Breaking the "Quiet Time" Code
There was a time in my life when studying the Bible felt like foreign territory and a massive, unattainable goal. My schedule seemed to be “jam-packed” and I was unwilling to forfeit a little bit of extra sleep to read the Word. At this point, I hadn’t really tasted and seen with my own eyes how how Scripture would change my life and become the bread and water to my existence. This time was in middle school - those awkward years where everyone is trying to figure out who they are and exploring their identity. Middle school was a strange time for me, like it is for most people. I was teetering between living a sold out life for Christ and falling headfirst into the ways of the world. Praise God He pulled me back when I was about to jump in, and He captivated me with Jesus. These clumsy years were actually used by God to be the foundation He used to begin to show me that time with Him wasn’t a waste, it was a necessity to living fully.
Middle school was just one season of my life. High school quickly approached and then college, both of which would test my faith and commitment to Christ. Would I love the Word more than the world? The only way I would ever choose to spend time in the Word was if I knew of the treasures it possessed. We only give our time and attention to the things that we love and adore. The “transitional” seasons of life are usually marked by giving our attention to our appearance, television, magazines, media, and friends. What we devote our hearts affection to changes in every season of life that we walk through. In order to truly follow Jesus with our whole hearts, our hearts have to come to the full realization that the things of this world will pass away and seasons of life will come and go, but Jesus Christ never changes and is worth our everything. One way that we come to this realization is through developing the discipline of having a “quiet time.”
Breaking the Quiet Time Code
The term “quiet time” evokes various responses in Christians. Some view it as a legalistic term that means something we do to earn God’s favor or mark off our “Christian to-do list.” Others immediately think of early mornings, Bible, journal, coffee, and silence. While others view it as an outdated idea. And then there are some who have absolutely no idea what the phrase "quiet time" even means! No matter what ballpark you fall into, one thing is necessary when you think about a “quiet time” or devotional time, the Bible. The Word of God is essential to the life of the believer. Just as we cannot survive without air in our lungs and water in our bodies, we cannot survive without the Bread of Life and Living Water.
I spent many years trying to break the “quiet time code.” Questions like this puzzled me: What should a quiet time look like? How do I really hear the voice of God? How much time should I devote to reading my Bible? When is the best time of day to read my Bible? HOW do I read my Bible? And so on. I searched deep and wide for answers and have come to realize there is no clear cut answer on what a “quiet time” is, because that term is never actually mentioned in the Bible.
Rather, what we see in Scripture is a clear calling from Christ to give up everything in the world to follow Him. In following Him, we gain abundant life! But in order to follow Him, we have to love the Word, because Jesus is the Word. John 1:1 describes him this way, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Jesus is the Word. When He was on this earth cloaked in human flesh, He even modeled for us what it means to spend time alone with the Father (Mark 1:35). If we want to know Him, we have to study the Bible and digest it as our daily food! This is what a quiet time is - coming to God with a hungry heart and open hands, ready to meet Him through Scripture.
Having a “quiet time” isn’t about finding a specific formula, it is about knowing the God of the universe and learning about your Savior, Jesus Christ. This comes through the regular practice of reading the Word, studying it within its context, praying fervently, and then, through the Holy Spirit’s power, living what we read out in daily life.
Giving God Our Best
When I was first trying to study Scripture and develop a habit of having daily time in the Word in middle school and high school, my main problem was I didn't know how much time to devote to the Word. At the time, I had youth pastor’s who challenged the youth group to just spend five minutes a day in the Bible. These small challenges caused me to dip my toe in the waters of the Word, but I needed someone to call me up and out into a deeper walk with God. I needed to hear that Jesus demands my entire life, not just some of it. Sometimes the problem with our approach to studying the Bible is that we give God too little of our time and expect nothing from the Word.
God placed certain women in my life during these seasons (including my mom and sister), who modeled for me what commitment to Christ looked like. I saw my mom daily opening up her Bible first thing along with my dad. Her devotion showed me that Jesus is worth our best moments. Even though I was much younger at the time, God begin to reveal to me that spending time with Him was actually what would equip me for the day ahead. He is worthy of our first, our last moments, and every moment in between.
The problem for most of us in our approach to having a "quiet time" is that we give God our leftovers instead of our best. We squeeze Him into a five minute block when we should instead be forming our entire life around Him. We come to Him only when our resources and strength is depleted and when our time is minimal. In doing so, we miss out on the greatest treasure of the day!
If you are trying to "break the quiet time code" and figure out how to get into the Word, my encouragement and challenge to you is to give God your best moments. Instead of fitting Him into your schedule, make your schedule around Him and His Word. Don't expect perfection from spending time in the Word, because circumstances may not look perfect or quiet. Instead, expect great truths from your great God. Jeremiah 33:3 tells us this, "Call to me and I will tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." When we come He hears, He answers, and He pours out His grace and truth on our heads to satisfy our souls.
Give Him your best moments, and taste and see for yourself that He is always and forever, good (Psalm 32:8).