I just finished re-reading a book I’ve come to love by Robert J. Morgan called Simple: The Christian Life Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated.
I love this little book. It is a very easy read (only 92 pages) and can be read in one sitting. I’ve loved every single book I’ve read by Robert Morgan. His writing just always, always speaks to me. You can read this post to find out the uncanny way that I became familiar with this author and his books (I will never forget that day and I really did feel, perhaps for the first time in my life, that God was tapping me on the shoulder, and trying hard to lead me to something). It was serendipity and I truly believe God led me to this man and his books. Dr. Morgan can get me to understand things – things I’ve longed struggled to understand. I just believe he has such a gift for teaching and writing. I had the honor and pleasure of visiting his church and getting to meet him on a day that he was preaching. I discovered that he is the nicest man. But after having read his blog, I already knew that he would be. All visitors that day received a brand new copy of his book The Red Sea Rules.
The next to the last chapter in the book, and my favorite chapter, is called d = devotions. In this chapter, Dr. Morgan says:
Nothing is more important to the Christian than the practice of having a daily appointment with the Lord, a regular period of daily Bible study and prayer. Some people call this daily devotions. Others, the morning watch. Still others refer to their quiet time. It’s the missing ingredient in many a Christian life.
I can only say AMEN to that! This is an area in my Christian walk that I repeatedly fail at.
Many years ago, I tried to establish a “quiet time” and it was anything but quiet. I tried going into my living room and shutting the two white French doors but my two cats, who were upset about not getting invited to the party, made that time anything but “quiet.” They meowed and wailed as if I had left them forever. They pawed and banged at the door until I was convinced the two French doors were going to come crashing down. My phone rang constantly. The telemarketers always seemed to know when my “quiet time” was. I actually found myself apologizing to God for how “unquiet” my time was with Him. I imagined Him laughing. Or maybe shaking His head. In short, I didn’t stick to it, but I have never stopped feeling a strong pull towards wanting, even deeply craving, my time with Him. I learned Satan will do just about anything he can to keep us from having quality time alone with our Lord.
Whenever I read about quiet time with God, it’s usually always associated or recommended that it be done in the early morning hours. Ugh. I’m so not a morning person (hence the tagline of my blog) and I find myself even a little envious of morning larks and wishing I was one. And at 61 years of age, I don’t think I’m ever going to be a morning person. And so I’ve always felt somewhat guilty that I’m not up before sunrise with the chickens spending time with God in the early morning hours of my day. I personally have discovered that the times I have succeeded at spending quality time with God, have always been late at night. So why do I feel I’m doing it wrong or somehow failing?
Robert Morgan gives two words of warning pertaining to quiet time in this chapter that I thought were particularly good and helpful. The first warning:
It’s important to realize that a daily quiet time does not represent the totality of our fellowship with God. It doesn’t mean that we can meet God in the morning and then leave Him there in the closet while we go into the day. The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. In other words, communion and fellowship with God is the constant privilege of the Christian.
His second caution:
It’s important to realize that a daily quiet time is not simply a routine or a ritual. It’s a relationship. We meet Christ at the cross, and we call that conversion. We meet with Him in the closet, and we call that conversation. At the cross is where we come to know Christ, and in the closet is where we come to know him better.
He goes on to say (and I LOVED all of this):
The quiet time is essentially a conversation, a time of fellowship, a daily meeting or appointment with the Lord. It isn’t a complicated thing, and the simpler we can keep it the better. It isn’t even always necessary to have a Bible. Sometimes it’s nice just to go for a walk and spend some time meditating on some verse of memorized Scripture, and then talking to the Lord about it and praying over the things that concern you.
Usually, however, it’s very helpful to have a Bible. And remember that you aren’t reading your Bible to get through a certain amount of Scripture or to prepare a sermon or to develop a Sunday School or Bible study lesson. You’re going to the Bible in order to find nourishment for your soul.
And then he explains how he carries out his quiet time. He follows a two-step plan. Scripture and prayer. He prefers morning times with a cup of coffee, picks up his Bible and starts reading where he left off the day before. He just reads until he finds a verse that really speaks to him. He doesn’t hurry and he doesn’t read a set amount of verses. He underlines or jots the verse down in his notebook. In the book, he talks about how Mrs. Ruth Bell Graham was the one who recommended to him that he use a notebook during quiet time. Then he prays. So he reads, meditates on the verse that spoke to him, and then he prays. Simple, huh? He also uses a pen to journal in that same notebook. He journals about what he’s feeling or how his day is going. He also keeps a prayer list in that notebook. He says not everyone will want to keep a notebook so he recommends using the margin of your bible as an “ad hoc” journal.
I have The One Year Bible. You know, the one where each day you read an Old Testament reading, a New Testament reading, a reading from Psalms and a reading from Proverbs.
If you stick to the daily readings, you’ve completed the entire Bible in a year. I’ve tried multiple times to stick to it and I never have. The same thing happens every time. I get way behind and then I have several “cram” sessions to catch up. It hasn’t been a meaningful way for me to read the Bible. I like the concept (to read the Bible in a year) but it just hasn’t work for me.
Dr. Morgan recommends having your own special place and time to have your quiet time. Jesus was often known to go into the mountains to pray and when in Jerusalem, the Garden of Gethsemane. It can be a closet or a pantry. It’s anywhere you can find to be alone with God.
For you it might be the kitchen table, the front seat of your car, or your bedside at night. And that brings up another question. Does it have to be in the morning? No. If the evening is better for you, or the midnight hours, or the noon hour during lunch break, that’s fine. We each need to find the routine that works for us.
I so needed to hear that. My time with God does not need to be in the early mornings when I’m feeling like a zombie. I’m sure God is happy to have me spend time with Him when I am at my best, not struggling to keep my eyes open or think coherently. Even if it’s 10 or 11 pm and I’m in my bed, I can still spend some quality time with Him. And I think God is thrilled with any time we choose to draw near to Him. Night or day.
The chapter ends with a little talk about perseverance. Dr. Morgan says at first we might feel awkward and stiff and wondering if we’re getting anything out of our quiet times. The important thing is not to give up! Some days will be more meaningful than others. I have sure noticed that myself when having a quiet time. Keep it up and stick it out and soon, you will feel like something is just off about your day when you miss your quiet time.
I’m back to having a quiet time. I’ll let you know in the next post how I’m carrying that out (because this post is already long enough)! Do you have a quiet time? If you feel comfortable sharing, I’d love to know in the comment section, how your quiet time works for you.