The options for devotional materials are endless, and I feel like I’ve tried almost everything. Devotional books, prayer journals, journaling prompts, gratitude journals, journaling Bibles, and just plain Bibles. Then there are the accessories. Accessories??? Pens, markers, highlighters, pencils, washi tape, and Post-it Notes. And should I drink coffee or tea? Who knew having a quiet time could be so complicated!
It’s easy to get bogged down in what you believe your quiet time should look like physically, but I recently had an encouraging conversation with a friend that challenged me in my thinking. If you’re overwhelmed with all the options, I want to share with you three essential elements of a quiet time to help you have a meaningful, daily time with the Lord.
Our quiet time isn’t just another thing for us to do; it’s about a Person who wants to spend time with us. What matters about our quiet time is spending time with God. A quiet time should begin with placing our focus on the Person we are spending time with. What if we sat down and asked God what He wanted our quiet time to look like? His answer for you may be different than His answer for me; it may even be different than what you expected it to be! Rather than holding yourself to an impossible standard of what you think your quiet time should look like, ask God to show you what He wants. I know this is a prayer He will answer! If our focus is in the right place, there are really only two other essential elements to a quiet time.
Relationships are built on listening. It seems obvious that if we want to build a relationship with God, we should listen to what He has to say. I’m so thankful He has preserved His perfect Word for us to read in the English language. We don’t have to wait for some miraculous revelation to hear from God; He’s already given us everything we need in the Bible. Although reading what men have written about God’s Word can be helpful, it’s important to first understand what God has said in His Word firsthand. I’m thankful for commentaries and Bible study tools, but they can never replace the Word of God. It is an essential element in a quiet time.
I’m a quiet person by nature. Unfortunately, this has kept me from making friends many times over the years. I’m happy to listen to someone talk all day long, but a relationship can never really be built unless I open myself up to that person as well. God already knows everything about us, but He still wants us to talk to Him in order to build a close relationship! My approach to quiet time has often been like my approach to friendship: I would much rather read what God has to say than say anything myself. But prayer is an essential element of quiet time. If you don’t know what to say to God, start by telling Him about your day. He’s always ready to listen.
If our focus is on God and we include some element of listening to Him through His Word and speaking to Him through prayer, the rest of what our quiet time looks like is between us and the Lord. The length of time or the number of chapters we read don’t matter. What matters is that we’re sensitive to what the Lord is leading us to do.