I first became aware of the term quiet time (as it was used in Christian-World) as a teenage believer many decades ago. A daily interval of time devoted to Bible reading combined with personal prayer time were considered an essential part of an individual’s faith journey and were strongly encouraged.
Fifteen minutes a day, they said, would suffice to keep you well grounded in communing with your Creator and chug your spiritual growth train forward on the track.
Super busy? Well, ten would work too.
Okay, okay – five minutes minimum.
So throughout my teens and twenties, I tried to diligently get my five minutes quiet time in every day, sometimes by default, squeezing it in between yawns before falling dead asleep at night.
Somewhere in early adulthood, when another term, crazy-busy, became my mantra, my quiet time became much, well, louder, as I perused online and print devos, blogs and vlogs between dirty diapers, work at the clinic, kid ballgames and writing deadlines. I often replaced studying the actual Bible with this spiritual pesudo-nourishment, not realizing until much later than human opinions and insights can never come close to feeding our souls like authentic God-inspired scripture.
My prayers became microwaved prayer-tweets. Devoid of communicative content and limited to emotive explosions, “Wow! Thanks, God!” or “Help me Lord!” or “Please heal her RIGHT NOW!”
It was like replacing balanced meals with Cheetos and Oreos. (I might have tried this a time or two in a weak moment.) The benefits are shallow, consequences are staggering and you just can’t go on indefinitely on a junk food diet and expect to stay healthy.
An unexpected side effect of the increased racket in my quiet time was that my sole (and soul) consumption of human information and ideas actually impeded my thoughtful creativity and deeper spiritual growth. The more bombardment I received from diverse sources, the less I was able to focus on my bottom-line relationship with Papa God.
I couldn’t hear Him for all the noise. The fragile part of my faith that depended on knowing God’s father-heart waxed and waned. Static steadily increased on our communication line until it resulted in complete disconnect.
It was a long, dry spiritual desert time before I realized that Papa God had never hung up. The dropped calls were on me.
Now, in my later adulthood – which I prefer to call my sweetly ripened state – I’ve come to the conclusion that for healthy balance and continued spiritual growth, I need a real, honest-to-goodness daily quiet time, which includes not just scripture reading and meditation on that soul-nourishing Word, and Christ-focused devotionals as a terrific adjunct (this from the gal who writes devos!), but most essentially, actual QUIET so that I can clearly hear Papa God’s still, small voice above life’s cacophony.
I find the sweetest communion in the form of prayer walks, which last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, sometimes several times each day. It seems the busier I am, and the weightier the problems with which I’m grappling, the longer I need to prayer-walk to attain that precious, elusive peace of God which surpasses all comprehension.
That kind of peace is found in the quiet. Quiet. Of our spirits and surroundings. As in intentionally muting out the world. No music pumping into my brain. No voices screaming to be heard. No audio books hijacking my thought processes. No static between me and my God. No barriers. Just birdsong, nature noises, and the occasional irritating car zooming by. Oh yes, and my dog tugging on his leash, barking HALLELUJAH! (he’s always trying to proselytize the squirrel population).
How about you my friend? Ever consider spending a little more time driving, walking, bathing, or hiking in silence to give your mind and spirit a little down time to process what you’ve already taken in?
This I can promise you: although quiet grates against the grain of our noisy culture, the effort is w-a-y worth it to dial down and hear that still, small voice that’s reaching out to minister to your needs and bring your soul rejuvenating peace.
What’s your best time and place to open yourself up to hear the voice of Papa God?