Why I Stopped Having ‘Quiet Time’ {for all the right reasons}

“…the resolving of the conflict between sacred and the secular (or, better said, the repairing of the damage done by divorcing them) has been billed as the major problem of modern theology.”

-Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb, 1967

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The writer of those words penned his thoughts 50 years ago, and while the current world of practicing Christians may have different theological problems, I think Capon’s got a point. I have looked high and low in my Bible the last few years and I can’t find any mention where believers are encouraged to develop a daily “quiet time” or spend time having “devotions.” There is no mention in Scripture of a particular time of day that is more sacred than any other—so why do we make the separation?

Now, before you go yelling at me through your screen or hitting the ‘delete’ button faster than bees buzz, let me say this, yes: we ARE urged to study to show ourselves approved indeed. Don’t get me wrong; I know God’s word is my daily bread and living water, I need spiritual food like I need physical food, like I need air to breathe. And yes, Jesus modeled for us how to get alone in a quiet place and pray.

But we get into all kinds of unnecessary shoulding all over ourselves when we say, “First thing in the morning you must meet with Jesus, read God’s word, pray and write in your journal. THEN you can head into your day.”

In God’s kingdom all of time is sacred.  When we belong to Jesus, all of our life is sacred.

If your ‘day’ begins at 3:30 in the morning because you work as a cameraperson for a television station, like my worship team, bass-playing friend K, I’m guessing it’d be hard for her to fit in a ‘quiet time’ first thing in the morning. Then there’s the barista at the local coffee shop, pulling espresso shots for all the weary folks heading into their mornings. (Raising my hand. Espresso-drinker, not barista). How does said barista balance the want-to of a time with Jesus with the have-to of a job?

And what if you’re not a morning person?  What if when you wake up, there’s 6 things on the to-do list that must be out of the way before you can even t h i n k  about a set-aside time to focus and settle in and listen to Jesus? Things like getting your kids off to school on time or cleaning the kitchen floor or paying the bills or writing an email or calling your mom?

When we do come to a more focused part of our day—whether 4:30 a.m. or 4:30 p.m.—we can look at it, as my pastor recently said, not like a “quiet time” but a listening time. A time of coming and settling in before God’s presence, whether it’s only 10 or 15 minutes. (Many days, that’s all I’ve got).

We talk about active listening being the better part of communication; it is the same when it comes to our time with the Lord. Listening half the time, writing ¼ of the time and talking (praying) the other ¼.

That attitude of listening time translates to a more balanced living time, where there’s no division in our days. Scripture’s clearest model is to walk in an integrated way—spirit and soul inside lined up with our actions on the outside.

We have much to learn, not for knowledge sake, but to show that what we know about Jesus makes a difference in the way we live.

I think we forget the Apostle Paul’s admonitions about walking in the word or John’s encouragement to abide in Jesus. Walking, abiding (or dwelling) are continuous, ongoing states of being. Even the Pentateuch reminds us as we “lie down and get up and when we walk along the road, that we are to teach our children.” (Deuteronomy 11:19). We can only teach our children what we already know, and this makes it clear–God knows a lot of our lives we are on the move. Moving in the car, going on a walk, strolling through the store….teaching/talking/singing to and with your spouse, your kids, your friends.

Here’s what I know is true about spending time with God: He doesn’t care WHEN we come to be with Him, but THAT we do. 

How about you? When do find time to be with God? What does that look like for you?

Please share in the Comments. I would love to hear.

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I think it’s interesting I would be writing this post now, as if God wanted to remind what I wrote exactly four years ago for (in)courage. I guess I needed to hear this as much as anyone else. 

