“How do I develop a great quiet time?” In the twenty years I’ve been teaching and encouraging women in the church, this question or one of its many variations has been, without a doubt, the one I’ve been asked the most. What is it about having a quiet time that leaves so many of us feeling inadequate, uncertain, and intimidated?
I’m no expert. I promise you that. But over the years, I have developed a fairly consistent pattern of time spent in the Word and in prayer every day. Recently during an interview, I was asked to describe my quiet time. I explained what resources I use and how I structure those moments.
Later, I was thinking about my answer and I realized I had left out the most important part. I’d failed to share a simple truth: A great quiet time is less about the time and more about the quiet.
Consider this verse:
Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world. Psalm 46:10 NLT
God, through the Psalmist, gives us the secret to knowing Him, which is the reason we should be having a quiet time. He says it starts with this — Be still.
When we talk about our quiet time, we tend to emphasize the time part. We discuss when, how long, how to allocate the moments. We focus on what we’ll do with the time — what books, tools, resources, systems, etc., we use. I know, because that’s exactly what I had done in the interview.
But what if the real secret to a great quiet time isn’t about the time but rather about the quiet? What if the key to learning how to abide in Christ, how to know God, is found in being still before Him?
If I could go back, I’d answer the question differently. I’d say a great quiet time must involve stilling ourselves, our hearts and our minds. It means allowing God to speak before we do.
For me, this involves two steps.
Quiet my space
While I can’t control when the dog barks, what noise is outside, or when my daughter will need to ask me something, I do make an effort to quiet the space where I have my quiet time every morning. I clear away all the unnecessary papers and stacks of books. I light a candle and turn on either worship or instrumental music. These physical actions help me shift from the chaos of before school preparations to a time of personal study and worship.
Quiet my mind
The first part of my actual quiet time is a brain dump. I make a list of all the things I need to do that day (which I can later transfer to my calendar, to do list, etc.) right there in my journal. While I’m writing, I pray for the day ahead, for wisdom to know how and where to allocate my time and energy. I also write down any names of people who come to mind, praying for their situations as I write. And then, when I can’t think of anything else to write, I sit. I slowly sip my coffee and take deep breaths. I’ve found these habits get my heart and and mind ready to hear from the Lord as I open His Word.
These two habits have become the precursor to a sustained season of intimacy with the Lord. Quieting myself and my surroundings is a lesson I wish I had learned earlier in my Christian life.
The apostle Paul wrote that his goal was to know Christ (Philippians 3:10). I share that same desire. And this is what I’ve found:
When I get still and quiet before God, He reveals Himself to me.
So how can you have a great quiet time? The secret is knowing the quiet matters more than the time.
What is one way you’ve found to quiet your mind?
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