When I first heard that Christians do ‘quiet times’ – time set aside every day to spend time reading and praying with God – I thought I would never be able to keep it up. But hard as it may be to fit God into our busy lives it’s absolutely essential. When we love someone we spend time with them, talk to them and listen to them. So why should it be any different with God?
While it is not imperative that we have our quiet time at the beginning of the day, many Christians would agree that it is the best time – our minds are fresh and we are not weary from the stresses of the day.
Jesus himself used to rise early to meet with his heavenly Father. As Mark 1:35 says, ‘in the morning having risen a long while before daylight, [Jesus] went out … and there he prayed’.
Learn to listen
We need to come with the right attitude; we should look forward to the time that we will be spending with the Creator of heaven and earth. We need to begin by listening to God and learning to recognise him speaking to us.
How do we listen to God? By spending time reading God’s Word, the Bible, and finding out more about his glory, character and purposes. And these things we see most clearly in the person and work of Jesus Christ, for he said, ‘He who has seen me has seen the Father’ (John 14:9).
We also need to be willing to obey God’s Word, whatever he may tell us to do. Jesus says, ‘If anyone loves me he will keep my word; and my Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him’ (John 14:23).
If ever we are not sure what God is saying to us, we should pray and wait patiently for understanding. We worship and follow a living God who loves us. So if we ask God what he wants us to do, he’ll tell us in one way or another – usually through his Word but sometimes also through circumstances or the counsel of those wiser than ourselves.
Don’t give up
Everyone conducts their quiet times in a different way but in general it’s best to have some sort of plan to follow. I start off with a short prayer asking God to cleanse my mind and guide me through his word. Psalm 119:18 asks, ‘open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law’.
Next we need to spend time actually reading the Scripture and then (this is important) meditating on it. Memorise any verses or phrases that really jump out at you. Keep a notebook to record anything you feel you’ve discovered from God’s Word that day.
It’s also important to spend time praising and praying, thanking God for blessings and answered prayers and asking him for grace to meet the difficulties of the day. Pray for the conversion of your friends and for anyone you feel is in need of prayer. Pray also for missions.
If you miss a quiet time, just pick it up again the next day or catch up on it when you go to bed. Don’t worry about it too much – after all, it’s better to spend some time with God than no time at all.
The best I can say about quiet times, though, is just to keep going with them. Don’t give up! God gave his sinless Son to die a sinner’s death for us – the least we can do in return is give him time each day.