Living with Intention

How to Quiet Time: Keeping it Simple with Jesus

May 6, 2016

We’ve probably all heard of having “quiet time”…you know, time growing in relationship with Jesus, but have you ever felt like you’re doing it wrong? I have. Ten years ago, I was really getting to know Jesus for the first time. I was also working from home and living in a brand new part of the country; translation: I had a lot of free time. The isolation of the season challenged me socially and personally, but I had a lot of more time than I could have ever wanted to dig into a “quiet time” routine. So, studious little heart that I have, I read up on all the right ways to connect with God. I had a prayer closet. I lit candles and meditated on scriptures one-at-a-time with a very specific method. I prayed out loud. I listened intently for long stretches of time, while I sat quietly in front of my little prayer spot. I read the Bible. I did formal Bible studies. I listened to worship music. I worshipped with my own voice. Truthfully, it was amazing. At a time in which my faith was finding a new foundation, I will always treasure the opportunity I had to invest so much time and energy into my relationship with Jesus. Those hours gave me such a firm foundation and so much joy. It was a truly blessed season. It also took a couple hours a day of dedicated time, minimum.

Fast forward to my life today and I barely have 3 hours to put together to sleep, let alone sit and meditate quietly in front of a candle. Sometimes, I miss those quiet spaces, but I know life comes in seasons and this one is a little busier for me. I’ve struggled a lot in the last few years to find a rhythm for my time with Jesus (I feel some disdain for the term “quiet time” although I know it’s very widely known and used, hence its appearance here. I just have issues. Don’t worry about me). I have drafted approximately 243 outlines for the perfect quiet time for my life in this season. I have tried different times of day, different orders and different periods of time. I’m certain I had weeks and months in which I spent more time trying to craft the perfect opportunity for connection with Jesus than I did actually connecting with Him.

Over time, I got caught up in some negative loops about the whole topic. I felt like I was failing at connecting with God. I felt like I was disappointing Him and that my spirituality was certainly in some sort of lesser not-as-good-as state because of the significant reduction in time and energy I had to give. And I found it difficult to trust the closeness and intimacy I did feel; certainly it couldn’t be legitimate with so little effort, right? Every time things felt out-of-whack in my heart or in my life, I wondered if I was being punished for the state of my quiet time – or the lack of it. I was so focused on getting it right and climbing the holiness ladder, I completely lost sight of the point of time with the Lord: relationship. As I’ve grown into life as a mom and a life with a much busier calendar (and a lot less free-space in my head), I’ve learned to see that my relationship has certainly changed, but hasn’t weakened. In fact, it’s been the opposite. I had to take the pressure off to get it right, but when I did, new pathways to connection opened up. I started asking God, “What do you want our time together to look like now? Is a big single block of time important to You? How should I be approaching my part of staying connected? What matters?” I admit I was surprised at how much affirmation, direction and grace I received in return.

Here’s what working for me today. First, I continue to ask God. When things get funky or my life shifts, I have to come up with new options. So, I keep asking, “How should this look?” When I was up in the middle of the night nursing little babies (which I will be doing again very soon!), I had a lot of quality time in quieter prayer and listening prayer than I’d had in years. I was sleepy, but it worked. I also pay attention to what resonates with my spirit. For me, worship music is a non-negotiable. Put on a good mood-appropriate worship song and I will be in tears, heart-connected and pouring out my thoughts in 2 minutes or less. It’s just a thing for me. So, I try to make sure it’s an element that it’s heavy rotation. The Bible, in my opinion, is also a major must-have. To stay connected and sane, I need to stay rooted in truth. The sword of the Spirit (which is the Word!) is what I need to stay vital in this world. I honestly can’t imagine a quality relationship with Jesus that doesn’t rely on scripture, but I know that may look really different from one person to the next. I have a friend who reads an average of 1 verse or phrase a day. She mulls and chews on that verse and finds great connection through that process. For others, I know a formal Bible study is a big help in getting thoughts and ideas to come together. There’s no right or wrong way other than to avoid it altogether. Just pick up the Bible and take a step. We can keep it simple.

Lastly, evolution in a relationship can often be called growth. Let’s think of evolution in the way our quiet time looks as growth too. I don’t have three hour chunks to sit and slowly peel apart nuances of revelation at this point in my world. I don’t journal page upon page of conversation with the Lord as I used to do. Instead, I have a prayer journal that has entries taking up a few lines and insights that took just a few moments to jot down. They’re no less precious and they’ve been no less nourishing. I spent too long trying to follow the formula. I had to come back to realizing that Jesus will meet me wherever I am. My heart’s intention is what matters. He does the rest. In this area, as in so many others, He’s taken my natural offering of time and energy – however abundant or limited – and met it with a supernatural love, grace and response. He’ll do the same for you. You don’t have to do it well; you just have to do it. Start anywhere and He will work the rest out.

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  • Heather Hernandez May 6, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    Marina! This is WONDERFUL! Exactly what I needed to hear! I’m sharing it on my FB page today for Friday Shares! I’m right in that season of littles right now and feeling like I’m failing because I don’t have those 1 and 2 hour “quiet time” sessions. THANK YOU for writing this!

    • Marina May 6, 2016 at 8:43 pm

      Aww, thank you so much!! So glad it encouraged you! And gosh, yes! Certain seasons (ahem, tiny children, ahem) are especially challenging when it comes to doing pretty much anything else!!