Is Your Quiet Time A Performance Treadmill? By Babatunde Olugboji
Quiet time, an umbrella term broadly understood as time with God, is a regular individual session of Christian spiritual pursuits, such as prayer, private meditation, contemplation, worship and or study of the Bible.
Also known as heart-to-heart time, or one-on-one, the term quiet time or sacred time is used by 20th and 21st century Protestants, mostly evangelical Christians. Known variously as personal Bible study or personal devotion or daily devotion, it has also been called morning watch and appointment with God.
Practices vary according to denominational traditions. Anglican devotions, for example, will occasionally include the use of prayer beads, while Catholics use the term mental prayer.
The late Billy Graham suggested that quiet time consists of 3 main elements: prayer, Bible reading and meditation and that many Christians accompany these 3 elements with journaling.
The first mention of the term was in the late 19th century. By the 1940s, quiet time had supplanted the concept of the morning watch as the most widely promoted pattern for private prayer among evangelical Protestants across the world. Morning watch viewed prayer primarily as petitionary prayer or requests made to God.
Quiet time, in contrast, brought Bible study and meditation into the practice and placed the emphasis on listening to God, instead of asking from God. There was still time for requests, but they now were accompanied by Bible reading, prayers of praise, confession of sin, prayers of thanksgiving and listening to God. Quiet time was therefore quieter, hence the name. “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16) This was probably where the phrase was coined, that this was Jesus’ quiet time.
Whatever its root, quiet time is a time of encouragement, spiritual strengthening, and insight for believers. It is a time of “spiritual food” for the soul, a time of complete focus on God which includes conscious study and expressive prayer, a time of open-minded listening and waiting for guidance.
However, quiet time is not a way of attaining salvation, but the privilege and joy of an already redeemed heart -a heart that has already entered into friendship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. If you have not yet repented of your sin and turned to Christ for forgiveness and cleansing, quiet time may just be a religious activity.
In other words, as a believer, you should not treat quiet time as law, rather see it as a means of grace. While advocating a life of prayer and biblical contemplation, personal devotion is not to be seen as a performance treadmill in which believers feel their daily acceptance with God is based on what they do instead of what Christ did.
Just to be clear, while the practice of quiet time is not expressly commanded in the Bible,
it is inferred and should be an important part of a believer’s everyday life. This is when a believer goes to a comfortable and rather secluded place (usually) at home, where the believer can draw close to God with no distractions.
How long should it last for? Must it be practiced only in the mornings? We will answer these and related questions in the coming weeks.
Have a great week.
Kingdom Dynamics, a weekly column written by Dr. Babatunde Olugboji, the President, Kingdom House, a non-profit organization in New Jersey, USA.