Having a quiet time with God is a piece of consistent advice I’ve been given by wise Christians ever since I decided to follow Jesus. I was assured that a quiet time was a crucial foundation in my Christian journey and that neglecting it would be a big mistake.
When I was told this, I would nod earnestly but cringe inside. Why? Because I hated quiet times. The idea of sitting still and being quiet was about as far from my ideal as you could possibly imagine. I’m a kinaesthetic learning extrovert who externally processes. Have a daily quiet time and sit still? Why would I do that?
It’s a question I wrestled with for years, and to some extent, still find challenging. Yet, I have learned to embrace these moments of quiet and stillness. Here’s how I developed a joy for my daily quiet time with Jesus.
Jesus modelled it
The parts of the gospel narratives I love most are the stories where Jesus is dynamic. When He is confronting injustice and hypocrisy by kneeling in the dust with the women caught in adultery. Or where He is showing immense compassion and power by weeping at the grave of Lazarus and then calling Him to life again. I would read these stories repeatedly, imagining the scene and the looks on the people’s faces.
What I missed in my readings was the spaces in between the dramatic encounters. Luke, in his gospel, frequently draws our attention to the hidden habits of Jesus.
While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” He said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.
Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”
Yet the news about Him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Luke 5: 12-15
Did you notice the emphasis Luke used? “Jesus OFTEN withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Jesus consistently modelled time away from the crowds and His close friends to have a quiet time with God. He did the same thing before He chose His 12 apostles.
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also designated apostles: Simon (whom He named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
Luke 6: 12-16
And again, when He was facing His greatest challenge as He prepared for His death.
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and His disciples followed Him. On reaching the place, He said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him. And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
Luke 22: 39-44
It seems that Jesus relied on these moments of quiet time with His Father. However, it doesn’t change that I hated those quiet times and struggled to build them into my life. Here are some things I learned that hopefully will help you in your quiet time routine.
Before you start
For years I struggled with quiet times because I had the wrong idea of what it was for. I thought it was something I needed to do or God wouldn’t like me, bless me, appreciate me or answer my prayers. I was treating God like a genie or a vending machine.
If I do this quiet time routine, then God has to come through for me. It was a messed up way of viewing God. Quiet times are a way to develop a relationship with your heavenly Father. The relationship is the key, not how long you pray or how much of your bible you read. The goal is learning who God is and letting Him love you. Although, quiet times can feel clunky at first, like an awkward first date, that’s normal; keep going and allow the relationship to develop over time.
Quiet times don’t just happen, at least not in my experience. I had to pick a time and a place. Somewhere I can be alone and focus on God. This can be tricky, especially if your life is full of other people, but it is possible.
There is an old story about John Wesley’s mother that makes me smile. Apparently, she had many children, and they lived in a small house, so finding a place to be alone was difficult. To overcome this, she would sit in the kitchen, take her apron, and pull it over her head to be alone with God. The children knew that when mum was sat like that, she was not to be disturbed!
There’s no point in having a quiet time with God unless you’re going to be honest. That means dropping the masks, letting go of what you think you should say or in any other way trying to impress Him. You can’t hide anything from Him, He knows every word you will be speaking before you do. Not only that, He knows you at your worst and still loves you, still calls you into His presence and still wants to spend time with you. How amazing is that?
Ask Him to reveal Himself to you
God wants you to know Him, and He wants you to understand How much He loves you. Asking Him to show you more of that is a great place to start your quiet time. Reading your bible at this moment can be a massive help as it shows us who God is. The Glorify app has a daily bible reading that facilitates this. As you read the verses, take your time and ask Him what He wants to show you as you read.
For years quiet times were stressful for me. They were pressured and a burden. But that was never the point. As I’ve learnt to relax, to enjoy God and be honest with Him, then my quiet times have become a joy.