Spending Time with God On Your Own

Spending Time with God On Your Own

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‘Quiet time is not an excuse for the lazy but a wise investment for the diligent. It is for those who are committed to being active servants and followers of Jesus Christ instead of slaves to the tyranny of urgent busyness and activity’. – Priscilla Shirer

If you knew me well, you’d know I cannot start a day right without my quiet time. Or I can, but the day I subsequently have barely feels like a good day at all! On days without my quiet time I am a completely different person: I am more tense, less secure, more self-centred, and less expectant. I come to this resolution regularly, when I get out of my bed and think I can get a head start on my plans and to-do list, leaving God out of them.

I most recently came to this hypothesis after a family holiday away in Spain, where I was sharing a room and often felt I had to cut my usual quiet times short or skip them altogether (I couldn’t be seen uncommitted to the daily ‘Squad Schedule’ or breakfast planning meeting!). However, during the holiday for all the sunshine and dream-scapes, I found myself more agitated, as if my whole body was tense with the pressure of ‘trying to [more than one thing in the blank]’.

My trying to be or feel self-sufficient showed just how much I was not.

I almost didn’t recognise myself (how I was acting and thinking) because actively spending time in God’s word transforms and renews us (Romans 12: 2). It’s for this reason that I don’t just need my quiet time, I crave it. It is what teaches me that I am not in control and trains my soul to be still and know (Psalm 46: 10, Psalm 42: 1-2).

 ‘If you had felt yourself sufficient, it would have been proof that you were not’ – Aslan to Prince Caspian, CS Lewis.

1.   Spending time with God: the Who not the What

What even is a ‘quiet time’? Let me cut to the chase: it’s Jesus (sorry spoilers). It’s always, undeniably, relentlessly Jesus. Whatever the form of your ‘quiet time’, if it’s a space cultivated to grow your relationship with Jesus then you’ve absolutely nailed it. Changing our views on time with God from something we have to do as Christians and looking at it instead with a sense of wondrous expectancy (‘Can you believe we get to do this?!’) will inevitably raise our faith and transform our quiet times.

“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.” Romans 8: 15 MSG

2)  Spending time with God: the How

My mum is one of my greatest role-models, and it seems I have taken after one of her stranger habits. My mum will get up around 5.45 and every day no-excuses, spend at least an hour reading Scripture and praying. The kettle will be boiled, and she’ll be ready to do battle on her knees. This diligence inspires me, and although there are definitely days I mess up, if I aim to set an earlier than necessary alarm, grab my tea (and overnight oats if I’m really organised) and get out my Bible and pray, I know that whatever happens, it’ll be a good day.

Now, I know mornings are subjective – but, hear me out, the way you start your day unquestionably affects the entirety of it.

"When we wake up in the morning and turn our phone over to see a list of notifications it frames the experience of 'waking up in the morning' around a menu of 'all the things I've missed since yesterday.'" – Tristan Harris Google’s Design Ethicist

Our phones can be our worst enemy in terms of spending time with God. They distract us; cajoling our spirits into FOMO and other ungrateful mentalities which stop us rejoicing in the new mercies of the morning. Carving out a set time of your day where you choose to focus on God’s word (who He says you are, what He values, what He thinks about your life and your plans) grounds our identities, builds our faith-foundations, and encourages intimacy with our Father.

Jesus communicates Himself to us through God’s Word and the Word made flesh by His Holy Spirit.

Let the Word thrill you! Meditate on it. Walk and pray verses out loud. Listen to the worshipful Psalms. Read, stop, and read again. Commit verses to memory. Scribble them across your walls (or notebooks if you’re renting). Pray in the quiet. Wait for His prompting. Listen.

3.     Spending time with God: the Why

If we call ourselves apprentices under the leadership of Jesus, then we better look at why Jesus retreated to quiet places. More than once, Jesus peels off to hidden places for secret conversation with God (Matthew 6:6). He “was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Matthew 4:1), “went out to a desolate place” (Mark 1:35; Luke 4:42), and “went up on the mountain by himself to pray . . . alone” (Matthew 14:23). Jesus embodies that true soul rest is found only in God (Psalm 63), or as Augustine writes:

‘Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee’.




A more few practical tips for carving out quiet times:

1.         Have a reminder (an alarm, a note, a friend who keeps you accountable). Subscribing to our emails is another good way to jog your memory throughout the day!   

2.         Set a goal. Good habits begin with small, daily choices. If you say you’ll try read your Bible for 10 minutes each morning, the likeliness is you won’t, but you’ll do it more times than if you had no goal.

3.         Put your phone away, or on flight mode when you’re reading your Bible. It’s harder to hear God’s ‘still small voice’ amidst a buzz of notifications. Give God your full attention and presence.  

3.         Don’t feel guilty if you miss a day or a week! There is nothing the Devil hates more than you spending time with God, but he’ll trick you into feeling unworthy when you don’t. Remember the Father’s heart is for you – then go tell the Devil ‘Not today!’

4.         It’s not religion, it’s a relationship. You’d probably get bored if you always did the same thing with your best friend, so don’t be afraid of chopping and changing things a bit! There is beauty (and true discipline) to be found in routine, but if you’re getting restless try something different!

5.         Have a devotional book that you do each day (we have a list of recommendations here). Bible in One Year is an app which goes through a Psalm, and a New and Old Testament passage every day, and there’s the option to listen to it too. The Bible App has a huge variety of great reading plans. Journal what you’re learning (and any questions you might have) along the way.

6.         Begin and end with Jesus. One of my favourite authors, John Mark Comer, says his quiet times are for denying his ‘self’ and re-orientating his life each day around Jesus. He suggests picturing Jesus on the cross, and imagining himself climbing onto it, and visualises nailing his daily disordered desires (an anger, a greed, a want, etc.) to the cross. He ends picturing himself walking out of the tomb, into bright-light-filled resurrection life (You can listen to the rest of his talk here). What a transformative way to start the day!

7.         Pray:

Give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I may know you better. Enlighten the eyes of my heart. Open my eyes to your power. Open my eyes to your wisdom. Open my eyes to your inheritance. Blow me away with the unsearchable riches in your Word. Now help me to live my life with the belief that your Word is true and the hope that there is goodness around the corner. Amen.


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Abi

Having graduated from Durham, Abi is based in Brighton doing a Leadership Development Year with her church St Peter's Brighton, while pursuing a Masters in Peacebuilding and Reconciliation. You will often find her engaging with all the lovely More Precious social media followers and curating creative Instagram stories!

 

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