I mentioned in a recent blog post, How to Read Your Bible More, that we need to drop the guilt about our quiet time. Bible study is not a competition, and it’s not a race. Nonetheless, sometimes we find that we feel guilty over some perceived shortcoming in our Bible study time. I’m very consistent with my quiet time now, and more and more I’m setting aside the guilt that comes so naturally when my time with God doesn’t look exactly like I think it should. But this wasn’t always the case.
I can’t help but thinking back to a warm spring night when I was sixteen. My family had gone to a baseball game that evening, and we got home very late. I had been pretty consistent with having daily devotions for a few years, but I missed days here and there. As I laid in bed that night, I realized I hadn’t opened my Bible all day long. The guilt struck, and I promised myself that I would never let it happen again.
That promise carried me for quite some time in my journey to know God. Although it helped me to get into a good habit, my motivation was anything but good. I didn’t want to feel guilty! Over time, my motivation has changed, and I’m far more concerned with having a relationship with God than I am with how many days I read my Bible this week. I hope you don’t struggle with guilt over missed days of quiet time, but if you do, I want to give you three practical tips to help you drop the guilt.
One pitfall we often find ourselves in is comparing what we do to what others are doing. But the Bible itself tells us that this isn’t wise.
2 Corinthians 10:12
For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
We see that mom who wakes up before the sun rises to have a quiet Bible study time first thing in the morning, or that retired lady who seems to have all the time in the world to study God’s Word if she wants. Meanwhile, we have to sneak in a few minutes of time with God in the car before a long shift at work, or we desperately grab for a verse to hold onto as little feet are padding down the hallway way too early.
And then the guilt sets in.
“If I just had the discipline of that person, I would have gotten up earlier.”
“If I just had the time that lady has, I would be able to read my Bible more.”
If we want to make progress in our walk with God, this kind of thinking has to stop. The truth is, God knows exactly how much time we have, and He knows the limitations we face. Rather than comparing ourselves with others, He simply wants us to give Him the time we do have.
And it may help to remember that the mom that seems like she has it all together and the retired lady with “all the time in the world” have their own limitations too. Life happens to them just like it happens to you, and their quiet time gets cut short. Maybe they feel the same guilt. Rather than drowning in guilt, let’s find safety in the boat of God’s grace.
When you realize just how much grace and compassion the God of the Bible has for you, it becomes much more difficult to feel guilty over a quiet time that doesn’t look exactly like you thought it should. God doesn’t have a sticker chart in heaven where He marks how many days you’ve had a devotion time, and He’s not standing over you with a stop watch to see how much time you spend. He’s eagerly awaiting every second you spend with Him each day. And even if some days that looks like spending one minute in His Word, He’s ready to reveal Himself to you in that time.
And if you miss a day? God is there to give grace for that as well. Ideally, we would spend time with God every day because we love Him so much. But when life gets in the way, and interruptions keep demanding your attention, God knows all about it. He understands. He’s not standing there waiting for you to fail to spend time with Him so that He can punish you; He’s ready to show mercy to your weary soul.
It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
God knows exactly what you’re going through. Rest easy in his grace, and arise the next morning knowing that His compassions fail not.
Looking back and wishing you had spent more time with the Lord is rarely helpful. You can’t go back and change the past, but you can determine in your heart to rearrange your priorities in the future to spend more time with the Lord.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
What are you spending your time on that you could possibly set aside to be able to spend more time with God? Is it your phone? A favorite TV show? Reading? None of these things are bad in and of themselves, but when they take priority over God’s Word, you would do well to evaluate how you could better spend your time.
As you spend more and more time with God in His Word, you will begin to anticipate with excitement that time with the Lord. There’s no need for guilt when we serve a God of grace.
If you want more help having a daily quiet time with God, sign up below to get The 60 Second Quiet Time guide sent to your inbox for free. It’s so important to start small when we’re trying to establish a new routine. This guide will help you to start having a consistent daily quiet time. It provides a practical tool for you to use when it seems like you just don’t have time in your day for a pause. No time spent with God is wasted; He wants to change your life. Will you let Him?