clocking time to check the quiet time box off your list of things on do creates a machine not a relationship.
Remember, God is creative. We are changing daily. Our needs change, our interests change, our quiet time needs to adjust too.
Using music in quiet time can provide a refreshing change of pace and renews spiritual growth.
One may meditate upon a single verse of Scripture for a week and find treasures for the mind and heart.
A hearty Christian biography may loosen up your dry ground. Illustrations of how other saints conquered the same giants which taunt you can invigorate your devotion and faith.
Taking a walk while you talk to Jesus may add a personal touch to your prayer life.
If you are a musician, your soul may be lifted up in worship by taking up your instrument for His glory.
Quiet time can be creative. Remember, the objective is not to complete a task but to get still and quiet so you can hear the whispering voice of God.