First, what is a quiet time anyway?
Anyone who has grown up around the church of a certain has likely heard countless sermons or lessons about a quiet time. Perhaps this is you and you’ve tried the S.O.A.P. method (scripture, observation, application, prayer.) Or maybe you were encouraged to try and read the entire Bible in a year. Maybe you were told to wake up early to make time with the Lord your first action of the day.
Regardless of your method, most Western Christians have been told the importance of a quiet time. But, if it’s such an important part of a Christ follower’s life, how do we account for those who did not (and maybe still do not) have access to a Bible?
Over 1.5 billion people around the world still do not have access to a written version of the Bible. Yet many still can have a rich experience with the Lord.
So what is the point of quiet time anyway?
And how can you lead your church (or maybe yourself) into a more fulfilling time with the Lord?
Here are a few different ways you can talk to your church about quiet time:
1. His Presence is the purpose.
While not everyone has access to the written word of God, we all have access to the Holy Spirit. One of the primary purposes of a quiet time is to experience the presence of God and to invite His Presence into our everyday lives.
Sure, it is easy for quiet time to become a box we check off. A little spiritual blip in our day. But what if a quiet time became less about a set time each morning or night and more about regularly inviting the Holy Spirit into our whole life?
What might happen if we stopped trying to fit the presence of God into a tiny, scheduled part of our life?
2. What would Jesus do?
In the Bible, we see Jesus modeling how to spend time in the presence of God. One of the most interesting aspects is that He doesn’t limit time with His Father to solitary moments. There are times when He separates from the crowds and meditates on Scripture (Matthew 14:23, Mark 1:35, Luke 4:42, Luke 5:16, Luke 6:12, Matthew 26:36,39, just to name a few). But we know that He also spent time in community, talking about the things of God. And it wasn’t just on the Sabbath! It was a part of His personal life and His public life.
What if we made a practice of drawing away to spend time with the Lord and gathering together?
3. Different styles, same purpose.
Up until recently, conversations around a quiet time tended towards ableism. There are many reasons why it may be difficult for someone to spend thirty minutes reading the Bible every day – and most of them aren’t a lack of interest. Chronic illness, visual impairment, and even attention span or mental health struggles can make a more traditional quiet time feel nearly impossible.
Thankfully, there are many ways to spend time with the Lord. Point your church towards short audio Bible lessons, video-based studies, or start posting short daily devotional podcasts for the sole purpose of helping people develop this spiritual discipline.
Worship music can also be an incredible way to experience the presence of God. (Psalm 100:1-4)
For those who get easily overwhelmed by annual reading plans, focusing on a single book of the Bible or diving deep into a topic can be a great way to change how you spend time with the Lord. Even meditating on a single verse can be hugely beneficial when you invite the Holy Spirit to speak as you read.
Followers of Jesus should absolutely be all about reading their Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17), but if someone is able to absorb the Word of God and fall more thoroughly in love with God’s Word when they go a verse at a time, we should celebrate that and encourage this holy habit until it becomes a holy devotion. Remember the goal — people spending time in the Presence of God and infusing His Presence into our lives.
4. Accountability through celebration.
You might already do this, but simply refreshing how we talk about a quiet time can make a huge difference. Sometimes, this starts with shifting the questions we ask. Instead of asking someone what they’ve been reading, ask how the Lord has been speaking to them lately. This puts the focus back on the voice of the Lord, not just some chore on a checklist.
Mostly, though, it makes space for conversations filled with the presence of God, not conversations that come with a hint of guilt and side of shame. For many, the idea of a quiet time is tied to these feelings. We’re told what we should do, and whether intended or not, “shoulds” often come with baggage.
This air of shame strips away the joy and the anticipation of time with the Lord, and belongs no where near such a divine moment in the life of every believer.
What if we held each other accountable by celebrating the words we’ve received from the Lord?
What if we gave each other a way to share what we’ve been learning?
What if the Church was seen as a community devoted and desperate for the presence of God, not just as keepers of the religious rites, rituals, and rules?
What if our quiet times are the loudest ways to demonstrate our love for God?
Emily Towns, Staff Writer, Paper Giants