Did you have a good "quiet time"?

If that question makes you squirm, even just a tiny bit, it's okay - keep reading. Today I found a very encouraging article on Tim Challies' blog about "quiet times". I almost didn't read it, but I'm really glad I did.

Here's a quote:
In The Discipline of Grace, Jerry Bridges provides two scenarios and then a question. In the first, he describes a good day. “You get up promptly when your alarm goes off and have a refreshing and profitable quiet time as you read your Bible and pray. Your plans for the day generally fall into place, and you somehow sense that presence of God with you. To top it off, you unexpectedly have an opportunity to share the gospel with someone who is truly searching. As you talk with the person, you silently pray for the Holy Spirit to help you and to also work in your friend’s heart.” We’ve all had days like that. But we’ve also all had days like this: “You don’t arise at the first ring of your alarm. Instead, you shut it off and go back to sleep. When you awaken, it’s too late to have a quiet time. You hurriedly gulp down some breakfast and rush off to the day’s activities. You feel guilty about oversleeping and missing your quiet time, and things just generally go wrong all day. You become more and more irritable as the day wears on, and you certainly don’t sense God’s presence in your life. That evening, however, you unexpectedly have an opportunity to share the gospel with someone who is really interested in receiving Christ as Savior.” Bridges then asks if you would enter into those two witnessing opportunities with a different degree of confidence. Think about it for a moment. If you’re like most Christians, I suspect you would feel less confident about witnessing on a bad day then on a good day. You would feel less confidence that God would speak in and through you and that you would be able to share your faith forcefully and with conviction.

Why is it that we tend to think this way? According to Bridges, we’ve come to believe that God’s blessing on our lives is somehow conditional upon our spiritual performance. In other words, if we’ve performed well and done our quiet time as we ought to have done, we have put ourselves in a place where God can bless us. We may not consciously articulate this, but we prove that we believe it when we have a bad day and are certain that on this day we are absolutely unworthy of God’s blessings. This attitude “reveals an all-too-common misconception of the Christian life: the thinking that, although we are saved by grace, we earn or forfeit God’s blessings in our daily lives by our performance.”

Greg Johnson of St. Louis Center for Christian Study wrote an interesting tract entitled “Freedom from Quiet Time Guilt.” Johnson wrote about something I had only recently realized myself. “That half hour every morning of Scriptural study and prayer is not actually commanded in the Bible.” Imagine that. He goes on to say, “As a theologian, I can remind us that to bind the conscience where Scripture leaves freedom is a very, very serious crime. It’s legalism rearing its ugly little head again. We’ve become legalistic about a legalistic command. This is serious.” We have somehow allowed our quiet time, in its length, depth or consistency, to become the measure of our relationship with God. But “your relationship with God—or, as I prefer to say, God’s relationship with you—is your whole life: your job, your family, your sleep, your play, your relationships, your driving, your everything. The real irony here is that we’ve become accustomed to pigeonholing our entire relationship with God into a brief devotional exercise that is not even commanded in the Bible.” So what, then, does Scripture command? It commands that the Word of God be constantly upon your heart. You are to pray, to read the Scripture and to meditate upon it, but you are to do so from a joyful desire, and not mere performance-based duty. You are to do so throughout your whole life, and not merely for a few minutes each morning. Like Johnson, you will come to realize that the “goal isn’t that we pray and read the Bible less, but that we do so more—and with a free and needy heart.”


Andy C said…
I do have to work on making sure my quiet time does not become routine. I could easily let it become a check the box type of time if I do not actively work against that.
LiNdSeY said…
Wow! That was really good... thank you for sharing that. I working through that same works based sanctification struggle, and getting blessings because of my good deeds mindset. It's hard to break, but when you start back over from scratch with just the Gospel, it tends to make a difference! :) Especially when you don't have the option anymore!
The Scotts said…
Thanks for sharing Laurie that was really good. I am glad your Mother in law in better. How's your cough? We're praying for a job for your husband!
Laurie M. said…
Thanks Deb,
My cough is still hanging around, but seems to be getting incrementally better. Thanks for asking. We'll be on the road back home in about 2 hours. Please keep praying and we'll keep you posted. There's one job in particular that would be perfect - a rare opening in Paul's field of expertise/education. There are two others as well, one he applied for yesterday. All we hear everywhere is how hard it is, but we have to keep believing that God has a place for him somewhere.
Laurie M. said…

I like what you said: "Especially when you don't have the option anymore!"

Funny thing is, the gospel is always our only REAL option. For people who are good at following rules it's easy to forget our desperate need for Christ. For folks like me (and you, I think) who have trouble with "the program" the Gospel or despair are our only options.

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