If you’re like me, you probably have every intention to spend time with Jesus in the morning … or evening. Or during your break in the afternoon.
You hear your pastor speak on the importance of spending time in your Bible daily or how important it is to sit with Jesus each day but all of your intentions never quite turn into action.
It can be a source of guilt but I’m convinced that failing in this area doesn’t have to be a source of discouragement. Sometimes we just approach quiet time the wrong way.
It is possible to follow through.
Here are four reasons you probably don’t follow through with quiet time, as well as what you should do instead.
Starting Too Ambitiously
“Starting today, I’m going to read one chapter of the Bible and pray for 30 minutes each day.”
That’s a great idea, but if you aren’t used to reading your Bible or have grown into this discipline, it may feel like going from 0 to 100 MPH on a scooter. It might be possible but it isn’t sustainable. You’ll lose speed quickly.
Instead, find a time you can stay consistent with and stick to that. You might not be able to spend 30 minutes a day at first. But you can probably spend 5-10 minutes. Start there and slowly work your way up. Once you get into the rhythm and start seeing the benefits of your devotional time, 30 minutes, or even longer, might not be so unattainable anymore.
Getting Too Far Behind
Yearly devotionals are my demise. When it’s November and I find myself reading February 5th’s entry, it’s hard not to feel inadequate. That’s why I generally don’t choose devotionals that correspond with dates. Or if I do, I ignore the dates completely.
Right now I’m reading the bible chronologically. And I’m going at my own speed.
If you miss a day or two of your quiet time, it isn’t the end of the world. This won’t be the last time you miss a day or two, and that’s OK. Just don’t give up. No, seriously. Don’t give up.
Spending time with Jesus is a discipline but once you begin seeing the fruits of that investment in your relationship with him, it will become easier. Find a method that works for you. Maybe a devotional can help you stay on track with daily readings. But make sure that you don’t let this habit fall to the wayside because before you know it, a year goes by and your goal of completing a study or staying consistent grows further and further away.
Reading at the Wrong Time of Day
I tried the early-morning-prayer-closet approach. It didn’t work for me.
Sleep was far too tempting. Then I tried the before-I-go-to-bed quiet time. Again, sleep beckoned with a sweeter voice.
Instead, I now build my time with Jesus into my daily to-do list. I get to check it off my list and it feels great. My Wunderlist app literally says “spend time with God” and I cross it off. It felt wrong at first—scheduling time with God as a task—but it works for me.
Maybe that won’t work for you; we all need different approaches. Experiment with a time of day that works best for your schedule. Maybe lunch gives you an opportunity to spend time with God. Or get out of the door early each day and read in the parking lot before you get to work or school. Maybe it’s not that you can’t succeed at following through at quiet time but that you just haven’t found the time that works for you.
Let’s be real. Sometimes quiet time gets weird.
You may not feel like it, or you sit still trying to meditate on what you just read and all you hear are your own thoughts. A designated quiet time is a tool to help you grow closer to God. It’s certainly not the only time you can hear from God or communicate with Him.
Maybe you would find it easier if you read Scriptures that immediately spoke to a situation you’re struggling with or if you talked to God about what’s already on your mind. He already knows where our minds wander to, you might as well invite Him into those whether they’re checklists to get you through the rest of the day, anxieties or hopes. Eventually, you’ll find that God honors being welcomed into those thoughts, too.
Don’t let guilt keep you from getting to know the heart of God. After all, He’s the solution of guilt. Not the source of it.