Isn’t it upsetting to know that there is so much food around the world and that our Earth produces enough to feed every living body yet there is still so much poverty? Isn’t it even more upsetting to know that we have an infinite God who provides so much spiritual food for us yet we are all spiritually starving?
We have Bibles at our fingertips, youth meetings, Bible studies, Liturgies etc yet we are still so spiritually malnourished. We simply have no motivation to spiritually feed ourselves. What would your reaction be if you visited someone from a third world country and pitied them because they are malnourished, only to find their pantry and fridge filled with food? Needless to say, you could no longer pity them but rather rebuke them! We too have spiritual food within arms reach but don’t consume it to our benefit or sustenance. St Peter’s second epistle tells us that “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him” (2 Peter 1:3).
Just as the Earth produces enough food for every living body, Christ also provides life and godliness for every person who calls upon His name and grows in His knowledge.
Let us ask ourselves today, do we reach out to what Christ supplies us with? Do we strive to increase in His knowledge? Or are we merely “Church goers”?
When we know we’re having an important and large gathering at home, we often see our mothers scuffling around the house, preparing food, possibly even skipping the Sunday Liturgy to have the house ready for the gathering. So it’s no surprise that Martha, at Christ’s visit, left the place at His feet (next to her sister, Mary) and was busy with preparing the food, house etc. But just like Martha, we often get too carried away with matters of the world or even our services and forget that “one thing is needed” as Christ said to her (Luke 10:42), i.e. that which Mary chose. God has given us everything that we need in the Bible, in our relationship with Him, in our prayer time and all we are asked to do is shut our doors to the world and open our hearts to His word at His feet.
The second epistle of Timothy tells us that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). So, by growing in intimacy with God, we become aware of His word, His love and His will for us. Naturally, our every request will align to His desire for our lives. We will no longer be hungry for the world, but rather, for Him. Our requests will be less directed at our flesh, but rather, towards communion with Him. In our knowledge of Him and His word, we have gained instruction and correction for our own wellbeing.
So how do we reach this stage where we are only hungry for His word and eager to live by His will? Well, King David answers this question in the Psalms when He poetically says, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11). Excessively reflecting on something often causes us to worry about it. Similarly, reflecting on someone continuously often causes us to think like them or behave in their way. Here, King David illustrates this exact idea. By reflecting on God’s word and meditating on it in our hearts, we are more attuned to the commandment of God and are more sensitive to our own sins against Him.
If we thought often enough about God in our own everyday lives, we would find ourselves less available to our own desires and more focused on becoming more like Him who occupies our thoughts.
Why is quiet time important?
So with that all said, we can agree that it important to spend quiet time with God, meditating on His words, right? But why is it so necessary? What will we gain from it?
1) IT IS THE KEY TO PLEASING GOD: Psalm 29:2 says we should “give God the glory due to His name“. Quiet time is simply a time to stop reflecting on ourselves and be with Him who blessed us from birth. It is giving Him the attention we give ourselves all day. Start by telling God that you love Him and want to please Him. Can any one of us possibly be in a relationship and DO all the right things out of love but never SAY to our partners that we love them? Will a wife ever feel loved if her husband only ever paid the bills and washed the dishes but never said he loved her? No. Similarly, we cannot just do the right thing in our lives and avoid sin but never tell God how much we adore Him and worship Him. It is important for a Father to hear that His children love Him.
2) IT IS THE KEY TO BECOMING LIKE CHRIST: As Christians, naturally our goal is to be like Christ and this is impossible unless we spend time with Him. When we think about Christ more, we will automatically become more like Him. Similarly, if our spirit spends enough time with Him everyday, it will become more like Him.
3) IT IS THE KEY TO ANSWERED PRAYERS: Everybody wants their prayers to be answered but our prayers commonly take the shape of whatever preoccupies our thoughts. John 15:7 tells us if we abide in Him and His words abide in us, we will ask what we desire and it shall be done for us. However, if we truly spend time with Him and His word fills our hearts and lives, we will find that all our requests are in line with what He desires to give us. We will ask that He helps us to grow closer to Him and this is exactly what God wants for us.
4) IT IS THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL LIVING: In the first chapter of Joshua, we see one of the few times where we are promised “success”. The prophecy states that if we are to meditate on the “Book of the Law” and it does not depart from our mouths, our ways will be “prosperous” and we will have “good success”. Simply put, if we spend enough time with God and reflect on His love, we are promised “fullness of joy”. Of course, our definition of “fullness of joy” will differ depending on our proximity to God.
