I stared at the clock as I flipped through the Psalms. 8:01…8:15…8:24. When will the clock say “8:30?” Hasn’t it been a half hour since I started? Why is this Psalm so long? I really don’t feel like journaling a prayer today, but I really have to do it if this is going to count as a complete quiet time. I really feel like I should work on memorizing that Psalm or sing that praise song…
Clearly, I couldn’t focus on the task at hand: doing devotions. Even though I try to do them regularly, I don’t always meet that goal. And I certainly have trouble focusing while I do them.
So why do I bother? Why do I even spend time with God at all? What is the real reason I have quiet time? The answer isn’t elegant or spiritual or even surprising.
The Real Reason
The real reason I have quiet time is to check it off my “good Christian” checklist. Some specific items on that checklist are: read my Bible, pray, go to church, memorize Bible verses and passages, sing praise songs, serve in the church, wear nice clothes to church, send cards to sick people, etc. You get the picture.
Of course, I would love to draw close to God during my quiet times and learn about His character and grow stronger in my faith. But those things don’t motivate me to sit down with my Bible, a pen, and a journal.
I do devotions because it’s simply the right thing to do. I would be a bad Christian if I didn’t read my Bible or pray…right?
Well, not exactly.
No Matter What
As believers, we aren’t seen as “bad” or “good” Christians in God’s eyes. Jesus’ righteousness covers our sin (including our neglect of His Word, prayer, worship, etc.). We don’t have to worry that God will stop loving us or that we’ll no longer be saved if we skip a quiet time or even several quiet times.
No matter what, God will love us. We are His forever. So, no matter what our motivation is, we must keep studying the Word and never stop praying. Our hearts may not be in the right place when we do devotions, but that doesn’t mean we should stop.
If you’re trying to be a better Christian, have quiet time. If you’re trying to grow in your knowledge of God, have quiet time. If you’re scared that your friends will judge you if you don’t, have quiet time. If you want to discover God’s promises, have quiet time. If you think God won’t reward you if you don’t, have quiet time, have quiet time. If you’re looking for God’s direction, have quiet time.
As you read His Word, ask for His guidance, praise Him for His work in your life, confess your sins to Him, thank Him for His blessings, and bring your requests to Him, God will draw near.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. (James 4:8-10 NASB)
This isn’t a fluffy passage of the Bible. It’s not easy to swallow, but it’s the truth. We need to come to God, but we must come in humility. Yes, our motives are wrong a lot of the time. We are “double-minded” because we say we love God but we also sin constantly. However, that doesn’t mean we should give away our Bibles and never speak to God again. Instead, we should spend more time with Him so that He will further transform our hearts and minds.
What Quiet Time Is Not About
Your “good Christian” checklist may be extensive and exhausting, but it doesn’t define your relationship with God. Christ does. He defined you as forgiven, redeemed, desired, saved, and loved. Finishing a Bible study, memorizing a book of the Bible, praying about your worries, or singing praises for an hour are all wonderful things; but they do not save you.
Friend, don’t stop having quiet time because your motives aren’t godly. Simply ask God to work in your heart and life so you will have the right motives and keep doing the right thing. And never ever give up.