This past Monday I found myself in our regular weekly prayer time with a couple of my interns. Amidst worship and just taking time out from work to pray and sing songs to God together, the subject of quiet time and how we hear from God came up.
Now I don’t know about you, but quiet time isn’t something I’ve always had the easiest time with. Perhaps it’s because I’m someone who’s used to being on the go, but there’s just something about sitting quietly in a corner that doesn’t jive with me. In fact, a lot of times when I’ve tried to do this, my train of thoughts usually goes as follows:
“Okay, focus… