Thursday, September 19, 2013

More Thoughts on Quiet Time

"quiet and peaceful"
1 Chronicles 4:40

September is one of my favorite months of the year.  I love the beginning of autumn, with the cooling weather, the aspects of the new season, and a new beginning.  To me, it's "the other New Year", as the it's the new school year, and a new year of Bible Study.

So I try to approach this time of year the same way I do January 1st.  Resolutions, I guess.  New determination, new opportunities, new routines.

I thought about that the other day when I came across that piece I had written about having a Daily Quiet Time. It's something I strive for, but so often life gets in the way.  Sleepiness... busyness... forgetfulness... selfishness...  They are all symptoms.

Jesus modeled prayer time for us.  He said it when He told us to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread."  And in Ephesians 6, we are told to put on the armor of God.  The pieces include the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the belt of truth, the sword of the spirit, and the shoes of peace.  But verse 15 does not just say "put on your gospel shoes"; it says "having your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace..."  We need time with God every day, so that we are prepared for the day.

Do you know the story of Apollo 13?  The spaceship had been damaged in an explosion, and they were trying to get everything to work together so that they could return to earth safely.  The explosion had blown them off course, so they had to correct that, and because they could fire the engines for only a short time, they only had one burn to line them up correctly.  The moon is approximately 217,614 miles away from earth.  At that speed, being only two degrees off course would result in their missing the earth by 11,121 miles.

The farther we go when we're off course, the farther we have to come back to His will.  Meeting with Him every day enables us to make the correction when it's still only a 2 degree correction!

2 Chronicles 15:2b says "The Lord is with you while you are with Him.  If you seek Him, He will be found by you."  But if we stop seeking Him, we will not find Him. 

How we accomplish time with Him is not the important part.  As I mentioned the other day, reading the Bible can happen in a boat, with a goat... in the rain on a train.... or in a box with a fox.  Here, there, everywhere.   But since few of us have goats or foxes, what does that mean?

It means in your bedroom, in your bathroom, in your car, in your yard... you decide.  He'll meet you there.

I have had my Quiet Time in lots of different ways over the past several years.  Part of the problem, for me, is that I don't like mornings.  But it's hard to argue with those who say Quiet Time should be done first thing in the morning.  After all, Jesus rose while it was still dark, and even though it wasn't a commandment, it's never a bad idea to imitate the Creator of the Universe.

So what does "first thing in the morning" mean?  Before you've even gotten out of bed?  After you've had your morning coffee, after your husband has left for work or your kids have left for school?

What if it's not in the morning?  What if you take time on your lunch break, or when you get your child down for their afternoon nap, or before bed?

All good.  But don't find time, make time.  And if that time didn't work for you today, try it again tomorrow.  And the next day.  And the next.  Don't give up on something because it doesn't seem to work.  You couldn't walk the first time you tried, either.

Everyone is different, and every one is different everyday.  I tell my kids:  when the Holy Spirit reminds you, respond!  If you have to finish what you're doing, okay, but don't let yourself forget!  Tie a string to your finger.  Put a pencil behind your ear.  Put your thumb on your nose.

Then, when you sit down with Him ~ then what?  Listen to some worship music?  Sit in silence?  Read your Bible?  Write in a journal?  Write your prayer requests and answers? 

And how long?  5 minutes?  20 minutes?  An hour?

Years ago, when I first started trying to make this a routine in my life, I wanted the answer to all these questions from one of the spiritual giants in my life.  But when I tried on what was perfect for them, it didn't fit me.  So I prayed, and God responded:  Just Do Something. 

Best advice I ever got.  Zechariah 4:10 ~ "Do not despise the small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin."

Think of Quiet Time as something very, very important, but in which there's no pressure at all.  The how, the when, the where, and the how are not the issue.  The what is.  And more importantly, the why

He is why.

~ "Evening and morning and at noon 
  I will pray, and cry aloud,
     And He shall hear my voice" ~
Psalm 55:17 

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