But I also have come to realize that I, along with many other believers, have a poor understanding of what it really means to have a quiet time. The result is continued feelings of failure as well as a genuine lacking of personal growth through private study.
To be honest, most of what we believe to be requirements for a good quiet time isn’t something directly stated in Scripture. Most of the systems, regimens and expectations are plans designed by man. Those frameworks are a double-edged sword since they can aid and help us, but they can also become a hindrance to us, too. This is because, no matter how much we believe in a gospel of grace, our actions often betray our penchant for works.
We judge our spirituality (and others) on performance. We measure our relationship with God on the length of our prayers, how many ministries in which we serve, and how long we study our Bibles. All of those things are certainly good and important, but they are not the yardstick. We feel good about ourselves when we are able to strike the externals off of our spiritual checklist without really giving thought to whether or not they are effectual in the doing. In short, we choose quantity over quality. We apply ourselves to a man-made list of dos and don’ts, and forget to ask ourselves the real question, “What does God require of us?”
This kind of living is not sustainable. We cannot muster our good works independently forever. And so, it comes as no surprise that we find ourselves in alternating seasons of productivity and then burnout.
If we want to break this cycle, then we must change the way we think.
We have to align our thoughts with what the Bible tells us God desires and commands of us instead of creating lists and expectations that are based more on the ideas and perceptions of man.
With that as our goal, let us consider a few of the misconceptions that so many of us believe when it comes to having a quiet time.
3 Things the Bible Doesn’t Say About Quiet Time:
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Every book, chapter, line, and word of the Scriptures is valuable. That means our time in it is only wasted if we neglect to treasure it. Instead of measuring our quiet time on whether or not we felt moved or learned something new, we ought to ask ourselves these questions:
Some days, these questions will be easier to answer than others. But the effort to seek out and find it is well worth it. Knowing God is the goal of our study, not a happy feeling.
What the Bible Does Say About Quiet Time:
While the Bible doesn’t provide us with a line item to-do list when it comes to our quiet time, it does give us guidance. The clearest counsel we are given is found to us by the Apostle Paul.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
Paul tells us we are not to be like the world but rather to be like Christ. We are commanded to pursue Christlikeness. This is the whole purpose of studying God’s Word, and it comes down to three simple words: “renew your mind.”
We cannot be transformed without the Word of God, and Paul is clear that the battle is first won in our minds. We renew, revive, and reconstruct the way we live by first changing the way we think. That can only be done through the study of the Scriptures, through immersing and washing our minds with His truth.
This is why we set aside purposeful, quality time in God’s Word. It isn’t just a duty to be completed or an outward work to be crossed off a list of spiritual to-dos. When we forget this foundational focus of renewing our minds, we can set ourselves on a course to be burnt out by expectations, methods, and other externals that keep us from our simple goal — knowing God. It is through knowing Him that we can see ourselves rightly, we can think rightly, and we can live rightly.
If you are overwhelmed or have grown weary in the pursuit of a quiet time that honors the Lord and grows your faith, begin by removing the pressure we put ourselves to craft a quiet time that meets the requirements designed by man and brings your focus back to God. Take time to pray and ask the Lord to help you clear away all these distractions and expectations. Focus on the task of renewing your mind through His Word. Then begin to search out the character and glory of God in His Word. Learn of Him, talk to Him, and adore Him. This is what He requires of us, and He will help us to do it.
How has your quiet time transformed over the years?
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