Why I Almost Quit Having a Quiet Time & Three Easy Steps to Make it a Daily Habit

Last March this blog took an unexpected turn. I always wrote about my life. Naturally that included my faith life. What I never did was make the leap from me to you. I did not communicate purposefully and intentionally how the things God was teaching me were also applicable to you.

Then, one morning I listened to one of Beth Moore’s live stream devotions during my quiet time. I was so excited about what I heard that I wanted to shout it from the roof top. I wanted everyone to hear what I heard and to be changed as I was changed. So, I wrote a blog post about it. In the process, I discovered that writing for you rather than for me was much more fulfilling. So, I kept doing it.

The more I wrote, the more time I spent digging into God’s Word. I wasn’t just listening or reading passively- I was looking for truth and application. I was researching my claims to verify that what I was sharing with you was accurate and trustworthy. I wanted to share the truth of God with you in hopes that you would begin to do the same thing in your life.

I did not just want to equip you. I wanted to unleash you.

I still do.

However, somewhere in the process, I got too big for my britches. I was spending hours a day reading, thinking, researching, and writing about God’s Word. So much so that I altogether stopped having a quiet time. I justified it by saying that I was spending more  time in the Bible rather than less. That thought pervaded for months.

God began to convict me (as he always does) of my need to set aside time with him daily for my growth instead of yours. Everywhere I turned people where preaching and teaching about the need to have a daily quiet time. My reaction was not repentance. It was quite the opposite. I swelled up with pride and became judgmental.

From my lofty place, I looked down on people- even pastors and godly teachers- who claimed spiritual growth occurred in such an archaic way.

I mean, “devotions” and “quiet time” aren’t even words found in Scripture. They are merely concepts we created to force us to spend time with God. If I am in a relationship with Christ, then I will want to be with him all day.I will think about and talk with Jesus constantly. Paul says “Pray without ceasing.” He doesn’t say “Pray for five minutes at five am.” I mean really! Night owls like me just weren’t created to spend time with ANYONE, much less God, early in the morning.

Those where the lies I fed myself.

I thought about my relationship with John. I don’t call him, talk to him, or spend time with him on a prescribed schedule. I do these things all the time and as much as possible because I love him and can’t get enough of being in his presence. Shouldn’t my relationship with Christ be the same?

With confidence that I had evolved to a higher plane in my relationship with Jesus, I quit having a quiet time. 

I even planned on writing a blog post to tell you to do the same!

I give thanks to God for staying my hand. That post was never written, and it is in hindsight and humility that I realize what a fool I was and how desperately I need Jesus in my life purposefully and prescriptively.

It’s probably no surprise to you, but the more days that passed with no quiet time, the less I had to say about what God was doing in my life. The less I had to write about, the less I spent time researching and studying to share God’s truth with you. My faith life did not go completely dormant, but that is not from my doing. It is because my gracious Heavenly Father never stopped showing up and working in my life.

In early December, I began to think about my New Year’s resolutions. I did what I always do- mostly because I felt like I was suppose to do it- and made my first resolution: Read my Bible daily. I didn’t think I would follow through, and I certainly wasn’t going to call it a quiet time. It was just a “kick start” to my day.

I had gotten lazy about eating breakfast; so I decided to combine the two events. Eat breakfast. Read my Bible. No pressure and no real time commitment required. The good news is that God uses even the smallest sliver of time we give Him and grows it into something beautiful and productive. And that my friend, leads to hunger for more…

Wouldn’t you know it, my theme for the year was MORE.

I want MORE of Jesus.

Before I knew it, I read through Philippians. Then it was the Gospel of John. Scripture opened up to me in fresh and vibrant ways. God’s truth became alive and active once again in my life. Only this time the things I was learning were so big, I didn’t write about them. I needed quiet time with God to flesh them out. I look forward to sharing many of these things with you. Little things are beginning to seep out in my writing, but friend… there is just SO MUCH.

I would rather you learn these things first hand. I want them to be as real and personal to you as they are for me. This will only happen if each of us develop the daily habit of having a quiet time.

As the weeks passed I read James and then Micah. I will finish Matthew’s Gospel this week. Next, I plan to camp out in Romans. After that, I will devour Isaiah and Hebrews. God’s Word is full of life and goodness. I can not get enough of it!

My quiet time has grown from five minutes to an undefined time. My prayer life is richer and more intentional. My purpose in life is clearer. I am quicker to trust God with the daily things and to turn to Him first. On the hectic days when I miss my morning time with God, I find myself doing what I have never in my life done: I make  time. I either get up early or I forgo my downtime in the evening and spend that time with God.

I realize having a daily quiet time is not something most Christians do. This breaks my heart. Not because I want you to be disciplined- which I do- but because I want you to know my Jesus.

Friend, there is no one like him. If you will just open the beautiful Word He gave us for even a few minutes a day, I promise- NO! JESUS PROMISED - it will change your life!

Just read what God said through the prophet Isaiah:

The rain and snow come down from the heavens
    and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
    producing seed for the farmer
    and bread for the hungry.

It is the same with my word.
    I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
    and it will prosper everywhere I send it.

You will live in joy and peace.
    The mountains and hills will burst into song,
    and the trees of the field will clap their hands!

 Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow.
    Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up.
These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name;
    they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”

(Isaiah 55: 10-13 NLT)

These are the promises of God: Joy. Peace. Growth. Honor to His name.

Taking the step to begin having a quiet time is challenging- especially if you have quit in the past as I did. The truth, though, is having a quiet time is not hard.

