Christians try. We try so hard to get this one right, but it just keeps slipping through our fingers. We want to have a steady, regular, consistent, God-is-happy-with-us quiet time, but it’s such an on-again, off-again rollercoaster. This is it though. We’re getting serious this time. That sermon we heard on Sunday drove home the point that we need a daily quiet time. The pastor didn’t actually say that phrase. He said “personal worship,” or maybe “private discipline.” He said one of those phrases because “quiet time” sounds kind of churchy and old-fashioned. Regardless, we need one. Some time to be still with God and read our Bible and pray. So we committed. For the next thirty days, it is so on. I can’t wait. This time’s going to be different!
Day one. Monday is theoretically a good day to start my new thirty-day quiet time commitment, but this Monday happens to fall in the middle of the month. Who starts things on the sixteenth of the month? New things should be started at the beginning of the month, or if you really want to ensure success, the beginning of the year. That’s the money date right there, January 1. I wish it wasn’t October 16th. Nothing good has ever been started on October 16th. Should I wait ten weeks to start my quiet time in the New Year? Probably not. Okay Monday, let’s do this.
Day two. Day one was easy. I just started in Genesis and read a little and prayed before work. It’s got to be during the morning. There’s something doubly Christian about mornings, and if I miss that time, my whole day is shot. God is not cool with me doing my quiet time during lunch or in the early afternoon, and certainly not at night. God is an early bird; satan is a night owl. Everyone knows that.
Day three. Ugh, day three was harder. I just couldn’t get up today and slept through my quiet-time hour. I managed to read a Bible verse online when I got to work though. And I said a little prayer to God in the elevator when I came into the building. That’s still a pretty good quiet time. Streak unbeaten. Three days down, twenty-seven to go.
Day four. I don’t know if you can technically be quiet and listening to a sermon at the same time, but that’s what I did for my quiet time today. There was just so much going on at work that I had to come in early. So instead of praying or being still or anything like that, I just listened to a podcast of a sermon while I filed some reports. It was hard to concentrate, but occasionally I would hear the minister say words like “God” and “Jesus,” and I would perk up and put the filing down at work for a minute. Take that, day four.
Day five. God loves music. I’m pretty sure David used to sing in the book of Psalms. And they were always lifting their voices to him in the temple. I don’t know if Jesus and the disciples ever jammed around the campfire at night though. Maybe they had a harp or something. Did the disciples play harps, or is that only angels? A harp is a really hard instrument to transport unless it’s a mini angel harp. I should look that up, but I haven’t been able to get very far in Matthew yet. I wanted to today, but traffic was worse than I expected. So I prayed in the car and listened to some of my favorite worship music. God is a fan of Steve Fee and Chris Tomlin, so I’m marking that down as quiet time. Five days!
Day six. Do the weekends count? Do I really need to sit still and listen and pray and read my Bible for it to be considered an official quiet time? I played with my kids a lot this weekend, and God gave them to me and wants me to be a good father, so I’m counting our game of wiffle ball as quiet time. Hooray for six days!
Day seven. God made me unique. He handcrafted me to respond to this world in special, beautiful ways. And one of the things he gifted me with is an appreciation for college basketball. What joy that brings to my heart. How I cry out to the heavens, “Go, Tar Heels!” They played last night and it was a special time for God and me to share, as we both watched athletes he has gifted with tremendous dunking ability soar about the floor with grace and beauty. Plus, during a timeout, I looked out the window and saw a bush, which reminded me of God’s glory and nature and all that. So that makes seven days in a row doing a quiet time.
This is going to be a lot easier than I thought.
“Saying “I don’t feel led” is the greatest way to get out of a Christian chore, like having a daily quiet time. Which, by the way, shouldn’t feel like a chore. It should feel like an uncontainable desire to spend time with the Lord. You should jump out of bed each morning and throw open your Bible with the gusto of a hungry man at a buffet. Or that’s how you think everyone else feels about doing quiet time, except you. They’re all excited about it, but not you—you’re some sort of grumpy sinner-heathenpagan. So to assuage that guilt of not having a consistent quiet time, you’ll say, “I don’t want to just go through the motions with my quiet time. I want it to be heartfelt, not just something on my to-do list.” That’s a great excuse for a number of reasons. First of all, it makes you sound holy. “Wow, guy is so passionate about spending time with God that he’s not going to just phone in his quiet time. He’s going to wait until he’s truly motivated.” Second, it’s one of those lies that if you say it often enough, you eventually start to believe it yourself: “That’s right. I do love spending time with God, and the best way to show that is by not spending time with him until my heart is right. I want to be on fire for God and not fake it. Until I’m sincere, I’ll respect him enough to avoid him.”