“Quiet time” is a phrase that’s become somewhat of a Christian cliche. Whenever I hear this phrase, I know someone is referring to their time spent reading the Bible, praying, and possibly journaling. But when used outside of a Christian context, “quiet time” sounds a lot like something a young child might participate in instead of nap time.
Not only has “quiet time” become a bit cliche, it also waters down the importance of what actually takes place during this time, and that’s growing in our relationship with Jesus. And along with the term being watered down, the time itself also has a potential to become a very watered down experience.
I’m sure we’ve all been there. We come back from a retreat or mission trip on a “spiritual high.” We’re on fire for God and feel as though we are experiencing Him more than ever. Even without a special retreat or trip we have moments like this. But sooner or later, we find ourselves stuck in that dry spot with God, feeling unmotivated and unexcited about spending time with Him. Quiet time feels like more of a chore or checklist than a refreshing and enlightening time spent getting to know our Creator.
This lack of hunger for God often feels disheartening and frustrating, like we’re doing something wrong or that God just doesn’t want to speak to us, but this isn’t true; God is always pursuing us, we just have to slow down and be still enough to realize it.
If you have trouble slowing down and being still, you’re in the right place. I’m going to share with you three practices I implement — ones that you can as well — to connect with Jesus.
Little disclaimer — I am by no means perfect at this. I have trouble staying consistent with my quiet times on a weekly basis. The truth is, we have to prioritize our time with Jesus and make time for Him, otherwise He will slide to the back burner of our minds. It takes intention, discipline, and desire to consistently connect with our Creator, but it is so, so worth it.
Alright, now that that’s out of the way, let’s jump right in!
- Reading the Bible
Okay you guys, I know this one is a little obvious, but studying your Bible is crucial. Reading your Bible is one of the simplest ways to hear from God and learn more about Him.
There are many ways to read the Bible: one book/chapter at a time, cover to cover, chronologically, alongside a devotion or plan, entire books in one sitting, etc.
Before I started reading the Bible consistently, I always wondered where to start. If you are new to reading your Bible, or if it’s been a while since you picked yours up, I recommend either starting with the Gospels or starting a one-year Bible reading plan. I did this when I was 14 and it was challenging, but definitely worth it; choosing to read the Bible in one year is what developed my faith and relationship with God.
There are also several apps you can download that provide you with additional resources, be it a reading plan, devotion, video, or audio guide. Here are some that I currently use or have used in the past:
- The Bible App — this is not just your basic Bible app, there are a variety of devotionals and reading plans throughout this app ranging from reading the Bible in a year to dealing with depression or anxiety. This is the app that provided me with a one-year Bible plan!
- Bible Project — This is a Youtube channel that gives viewers a run-down on the books of the Bible, themes throughout scripture, characters, and more. They also have an app called Read Scripture that maps out a reading plan for you and also gives a video to help explain. I watched the Bible Project’s videos a lot while living in Slovenia and each one is extremely helpful and interesting. Not to mention the visuals are great.
- Through the Word (TTW) — This app is a more recent discovery of mine, and I have been using it each morning before reading my chapter for the day. This app provides listeners with an audio guide to go along with each chapter of the Bible. It’s designed for people who are “on the go” because after the audio guide plays, the chapter that was just discussed also plays. I always skip this and read it by myself, but of course, you can do whatever works best for you. While you can listen to the audio guides book by book, the app also has thematic plans like End Times, Leadership, and Peace. This app provides valuable insight and always leaves me with something new.
Once you figure out a solid rhythm and schedule for reading, I recommend making time for prayer as well, which leads right to my second practice!
When you think of prayer, what comes to mind? Perhaps the Lord’s prayer or the blessing before a meal? Maybe you think of a pastor using eloquent language in front of a congregation or your own prayers which may or may not consist of you rambling away to God and getting a bit lost in thought along the way (guilty).
But what if I told you prayer is so much more than any of the aforementioned. Prayer is not us simply talking to God, it’s an opportunity for us to listen to Him and connect with Him on a deeper, spiritual level.
In my honors course last semester, we read St. Teresa of Avila’s The Interior Castle, and this changed everything for me. St. Teresa’s method of prayer was the answer to the longing I had for a deeper relationship and connection with the Almighty.
In a nutshell, Teresa’s method of prayer involves a more meditative-like prayer. One that involves listening to the Holy Spirit and simply being with God more than asking anything of Him. When I engage in this kind of prayer, I like to read a chapter or passage from scripture beforehand and then meditate on any verses that stood out to me for at least 10-15 minutes, the longer the better.
The goal of praying like this is not to experience or feel something, but to simply spend time with Jesus, enjoying His presence.
I’ve noticed that this prayer and connection with God plays a big role in the level of peace I have. For the past week and a half, I haven’t been engaging with God in this deep, reflective state of prayer, and my anxiety has been through the roof.
The weeks when I do spend this time with God, I may still deal with my fair share of anxiety, but it doesn’t consume me because I am centered, grounded, and rooted in Truth. I am only just starting to realize how necessary and dependent I am upon Jesus for my peace and wellbeing.
After I’ve spent time in prayer, I often take time to write down my thoughts, what God is teaching me, and anything else that’s on my mind, which leads to my third and final practice.
Journaling is a valuable tool that I could not recommend more. It allows you to process what you are thinking and tangibly reflect on what you’ve read. I use a regular journal and also a prayer journal, where I write down prayers to God.
Journaling has always been an outlet for me. When it comes to growing my relationship with the Lord specifically, it provides a way for me to reflect and process what I’m learning, look back and see how I’ve grown, and understand the ways in which God has worked in my life. Overall, it’s a great to tool to gain insight into your past self’s struggles, triumphs, confusion, pain, and joy, and how the Lord provided through it all.
There’s really not enough I could say about journaling but I also don’t know how to put into words the wondrous effects this practice has had on my relationship with God throughout the past six and a half years.
If you don’t journal already, or if you have neglected it for some time, I hope you’ll start and experience all the wonderful and profound moments that come along with this practice.
Before closing, I’d like to remind you that spending time with God is not something that is simply going to happen. You have to plan, make time, and stay disciplined. This week I encourage you to reflect on your priorities and where the Lord and your faith falls among that list.
To wrap up, I’ll leave you with this:
As a part of the Lord’s prayer, Matthew 6:11 says, “Give us this day our daily bread.” And in John 6:35, Jesus states, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
Any coincidence that in the Lord’s prayer we are taught to ask God for our daily bread and that Jesus calls Himself the bread of life? I think not.
So with that, I hope you find peace, joy, and contentment in pursuing a deeper relationship with Jesus: the Bread of Life and our Daily Bread. He truly is the only one that can satisfy.
Grace and Peace,