In 2011, I became a Christian. One of the first things I was encouraged to do was spend “quiet time” with God every morning. The reasons for quiet time included: to know God, know His word, practice prayer and studying the Bible, journal and process, renew my mind, mature in the faith, confess and repent, fellowship with Holy Spirit. Doing these things would help me be so filled with God I’d overflow with His love towards others. Like I said, all good reasons!
But in the fall of 2017, my quiet times were more robotic than anything else. I was praying the same exact prayers every morning. Falling asleep reading the Bible. There was no longing, no desire to have “quiet time”. It was different than the apathetic or dry seasons I’ve experienced before towards God. No, this was about duty and obligation. Doing. Works.
I didn’t even realize what it was really about until a friend asked, “So… why do you do it, then? Why do you make space for quiet time?” After giving her all the “right” answers, she looked at me and asked, “Why don’t you just stop having quiet time for a while? Press pause on the same old routine. See what God does.” Then we both observed the strength of my reaction: “What?! No! I can’t do that! I’m supposed to – I should – I mean, I need to! That can’t be biblical. Aren’t you supposed to tell me to press on and keep being obedient?!”
That’s when I knew.
I made quiet time an idol.
This is going to sound ridiculous, but to stop quiet times, for me, felt scandalous. I made quiet times a point of upholding my salvation without even realizing it. If I didn’t spend time with God in the morning in the traditional sense, I carried a sense of unnecessary guilt with me throughout the day. Sometimes, I would even be low-key afraid to interact with others when I skipped quiet time because wasn’t “filled” up.
Realizing this, I stopped having quiet times in the traditional sense for three months. I started practicing spiritual disciplines which had less to do with my doing and more to do with His (silence, solitude, slowing). I slowly became more aware than ever God was with me, pleased with me, and inviting me into fellowship with Him moment by moment.
I realize some of you may not struggle with quiet times the same way I do. Maybe you wrestle with sloth and honestly need a sister like me to speak the truth in love, “Go! Get away with Him! Commit to pursuing deeper intimacy with Jesus in the quiet place every day. If you seek Him you WILL find Him.”
I’m not sure where you are. But I do know this: Jesus doesn’t need our quiet time. But because He is gracious, He invites us to come. He wants us. He ushers us in. He welcomes us to encounter Him more fully so our joy may be complete in Him. Bryan Chapell puts it this way:
“The spiritual disciplines (like quiet time) are not manufacturing God’s grace in order that He’ll be nice to us… rather, they are a gift to feast on the grace that is already present made available by Christ. To think we have to add to the sacrifice of Jesus with our spiritual disciplines is so say that the Cross is not sufficient. Christian disciplines are about building love in us, rather than paying for His love for us today.”
David Mathis sums it up best:
“As Christians, daily Bible intake is to our souls what breathing, eating, and drinking are to our physical bodies. As the Word Incarnate himself says, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Our souls will die without the word of God. And keep in mind that having a daily “quiet time” or “devotions,” without communing with Jesus, won’t keep your soul alive. Mere reading and studying won’t do it. By itself, new information about God—glorious as it is—won’t keep our hearts soft and our souls breathing. We need the person of Jesus himself whom we find in and through the Scriptures. Extreme as it may seem, our souls need more than words, more than facts, more than studies and new head knowledge. We need the Word himself…”