If you’ve been an American Christian for any length of time, then you’ve probably heard the phrase “Quiet Time” or “Daily Devotions” on multiple occasions. Since I grew up as a missionary kid in a Christ-centered home, the idea of spending daily time with God was basically a no-brainer! My parents got up at the crack of dawn every day, and I would often find them kneeling over their Bibles or taking notes in prayer journals. I can’t even remember a time when I WASN’T taught the importance of a daily Quiet Time. My parents valued this discipline so much, that they made it a part of my homeschooling requirements! I didn’t get it though, and like most rebellious girls with sinful hearts, I did what I could to get out of it. It began with griping and complaining, and which eventually turned into “cheating” on multiple occasions. I would skim passages just enough to get by my mom’s questioning, and would pretend to pray when I was really letting my mind wander to whatever place I fancied. I thought that simply going through the motions was enough, and that by checking it off the list I could please my mom and stay within her “good graces”.
Now that I’m older, I can recognize the parallels between young Naomi and what most of us STILL do on a daily basis in this area! We do our best to read the Bible and mutter a prayer or two, feeling accomplished when we succeed, but drowned in guilt whenever we miss it. We see daily devotions as God’s requirement of us, and if we miss a day or two or ten, we think we’ve somehow missed out on heavenly points. At the very least God is unhappy with us, and though we may not say out out loud, it’s how we feel. I thought the SAME thing of my parents when I was young, following their rule of law simply to avoid a guilty conscience. Today it is on my heart to dispel some of these lies that we may or may not believe about having a daily Quiet Time. But first, let’s start with the basics.
If you’re still a little fuzzy when you hear someone talk about having a quiet time, then here is a basic definition: the daily habit of reading the Bible and praying. Pretty straightforward! (Easy to say, SO hard to do.) Over the years, Christians around the world have developed various habits of spiritual devotion, from monks in monasteries to the puritan’s morning prayers. Regular prayer or meditation in the presence of God is something we see from every man and woman of faith in scripture, and the study of God’s written word has existed since the earliest scrolls were penned.
In our modern day America, the expectation of Christians to have a daily devotional time has become incredibly “mainstream”. On one hand it is approached as another spiritual rule to follow and habit to develop, which you do every day unless you want to risk displeasing God. From this way of thinking comes a strong sense of GUILT whenever we don’t maintain the discipline. On the other hand, having a quiet time is seen as optional and entirely up to your emotional state. Out of this mindset is born the 5-minute-devotional genre of literature, which are feel-good books used in place of actual Scripture. The author selects the verses, does the thinking for you, and gives you a sweet and simply “nugget” to make you feel good about yourself all day. I would like to argue that BOTH of these views DIMINISH the power of spending time with God, as well as its ultimate PURPOSE. And it all starts with a simple question.
Who are you? As someone who has come under the banner of Christianity, how do you now see yourself? I would argue that by following Jesus you have become not only a CHILD of the King, but a WARRIOR in His army. Having a daily quiet time is how you train to be the best warrior you can be. It is the daily MARCH of Heaven’s Warriors as they respond to the trumpet of the King! This immediately takes care of the guilt-ridden mindset, as well as the idea that we can settle for shallow or every-so-often devotions. If you genuinely believe that you are a soldier in a war zone, then you are going to seek to develop the DISCIPLINE of a quiet time, and never feel CONDEMNED when you fail, only eager to get back on your feet. Using some battle talk, here are 3 reasons why I believe this is how we should view our daily time with God.
We are at WAR. Which means there are enemies all around us. In fact, the Bible tells us of three: the world, the flesh, and the Devil. So not only do we have outside sources always looking for ways to take advantage of our weaknesses, but we have our own FLESH seeking to derail us. Ever wonder why is it SO HARD to sit down and read the Bible? No, it’s not because the Bible is boring. The Bible is the most exciting book you could ever read because it is the TRUE story about your ORGIN, PURPOSE, and DESTINY! So why is it so dang hard? Say hello to your enemies. The world, the flesh and the devil will do anything they can to keep you away from the source of your strength. They know that by spending time seeking God and growing in your relationship with Him you will build up a wall of defense that is IMPENETRABLE. In fact, the Apostle Paul literally tells us to put on the ARMOR of God! Let me tell you, no other book, commentary, devotional, or feel-good-self-help-mumbo jumbo is going to fortify your defenses like scripture and intimate prayer will.
Just as defense is necessary in war, so is OFFENSE. This is a hard thing to talk about in a day and age when we are afraid to say ANYTHING out of fear of offending someone else! The good news is that a daily Quiet Time actually BRINGS the battle to the gates of hell itself. Prayer is our weapon my fellow soldiers, and with it we can move ETERNITY. Some people may ask, why doesn’t God just do what we need even if we don’t pray? I am the first to admit how mysterious the Lord is, but I do know this, He wants us to be a PART of the BATTLE! Just imagine the day when we are all together in eternity. Do you want to be the only one who missed out on the most epic battle of all time? The good news is that spending time in prayer is a way to actively battle the enemy. There are definitely guidelines in Scripture for HOW to pray, so it is important to always remember WHY you are coming before God. As one of His SOLDIERS, you are battling for HIS will to be done in this world and your own life! When your prayers are saturated with this mentality, there is NOTHING that can stand in the way.
Let’s be honest, the front lines are a tough place to be. War promises all kinds of pain and suffering, and when souls are at stake, we are guaranteed a bruising or two. Not only that, we are surrounded by a broken world, riddled with pain and death. This is another reason why we MUST make time with our Healer a TOP priority EVERY DAY. Often we come away from the battle with wounds and blisters, but our God promises HEALING and REST to those who truly seek Him! After all, in His presence there is FULLNESS OF JOY. Again, no other source will give you what you need. Our God alone can remind us of His promises, His love, and His character that is forever faithful. Drink deep the beautiful words, savor the nearness of your God.
There are many reasons why we fight to have a daily time with God, no matter how difficult it becomes. This blog post reveals our warrior status, and the benefits a Quiet Time can give us accordingly. But for those who truly are in love with Jesus, they know that it goes much much deeper even than that. The Lord’s children SEEK HIS FACE. Plain and simple. We are soldiers of a PASSIONATE love, and a BURNING PURPOSE. Our desire for Him and His Kingdom cannot be contained. To seek His presence is to find LIFE, and we would literally shrivel up and DIE without Him. That is why we read, that is why we pray. We fight on behalf of the Kingdom, but most importantly, we seek to know the Lord our God. What an adventure! What a calling! The all-consuming, infinite God has given YOU a way to KNOW Him. Let this ring true in your heart. Let it fill your thoughts and overwhelm your emotions. Pour yourself into the pursuit of Him through a daily Quiet Time, and stop at NOTHING. We are at war, and your weapons are at hand.