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Are you wondering how to have a consistent Quiet Time?
Yep, me too. I have grappled with this very question for years. Personally, the idea of a perfect daily time with God is incredibly appealing. I think it is so attractive because there is a suggestion that if I do things just right, a consistent and satisfying time with God is always achievable! Yet it never happens.
For years, 40 years to be exact, I have scoured mountains of resources, listened to hundreds of sermons, and picked other Christian brothers and sister’s brains for tips and techniques on the best practices for this daily event. Don’t get me wrong, I have gleaned tons of valuable information from these sources, but there are five things none of my sources ever told me about daily devotions and I want to share them with you because I am pretty sure you haven’t heard them either.
I wish I had been told is this simple truth –
Your Quiet Time Will Be Inconsistent.
The Downward Spiral of Inconsistent Quiet Time
There is nothing quite like a new Bible study. The sheer potential this blank book contains stretches out in front of us. Crisp white pages waiting to contain the fresh insights and discoveries we will make during our daily time in the Word. The first week goes well. We set the alarm and get up every day and meet with the Lord, the second week the reality of the schedule is starting to set in and a day or two is missed. By week three, we are losing your steam and miss a few more days. Failed again.
In our minds, we start to beat ourselves up with accusations like this…
“Why can’t I follow through with anything?”
“What is wrong with me?”
“Maybe I am lazy…”
And the harder we try, the more we miss our target of consistent daily time with God in the Word.
My Inconsistent Quiet Time Experience
My mom knew me inside and out. After all, I was her long-awaited girl and she knew me from my first breath until her last. She watched me, actually studied me and knew me longer than all my friends. One time, while having one of our conversations about my desire to have a schedule, she gave me some very important feedback. She stated, “The only consistent thing in your life is your inconsistency.”
Well, thanks a lot Mom. But, after pondering this stinging comment, I determined it was true. This is my nature. I like and have always liked variety! After all, “Variety is the spice of life!” Having a consistent Quiet Time or at least what I thought it was, went against my nature because I am naturally inconsistent.
Reframing Consistency in Quiet Time
“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1). This psalm speaks volumes and helps explain the paradox we are discussing. Our daily devotions might be inconsistent, yet we steadfastly long for time alone with Him. Daily, we crave those holy moments when we catch a glimpse of His character and He meets us where we are and loves us just the same. This hunger for time with Him never changes…but how we acquire these moments do. See, no one ever mentions there will be a daily fight to obtain an unwavering, unchanging, time with God each morning.
Most of us have yet to reach perfect constancy with quiet time, and if we have (and you are a variety lover like me) it probably won’t last very long because our days on this earth, no matter how hard we try to control them, are in a constant state of ebb and flow. Seasons change, situations alter, new health issues arise, children are born, children leave home, new schedules are recreated and our time in the Word shifts slightly or drops off entirely and we become discouraged.
We Are Inconsistent but He Isn’t
Here is some good news. Paul reminds us, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot disown Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13) Our myopic focus on our inconsistencies can trip us up when we fixate on what is “wrong” with us rather than what is “right” with Him. God, the One Who doesn’t change (Malachi 3:6) is always active, and faithfully working in our lives.
Are you are inconsistent? Turn your heart’s gaze off of your failure to His unfailing character. When I beat myself up for being inconsistent and want to hide from His presence, I remember of one of my favorite verses “My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” Song of Solomon 2:14. He loves me and wants to meet with me even if I struggle with a regular.
Four Ways to Shape Regular Time In The Word
#1 Plan- Find a plan that works for you!
I have already confessed that I have been through a variety of different study methods. They work until I need a change. Right now, at the risk of sounding like I am blowing my own horn, for the last *gasp* five years, I enjoy Bible study I wrote called Selah. Take a look at an overview of the Selah Method is here.
The Hebrew musical term Selah is used specifically in the psalms or poetry of the Bible. This ancient word means to pause and listen. Selah invites you to pause and listen to a specific portion of scripture for five days by doing several planned activities in your quiet time. The Selah Method works for me and boredom is a thing of the past because scripture has so many layers to explore. You can purchase these Bible studies here!
Having a daily plan helps with consistency! Search for a plan that works for you to stay with, and stay with it until it doesn’t. Go ahead! Move on to the next plan, and keep looking for ways to digest the Word of God that works for you
#2 Time- Find a time that works for you!
I find early morning, before the news, while having coffee works for me at this stage in my life. My mind is usually sharpest in the morning and I don’t mind watching the sunrise as I meet with the Lord through the Scripture. It might be during children’s nap time for you or when they are off to school. Be flexible and have grace with yourself.
#3 Place- Find a place that works for you!
Over the years, the place I meet Him has varied. Right now, it is in my office at my desk, but when my children were younger it was in the living room on the couch so I could hear the pitter-patter of little feet when they arose. Discover the place or places that work for you and realize it might change.
#4 Accountability- Find a group of people!
There is something incredibly motivating about meeting with a group who are cheering for me as we study Scripture together. Better yet, when I facilitate or lead a group my desire to be prepared skyrockets and I use this leverage as motivation for me in my daily time with Him. Another idea is to start a Bible study with a group of friends or people at church who can encourage you to have that time in the Word daily while preparing for a small group Bible study.
So, let me repeat this simple fact. There will be times when Quiet Time will be inconsistent.
My suggestion is to make regular time in the Word your goal but understand you will fail; however, God never does. Take your eyes off yourself and run back to Him again and again. This is where our true consistency lies.
Next time, in our blog post series on the 5 things No One Ever Told Me About Quiet Time we will explore boredom.
Let me know what you think and email me here is you have any comments or questions!