Linking with Jennifer Lee and the community at Tell His Story. More great essays over there! 1c9ac-tellhisstory-badge

10 thoughts on “Why I Stopped Having ‘Quiet Time’ {for all the right reasons}

  1. I agree with you that we need to be mindful of God’s presence throughout the day and constantly in conversation with Him (re: The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence). A morning devotion/quiet time, for the legalist, is nothing more than a line item crossed off a list, but the same habit for the one earnestly seeking God is a life-line…a source of hope…an energizer for abiding and dwelling (your words) throughout the day.
    I’ve talked with many people about this, and it’s not the time of day that’s important but the priority you place on spending time one-on-one with Him. Is your God-time the thing around which you schedule everything else? In my own life, I’ve learned that the best way to prioritize my God-time is to sit down first thing in the morning and orient my mind/heart toward Him. Then I can get the kids off to school with the right frame of mind, call my mom in the right frame of mind, write a more Godly e-mail–everything on my to-do list becomes God-centered…and sometimes He reorganizes my list for His greater glory!
    Yes, it means getting up a little earlier than the kids, but after ten years, it’s not that hard anymore. Just like I wouldn’t go out of the house without brushing my teeth in the morning, I can’t start my day without this grounding. Spending my first minutes (sometimes it’s 15, sometimes it’s 60) with Him makes abiding in His presence throughout the day much easier.
    Again, it’s not a rule to keep, but it’s made ALL the difference in my life, and I’m willing to bet that if you ask the most Christ-like people you know, 98% of them spend time with God early in the day.
    (Sorry for such a long comment the first time I ever posted a comment on your blog. As you can see, this is important to me. You can check my post, Don’t Quit on Your Quiet TIme. Also, it looks like we follow many of the same blogs!)

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    1. Carole, your comments made me smile (and thanks for taking the time to invest in the conversation–I love it). You are so right….especially the part about God reorganizing your day for His glory.
      I have much on my ‘list’ today, judging from my planner, (a book launch is one of them and the needs seem to press in) but the first thing I did was sit with “Jesus Calling” and read a bit, talking to Jesus about my day. I closed my eyes and felt his hand on my shoulder, whispering in my ear, “I’m right here.”
      Even 5 minutes to slow and center myself orients me for the day….. Oh, how we need His presence.

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  2. This is so refreshing. I grew up in a church where there were rules about quiet time and I was always failing to get my quiet solid hour in. Then I got married and had children. Now I didn’t even have an hour to myself. I eventually realized that ten minutes here and there and while nursing was a much better plan for me. I also ended up thinking and listening to him more. Sometimes we make quiet time so complicated that we hate to even start because we know we will fail. Thanks for your post.

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  3. I read in a book by a well-known Christian writer (I’ll let her remain anonymous here!) that she cannot always spend as much time as she’d like on a daily basis in God’s Word and prayer. But on days when the schedule allows, she enjoys an extended time. That made sense to me, just as your commentary here makes sense, Jody. We don’t need to be regimented about our quiet times! For me, first thing in the morning has worked best for many years. Sometimes I’m able to afford the luxury of a long quiet time; other times it has to be short. Slowly over the decades I’m learning to abide in God throughout the day too, mostly through praise and gratitude, also watching and listening for his communication with me. It certainly adds more joy to the day!

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  4. I’ve always said quiet time should be a time when I can come and be alert and actually sink into rest, not just an obligatory item to check off my daily list. I’m usually not focused enough in the mornings to establish a morning routine. The important thing is that we come to the table, not when we come, or do I dare say, how often we come. I don’t make it daily – at least not in a structured way, although I breathe prayers often and express gratitude when I remember to do that rather than complain. I think learning to live in a constant state of submission and gratitude and relying on the spirits guidance is what sustains us. When I quit feeling guilty for what I’m not doing I am free to revel in the relationship I’m developing with my lord. Thanks for sharing your perspective, it is refreshing to read thoughts that are not based on the “rules” of how to come, but rather on the need to come even if it looks different for me than the standard. Fellow hopewriter here (who has not been writing lately).

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  5. I prefer mornings, but my default is to check that time off the list and not be able to recall what I read/heard/said by the evening time. My need is for constant reminders, which is more about the state of my heart than God tapping me on the shoulder all day long! I appreciate your thoughts, sister – oh, to abide all the day long!

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