Finding time in the day to be alone with God can be tough. Knowing what to do once we have the time can be even more challenging. All kinds of questions can arise when we start thinking about how to spend our time alone with God. How long should I read for? How many verses? Is a chapter enough? How long should I pray? What should I pray for? Should I do anything else with my time? What resources are there to help? Here are a few suggestions that might help you get more out of your quiet time with God.
- Schedule It: We all know how busy we are. If we aren’t intentional about our time, it can slip away from us pretty fast. If we put our time down on our calendar we are more likely to do it. Physically write it down or type it in. Don’t assume you can squeeze it in somewhere in your day. It won’t happen. Let’s be honest. If we aren’t intentional about it, we will never it get done.
- Create Rituals: One thing that helps me in my quiet time is the morning ritual that I’ve created. During the week, I go to work early where I know it is quiet. I close the door, make coffee, and pull out my Bible. The sound of the coffee maker and the smell of the coffee help get me in the mindset to enter into God’s presence. It’s a habit I have had for a while and it helps. Find a ritual or rituals that help you enter into the appropriate mindset. When we do those rituals every day, it will become difficult to separate them from our time with God.
- Practice The Disciplines: Practice spiritual disciplines like study, prayer, meditation, and contemplation. Each of these things can bring a different element to your quiet time. If you are unfamiliar with the spiritual disciplines, I recommend Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. It’s a great introduction to the practice of spiritual disciplines.
- Structure Your Time: It can be helpful to go in with a plan. Some of us like structure and some of us don’t. Even a loose structure can take some of the guesswork out of our quiet time. It can be as simple as following a Bible reading plan or it could be a much more structured affair. There are lots of resources out there that can help. One of my favorites is the lectionary readings. The readings offer 4 or 5 scripture passages for the week and help you work through the whole Bible over a period of time. It allows you to focus in on a few readings for the week. Another resource I enjoy is the Common Prayer: A Liturgy For Common Radicals. This resource comes with daily Bible readings, songs to sing, prayers, and short stories from church history for inspiration. Both resources can help add structure to your quiet time.
- Add Beautiful Things: There are a variety of ways to worship God. Unfortunately, art is one of the things that get set aside when it comes to our quiet time. Poetry, music, and other forms of expression can help us in our quiet time. Beautiful things inspire us. Sometimes that can be content from others and sometimes it can be content that is created by us Don’t be afraid to use your imagination in your quiet time. Write prayers in the form of poetry. Sing your praises and laments. Listen to quiet music to create a particular mood. Light a candle with a beautiful scent to help you focus. Brew a great cup of coffee and chat with God about your day like you would a friend. Let your imagination help you keep things from getting stale and boring.
- Don’t Worry About The Particulars: Don’t get caught up in trying to figure out if 30 minutes is better than 20 minutes. Don’t lose sleep over whether reading 1 chapter or 1 verse is better. The point of quiet time with God has never been about those things. We should read the Bible, but the length of time we read is secondary to spending time in communion with God. It is about quality over quantity every single time. If you can say with a clear conscience each day that you spent quality time with God, then you have done well. If you feel like the Holy Spirit is saying that you need to do more, then do more. Here is a simple rule of thumb. Be faithful to your relationship with God in the same way you would with your best friend. Sometimes all you need is a quick text to catch up throughout the day. Other times you need really long and in-depth conversations to sort through things. Don’t put arbitrary time limits on your quiet time. Put in the needed time.
Hopefully, these suggestions will help you develop some good habits around your quiet time. There are lots of other ways that quiet time with God can be done well. Perhaps I’ll write some more about those things another time.