Quiet times, huh? Does that phrase instantly make you feel guilty, like you don’t do enough when it comes to your spiritual life? There are two opposing lies about quiet times, and both can drag us down:
- It’s the law.
- It’s optional.
You might be assuming that one of these has to be true, but in reality both are wrong.
Having an hour-long quiet time in the morning isn’t in the Ten Commandments. And as a further news flash, checking “quiet time” off your list for the day won’t get you fast-tracked into heaven or secure a fancier crown for you when you get there.
At the same time, if we desire to live our lives with Jesus, spending time with him isn’t optional. It’s the way we connect with him, just like we would with anyone else. Every moment of the day, we are in need of him. So to even think we have a choice about spending time with him is silly. So if both these extremes are off base, we need a third way when it comes to the idea of quiet time. We have to reposition our hearts and remember that our time with the Lord is not intended to fulfill the law. Jesus already did that. Our time with the Lord is a gift so we can know God and be fed and nourished for what we are called to do each day. It’s not an obligation to add to our already-full calendars. This is actually what gives us strength as we respond to that calendar, as well as to our kids and our spouse, with joy and patience. We weren’t equipped to do this motherhood thing solo, so fortunately for us, we have ongoing access to the one who is perfectly equipped.
So what does this mean for the mom who barely sleeps and whose kids wake up at five in the morning? There are times when we have to be okay with whatever scraps we have to give to God. God doesn’t see them as scraps. The Lord is delighted when we give all we have. And I have to believe that our small offering is worth more than a larger offering by those who have all day. The key is adjusting our mind-set and expectations, knowing that this is the season we’re in, and then making sure it doesn’t become an excuse after the season ends.
Over the years I’ve talked to tons of moms, both in person and through social media, and I’ve found that those who spend time with God get creative in doing so. Some moms skip Netflix in the evenings and grab their Bibles instead. Some turn their cars into prayer chambers, and others make their kitchens into places of worship. When we get creative, we find him.
And friends, God longs to be found. He isn’t hiding from us like an enemy; he’s like a father playing hide-and-seek with his kids—he sticks out a toe and coughs to draw attention to himself.
Hear me when I say we do need extended time with the Lord—more than shooting up thirty-second prayers or glancing at a verse at a stoplight or the other creative ways we spend time with God. These practices can be really powerful, but only if we have a solid foundation for our relationship. It’s hard to start friendships long distance, but if we have a history of connecting on a regular basis, we can pick up where we left off. It’s the same with God. If we can create a solid relationship through consistent chunks of time with him, we can keep the conversation going throughout the day.
Spending time with God isn’t as urgent as the other tasks before us, but here’s why it’s so important:
It’s essential to becoming more like him. Transformation can’t happen if we don’t give ourselves space to shape our thoughts. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Spending adequate time with the Lord is a prime way to guard our hearts.
It’s essential to our Kingdom work. Saundra Dalton-Smith says, “We can never reflect the glory of God unless we are gazing in His direction.” Time in God’s presence gives us the ability to reflect his glory to others. As much as we might convince ourselves that people need us, what they need most is Jesus. Our main role is to be a reflection of him and point others to him.
We have to regularly get away from the noise and create space for God to speak to us. When we do, it’s a concrete way of telling God, “I’m ready to listen.” If you are feeling frustrated that God seems distant, it may be time to evaluate your life and see what needs to give. We can’t spend time with the creator of the universe and not be changed.
It can be challenging to consistently spend time with God, but the good news is that the more we do it, the more momentum we gain and the easier it is to keep going.
- Keep a Bible open on your counter. Just the sight of God’s Word focuses my heart on him. And reading even a few verses throughout the day keeps his Word on my lips.
- Spend the first few minutes of your kids’ nap time in prayer or in the Word. I used to think I couldn’t do this because I needed every second of nap time for work. What I found was that I normally wasted ten to fifteen minutes anyway. Now, with the motivation of spending time with the Lord, I stay focused and get right down to work afterward.
- Use your phone to point you to prayer or Scripture. You can use a daily reminder or a Bible app notification to prompt you to spend time with the Lord. You might even make it your routine to always hop on the Bible app before going on Instagram.
- Let your kids sit next to you while you spend time with the Lord. Once I realized the blessing of having my kids see me spend time with Jesus and not just hear me talk about it, I’ve learned to enjoy the times when one of them wakes up early. What a precious memory for our kids to see their mom devouring the Word!
Ongoing time with the Lord isn’t about marking another thing off our to-do lists. It’s about being so awake to his love and grace that our only response is to want more of him. It’s about coming to the Father with the expectation that more time with him will change us. It’s about realizing that he’s already with us; we simply need to look for him and stop looking to the worthless things around us for fulfillment.
Adapted from Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday: Say Goodbye to Stressed, Tired, and Anxious, and Say Hello to Renewed Joy in Motherhood by Valerie Woerner, releasing in April, 2019 from Tyndale House Publishers.