How do I make quiet time effective?
At first, there are really 5 easy steps to achieve meaningful and effective quiet time:
1) SELECT A SPECIFIC TIME: pick a reasonable and realistic time in the day. It’s not something you do at anytime, everyday. Usually, it is recommended in the morning for a couple of reasons:
- it is the time when you are most alert and your mind is most fresh (as opposed to those last few moments before you fall asleep, when the worries of the day have consumed you);
- it prepares you for the coming day (what benefit is there in studying AFTER an exam when you can prepare for it beforehand? David says “in the morning, Lord, you will hear my voice and I will await in expectation” (Psalm 5:3). This was his way of preparing for the day’s battles straight up, rather than halfway or at the end – when there is little or nothing left to prepare for!)
2) SELECT A SPECIFIC PLACE: on a daily basis, pick a special, physical place that you withdraw, be in solitude and disconnect yourself from the world, technology, people, etc. Like Christ went to the Mount of Olives, “as He was accustomed” to pray (Luke 22:39), this should not be spontaneous. At your ‘Mount of Olives’, shut your door and actively communicate with God.
3) GO PREPARED: select all the resources you’ll need before you head off: a Bible, a pen, a journal. Do not use a travel Bible or non-editable e-Bible. Use a large font Bible where you can write notes and add commentary. Use a journal to track your spiritual progress. In the Old Testament, Moses was commanded to keep note of all the works of the Lord. In doing this, we can look back and reflect on our journey with God. We can acknowledge how much we have overcome with Him. We can stop and track the curves and speedbumps we’ve overcome in the spiritual struggle and look forward with hope. Reflecting on this very journey gives us another opportunity to thank Him for His endless love, lessons and assistance.
4) BEGIN WITH THE RIGHT ATTITUDE: one of reverence, expectancy, obedience. Close your eyes and, remembering to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10), enter into His presence with awe and reverence. Stop doubting and have confidence that God will hear your prayers. Know that in every quiet time, He is present and listening to you. Ask the important questions: is there a sin to confess? An attitude to change? An example to follow or an error to avoid? A truth to believe or a particular blessing to thank God for? Hear His word and be obedient to His message. If you have opened your heart to His word and have heard a message that is against your will (for instance, end a particular relationship, stop a bad habit), be submissive to God .
5) FOLLOW A SIMPLE PLAN: Create a routine that includes the Bible, the Gospels, hymns, contemplations, conversation with God – whatever it is that enhances your close connection to Him. Create realistic goals – for example, do quiet time 5 times a week or contemplate on 5 Psalms a day. Most importantly, Don’t just be a hearer of the Word but a doer also (James 1:22). That is, apply God’s word in your life. What we mean by this is to let these moments with God affect your life by making a conscious effort to be transformed by the renewing of your mind in Him (Romans 12:2).
What’s your big rock?
As a final thought, let’s think about this:
A lecturer once demonstrated to his Business students the importance of time management. He took out a jar and filled it very carefully with large rocks until the jar could no longer fit any more. He then asked his students, “Is the jar full?” to which they responded, “Yes it is!” The lecturer then pulled out a bag of gravel and poured it into the jar. The gravel naturally fell between the rocks until it reached the surface. He asked again, “Is the jar full?” They, understanding his tactic, hesitantly replied, “Probably not.” He then pulled out a bag of sand and poured it in. Again, this filled the cracks between the gravel and rocks. He asked again and they answered, “No way!” He then pulled out a pitcher or water and filled the jar to the brim. He then asked, “What was the lesson learned here?” One student confidently replied, “No matter how full your schedule may be, if you try hard enough, you can always make time for more!” And the lecturer replied, “That’s a nice lesson but not what I’m demonstrating here. The lesson is, if you don’t put the big rocks in FIRST, you’ll never get them in.”
Similarly, quiet time with God is the big rock of our day. Unless we make a conscious effort to have that time with Him, we may never fit it in. Sitting at Christ’s feet wasn’t a natural decision for Mary, it was something she consciously did and left the services and preparations that preoccupied her sister.
Get those big rocks in first today and the smaller elements will fit in later.
SAYG ~ anonymous.