“Quiet Time”. That phrase has made me shudder since I was about 16 years old when the concept was first introduced to me. The amount of pressure that comes along with someone mentioning that phrase is incredible and frightening. I think there is a great explanation for why that is the case. Pretty simple, actually. We’ve made daily “Quiet Time” with God law. It is now a daily requirement. With this requirement, we have set up all kinds of stipulations as to how to correctly go about meeting this requirement. You know it’s true.
-Women, it must be before anyone in your home wakes up. 5 am! Earlier if you are super spiritual. Be an example to those kids of a Proverbs 31 woman! Get your lamp out and make sure there’s plenty of oil in it!
-You must read/pray for at least an hour for it to be an exceptable, sacrificial time. After all, how much time will you spend watching TV or playing on the internet today? You shouldn’t spend less time with God than you do EATING and ENJOYING LIFE!!! You realize the amount of time you spend in your quiet time is a direct reflection of how much you love God in comparison to all other things, right?
-You must be prepared to diagram sentences, break down entire passages, complete with flow charts and arrows all in your bible. Jr. High grammar, anyone??!
– You must also be sure to get at least ONE personal application that you will execute during the day. Otherwise, you’re just “going through the motions”.
– You must have all of the correct journals, commentaries, pens, highlighters, sticky tabs (though not to label the books of the bible, otherwise you are a baby Christian, and not a legit-Jesus-Super-Christian.This is the big league, son! ). Don’t forget your Rolodex of memory verses to recite!
-Make sure you have a place and a plan otherwise, you are setting yourself up for FAILURE.
Then, if all that isn’t pressure enough, we make this “Quiet Time” out to be a magical curer of all sin and the “apple a day that keeps trials at bay”. When we find our friends struggling in life, the first thing we ask is, “Well, how are your quiet times?” When crap hits the fan and we are neck deep in a trial, we immediately think to ourselves, “Well, I guess this is because I haven’t had my quiet times like I should.” Or, “If I can just have consistent quiet times, this trial will be over soon, because I will have learned my lesson and I won’t have to keep going through this.”
Either you are laughing right now because you know this is true. Or you are highly offended and feel as though I’m picking on you. Let me be clear. What I am saying here is what I have believed, practiced, and pushed on others for years. So you need not feel that I am personally attacking anyone. But you DO need to know that NONE of this is scriptural. None of this is Christianity. None of this is an actual requirement given by the Lord like we make it out to be. This is a man made system. It has good intent in origin. But it is a system none-the-less. And we’ve taken it to another level. A level where we no longer have need of the gospel, so long as we have a “Quiet Time”.
Take Peter. Standing on the shore, picking at his fish breakfast. Waiting for Jesus to confront his denial. What would you say to him? “You know Peter, if you had just had your QUIET TIME this morning, you wouldn’t be in this mess. You would not have denied Jesus. You would not have sinned.” Sounds silly when you put it like that. But it is what we do to ourselves and to others around us. Funny thing, Jesus TOLD Peter he was going to deny him. No matter WHAT Peter did or didn’t do, before morning hit, he would deny the Savior he loved dearly and run away in shame. It was inevitable. Jesus knew it and went on to say, “but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Funny how Jesus was more concerned for Peter himself (and his faith) than he was about Peter’s sin. Peter was humbled by his sin and therefore, completely usable by God and ready to help the men around him.
By God’s grace, I have rejected this yoke of a system. No turning back. No more check lists. No more keeping account of “how many” quiet times I have had this week. God doesn’t care about that and he isn’t keeping count so why on earth would I!? No, God cares about me. He cares about spending time with me. Quality time. He just wants to hear from his beloved child and He is eager to teach me something about Himself. It’s no longer about filling a requirement. It’s about a relationship. It’s about picking up this beloved book and peering into it. It’s about having Jesus’ beautiful words of hope in the gospel wash over me. It’s about me seeing who Jesus is, and responding in worship. That can happen at 8:30 am with my kids bouncing all around me on the couch. It can happen mid-day while my baby boy is napping. It can happen every other day or whenever- there is NO RULE! I can go to him anytime. The more I have come to realize this, the freedom it brings sends me to the word more joyfully and with excitement. Not dragging my feet, begrudgingly. I’m no longer overwhelmed by a guilt driven thing that I have “to do” to be an acceptable believer but overjoyed to spend time with my Jesus.
If you feel a sense of guilt or a feeling of “ugh” when you hear the words “Quiet Time” it may be that you’ve bought into the system. You need to be reminded of the gospel. All requirements have been met on behalf of Christ for you. So you can walk into a sweet time of fellowship with the Lord anytime. He’s eagerly waiting to hear from you, beloved child. Really, we just need to stop viewing this time as a requirement, and start viewing it as a gift. The veil was torn. Full access has been granted. Enter in, no strings attached. Maybe we should just stop asking people (and ourselves) how the “Quiet Times” are going. Maybe instead we should ask if fellowship with Jesus is sweet. That is an entirely different question. It’s one that actually matters. 😉