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.
Wrong form ID