So, what does a ‘successful’ quiet time look like? We’re not looking at outcome here. Not measuring results. The question can be answered in as many ways as there are people on this earth. You may have your own routine and the next person is entirely different. You may read, pray, sing, write, listen, cry. Bow, stand, sit, walk, lay down. We all have our own style.
However, I would suggest that there are certain elements that should be involved in every quiet time, no matter your style. But first, let’s define quiet time. Simply put, it is a time of day set aside for just you and God…and I would stress the importance of it taking place first thing in the morning. Many would argue that’s not necessary. I disagree. Giving our firsts is a theme in the life of a Jesus-follower. Why not the first part of your day? BUT, any time of day is better than not at all.
Jesus set a good example of the essential parts of a daily quiet time. Go figure.
1. Recognize your need for Him. Often we see Jesus going to the Father with a heavy heart. He went sorrowful, burdened, weary. I don’t know about you, but I have plenty of all that to go around. Take it with you when you meet with Him. And leave it there. Again. And again. And again. This is also the time for thanksgiving and praise. When we truly see our need for Him, we can’t help but be grateful!
2. Go to a desolate place. The word desolate is used repeatedly, especially in reference to Jesus being alone. In Matthew 14:13 says, “Now when Jesus heard this [of John’s death], he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.” In this verse, the Greek word for desolate is érēmos – an uncultivated, unpopulated, deserted place; (figuratively) a barren, solitary place that also provides needed quiet (freedom from disturbance). It’s so important to carve out some time that is in a desolate place.
Now, let’s make that real for our lives. That will usually mean getting up early. I know. I strongly dislike that idea. I don’t even like to say that phrase. To get alone, without distractions and with a sole focus. It is worth whatever effort it takes to make this happen. Be creative. Remember, your quiet time will morph over time. It’s ok to try something and realize it doesn’t work. Try something else.
3. Be without sin. Jesus was without sin. We, as followers of Jesus, are forgiven and cleansed. That does not give us a license to sin. But, we still sin. We still need to confess and repent when we sin. Imagine a person with which you have a close relationship. If you do something in opposition to that person, the relationship with that person will not be the same until you go and make things right. It’s the same with our relationship with God. When we sin against Him, we must go to Him and make things right. Confess and repent…turning from our sin and realigning with Him.
4. The Word. Jesus is the Word. Big W. The Word. Praise God, we have the Word in the form of our Bibles (and the Holy Spirit). This is where it may look a bit different from one person to the next. We can read it or hear it. Paper, screen or headphones. It doesn’t matter. Just get it in your heart and head EVERY DAY.
5. Obedient heart. Jesus set the ultimate example in this. He ‘emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:7-8)
For this last element of a successful quiet time, we need to say, “Yes, Lord.” We’ve laid out our concerns, we’ve confessed, our sins and we’ve ingested the Word. It’s action time. At this point, some days it will be a joyous consent. Other days it will be with clenched teeth. Many days, through streams of tears. Yet, the answer should still be yes. Oh, friend. Of course, there will be days when you can’t find your ‘yes’. Weeks or sadly, even years, when we say ‘no’. Like a toddler who just wants her own way. And now. But there is blessing in the yes. Let us trust the One who knows all and is Love.
Philippians 2:12-15a Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence
but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,
for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent…
Quiet time will not look the same for all of us. We are each created unique by our loving Father. Just like our own children and the time we spend with them. The style of the time will vary, but we still need that quality and quantity time with our kids. So the Father wants quality and quantity time with us, His kids. Quantity time…every day, more than once a day, if needed. (I need it.) Quality time…recognizing our need for Him, getting alone with Him, confessing our sins to Him, taking in Him by the Word and saying “yes” to Him.