The sad truth is that many of us assess our ‘spiritual life’ by whether or not we have quiet times, daily devotions, devos, God time etc. Whatever we call it, this has become the unfortunate way many of us determine how close we feel to God or worse yet, how close we ARE to God. We ask ourselves:
Am I getting up early enough?
Am I able to stay awake before bed long enough to say ‘amen’?
Am I getting anything out of this?
Every year we make a new plan; buy a new journal; get a new devotional book from the next best author; set our alarm clock 20 minutes earlier. And a few days later we fade back into life minus the quiet time plus the guilt.
The number one thing I hear from people when asked what they struggle with most in their faith is that they don’t have the regular quiet time they “want” to [read: feel like they should] have.
And almost every time someone tells me this they are convinced that everyone else they know bounds out of bed at 6am to pray for an hour everyday.
Guess what? This isn’t happening folks. Almost everyone struggles with the inability to keep a daily rhythm of prayer, scripture reading and other [insert Christian word]. Yet we continue to beat ourselves up, buy the new journal, make a new plan year after year.
Regardless of the motivation to keep trying, it isn’t working is it? And let me tell you the guilt you feel is not coming from Jesus. (And in case you were worried, I’m not preaching a “just try and be loving and it will all work out” type of faith.) I firmly believe Christ is calling us to a bold life of faith, an unwavering stance against injustice and among other things, a recognizably different way of living.
However, we aren’t going to get there by feeling guilty for not having a quiet time.
So what then? Do I ditch the quiet time all together?
For some of you…yes. You need a break from the guilt. You need a break from evaluating your worth as a Christ-follower based on this one thing. I encourage you devoted, lovely and guilt-ridden folks – break free! Run like the wind! Nothing bad will happen to you.
Take that guilt awareness and put it toward God awareness (so cheesy and so true). Not everyone fits into the “sit down and pray and read your Bible” model. Where do you see God at work right now? Do you see God in your conversations with friends? In your kids? In music? In the landscape around you? In serving others? In the busy chaos at the height of your week? Or In the deep sigh at the end of a busy day?
Look for God there.
I guarantee an encounter with Christ is more likely to happen there than in your guilt ridden moments trying to come up with a system to have a better devotional life.
Once you let go of the guilt you will be more free and open to what Jesus is doing around you. Who knows, maybe you will return one day to a regular, peaceful moment of spiritual connection but whatever you do, don’t call it a quiet time.