Flickr photo courtesy of David Wright cc

Flickr photo courtesy of David Wright cc

Here are Three Easy Steps that help me have a Quiet Time Every Single Day:

1. Put a hard copy of the Bible where you plan on reading it, and leave it there.

I have my quiet time on the couch in our living room; so, my Bible sits on top of all the other books and magazines on our coffee table so that it is the first thing I see in the morning. This forces me to make a choice: Do I pick it up or not.

*If you read the Bible on an app, make sure you see the app every morning and that you can not ignore it without an intentional choice to do so.

2. Just read.

Seriously, just read the Bible. Start with your favorite book or pick one of the many reading plans available on the YouVersion Bible app or online at Biblegateway.com.

My quiet time is not for Bible study. I simply engage in God’s Word and open my heart to listen to what God has to say.

I often do not understand what I read. Sometimes, I’m left unsettled and with more questions than answers, but day after day, as I consistently read, God begins to throw light on the complex things.

The more questions I have, the more eager I am to spend other time digging around in God’s Word looking for answers, talking with my friends and family about what I am reading, and searching out the answer from wise teachers whose books and sermons are available for me to learn from.

3. Commit to do it.

This may actually be the hardest step- and should actually be the first one. We make and break commitment in this society at the speed of light. This jades us. We look at our track record and cynically assume we won’t follow through. This is wrong-headed!

Relationships take time. They take commitment. There is just no two ways about it. So, decide today that you are going to have a quiet time. Commit to the hard work of making it a daily habit.

Trust me. You will soon discover that spending time with God is as necessary a part of your day as brushing your teeth or eating breakfast. You will discover, as I have, that a quiet time is simply something you can not live without.

What about you? Has God ever convicted or changed your mind about an important thing in your life? Do you have a quiet time? What works for you? What doesn’t? Leave a comment and share your story. I look forward to hearing from you.

Amy E Patton

 

a RADICAL shift

This time last year, I began reading Radical  by David Platt. About three chapters in, I chucked the book and refused to finish it. I did not like the things Platt had to say. I disagreed with his philosophy on life. I disagreed with his theology about God. I viewed him as a radical extremist. More specifically, I presumed he was a young punk who visited India on a mission trip and became indoctrinated with hate for America.

Dr. David Platt, author of Radical

original photo courtesy The Church at Brook Hills

Then I went to Thailand.

Thailand turned my life upside down.

I came face to face with horrible sin problems and people literally enslaved as a consequence. I also came face to face with my tragically misguided heart and beliefs about Jesus and His Church. I learned that I had unwittingly cloaked the cross in an American flag and bathed the Church in Southern Baptist waters.

American flag, church and cross

Flickr photo courtesy of Hitchster cc

You see, before I went to Thailand, I would have told you the Cross will save you from your sins and American ideals will lead you to a life abundant, full, and free.

I also would have told you that while any person in any Gospel-based church could be saved, the likelihood of that happening outside of a Southern Baptist church was slim to none.

I should clarify: I would not have actually told you those things because I did not know that I actually believed them.

While serving in Thailand, I worked with an incredible group of godly women. Within our group were Southern Baptists, Pentecostals, Catholics, and everything in between. These women, through their myriad of faith expressions, showed me that God is much bigger and greater than I imagined. They reminded me that He authored the Church not just a specific denomination.

As I interacted with women working in the sex trade industry and the ministries seeking to help them find their way out, I realized that the solution to the problem ran both deep and wide. Simply, Americanizing Thailand would not resolve the problems of poverty and injustice and therefore human trafficking.

I have been home for almost a year, and I am still processing my 10 days in Thailand. God has used this time to eradicate false beliefs from my thinking and has rooted truth deep within my heart. He has used this time to transform the way I live and to open my eyes to a radical new paradigm- one that I hope looks a lot more like Jesus and a lot less like me.

It is through this perspective that I opened the pages of Radical  for another try.

Radical by David Platt

As I read, I realized what an enormous shift had taken place in my heart. Many of the things Platt said were uncomfortable, and I still did not like them, but I agreed with his philosophy on life, as well as his theology about God. I now viewed David Platt as a believer following a radical Savior whose heart breaks for every nation and every tribe- American, Indian, and every one in between.

Based on other things I have read and the ways God has been working in my life, I thought my biggest takeaway from Radical  would be to reduce and live simply so that I could go and serve others. I was wrong. This book did not drive me to sell all I have. It drove me to Jesus. This book did not put me on a plane. It put me on my knees.

Matthew 9:37, Amy E Patton

I am taken aback by a Lord who loves me with such a fierceness that He will not let me go or settle for less. Jesus continually draws me to Himself, and in doing so He draws me toward the rest of the world.

I fear that in sharing my wrong headedness as bluntly as I have, you may miss the point. The point is not that America or her ideals are necessarily bad. The point is not that the denomination I affiliate with is as narrow-minded as I was. (Point in fact, David Platt belongs to the same.) I did not recognize I held the beliefs I did until I was confronted with something different.

Oddly enough, anyone who travels to Thailand will be struck by both the differences and sameness of us all. I suppose that is why the phrase “Same. Same. But Different.” rolls off the Thai tongue with such ease. It is a radical lesson, and I am glad I learned it.

We are all the same. We need a Savior.

There is only one. His name is Jesus.

Following Him requires radical abandonment of self.

He will change your heart. He will change your mind.

Most of all, He will change your life.

You will be different.

And it will be totally  worth it!

Amy E Patton