Tim and Jill Way

Adventures of the Way Family

quiet time

I need a quiet time with the Lord each day in order to make it.  I really do.  And, ummm…. so do you.  For much of my Christian life, I thought this whole idea was a real drag.  In fact, it’s been such a struggle for me over the years, that I feel somewhat hypocritical in writing about it.  So that’s why I need to tell the truth.  I used to hate the idea of having to get up early and try to pray and read the Bible every stinkin day.  Actually, I reasoned I could give myself a break on Sundays since I was going to church anyway, and there would be plenty of praying, worshipping, and Bible there.  To be fair, there were occasions when I sort of liked it.  There were seasons when it was better, and I would walk in the realization of how much I needed it.

When my wife and I first went to live in Africa, we served under a mission that required us to sign a statement saying we would spend at least an hour in personal prayer and Bible Study every day.  When we first arrived in Uganda, it was incredible.  I lived with such a constant awareness of my need for help from heaven, that the hour-a-day was no problem at all.  I was being assaulted by all kinds of stuff that was so new to me, and I was desperate for God.  But as the months and then years went by, I got more comfortable.  I lost the desperation.  And horrible pangs of guilt would strike me once every year when we opened the mail and found the dreaded document from our mission – the renewal of the prayer covenant.  Guilt.  My devotional life could be summarized with a few words:  inconsistent.  guilt.  bland.  Yes, I’d sign the repulsive form – with genuine repentance and determination to do better.  It never lasted.

In Africa, I used to go on mission trips with my Ugandan fellow-workers from time to time.  It was crazy.  Inevitably, after experiencing a restless few hours of sleep because of the newness of the place, the fear of rats, or whatever, I’d hear the infuriating sound.  My friend (or friends) would be up praying.  And don’t think this was a ‘quiet time.’  Oh no.  We’re talking serious spiritual warfare, binding demons, crying out to God, singing, worshipping, intense, fervent, passionate prayer.  I’d look at my clock (4:00 in the freakin morning!”) groan, roll over, put whatever was serving as my pillow over my head, and try to get back to blissful slumber.  I was annoyed.  I’d eventually fade back out, only to wake up several hours later with that familiar companion rubbing it in – guilt.

Oh, but please listen to me!  Prayer is a beautiful gift to you from your Creator.  The Bible is an incomparable treasure.  And you desperately need to spend time with Jesus each day.  You know it with your head.  You’ve heard it dozens of times.  You’ve told others.  You agree with me.  But have you grasped it in the deep part of your heart?  It is true!  You need this.  Jesus Himself was all about prayer.  He was always trying to get away and hang with his Father.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.  Mark 1:35

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.  Luke 5:16

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.  Luke 6:12

About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.  Luke 9:28

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”  Luke 11:1

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”  Mark 14:32

God calls us to pray and read the Bible and fast and worship and all that stuff for a reason.  It’s not meant to be a drag or to constantly wear us down with guilt.  It’s because we need it.  I have a passion within me to know Jesus and to live for him and his glory.  It burns in my heart.  I really believe I’d do anything to bring it about.  But I know this from experience:  passions can fade.  They can lose their heat.  I don’t want to lose this passion, so I gotta feed it.  I have to fan it into flame.

This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.  2 Tim 1:6  (NLT)

There’s some stuff that we need to fight to keep.  Our passion for Jesus is one of them.  Our desire for his glory.  Our determination for our lives to count for him.  Our longing for his Kingdom to come.

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.   Matthew 6:33  (NLT)

Seek it.  Fan it into flame.  That’ why all this stuff – what we sometimes call spiritual disciplines – is so important.  It’s how we fan the flame, seek the Kingdom, feed the passion.  This is one of the secrets to maintaining steady, guilt-free, sweet quiet times with the Lord – to know why we’re doing it.  We’re doing it because we love him, we want to know him, we need it just to stay saved, and to keep the godly passions ablaze in our hearts.  Here are a few other ideas as to how to maintain a quiet time:

1   Be accountable.  D-groups are great for this, and have been a big help for me.  Confessing my failures and speaking out my goals truly helps me to be more consistent.  Find a friend or two to do this with.  Encourage and exhort one another.  Do not make excuses for each other.  Spur one another on!

2   Focus on grace, not guilt.  Receive God’s grace when you fail.  When you miss a day or two.  When you do pray but you don’t believe, or you do read the Bible but you don’t focus.  This is not a duty.  It’s not something God requires of you just because.  This is your food.  You don’t beat yourself up if you miss breakfast.  It just makes you extra ready for lunch.  Be motivated by hunger, not guilt.

3   Get inspired.  Read books about prayer.  Listen to audio teachings.  Find things that motivate and encourage you in prayer.  Fan the flame.

4   Pray according to the pattern Jesus taught in Matthew 6:9-13.  This could be an in-depth teaching in itself, but briefly it could broken down like this:

>    Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name: Approach God as your Father.  Meditate on this.  And then worship him. Lay your life before him as a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1)

>    your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Surrender yourself to God’s will today.  Commit yourself to pursuing what he wants.  In praying for his kingdom to come, intercede for others.  Pray for the lost.  This is spiritual warfare.  Be fervent!

>     Give us today our daily bread.  Make your requests known to God.  He invites you to ask for what you need.

>    Forgive us our sins, as we also have forgiven those who have sinned against us. Ask the Lord to reveal your sins to you, and repent of them one by one.  Also consciously forgive anyone who has offended you.

>    And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. Ask for help to overcome sin today.  You know the areas where you are likely to struggle.  Get help from heaven!  Also pray against every scheme and attack of the enemy.

>   For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever.  Amen. End with declaring and reminding yourself that it’s all his, and all about him.

Do this as a pattern, but be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.  Don’t let your time with Jesus denigrate into a business meeting.  Be flexible and spontaneous as well.  Use the form, but don’t get stuck in it.

5   Journal.  A prayer journal has been a terrific help in my quiet times.  I pray and read the Bible, but I also take time to write out what’s happening within me.  I often do this as a prayer, but it’s always a different experience than a spoken prayer.  I write about what’s bothering me or what I’m excited about or what I’m learning.  I love to write what I sense God may be speaking to me, and what he’s been teaching me through a sermon or an experience or the Bible or another person or simply from his Spirit speaking in my heart.  I love this.

Ask God to help you.  He wants to help you in this.  He wants to spend quality time with you.  He wants to abide with you.  Keep asking him.  Don’t give up.  He will increase your desire.


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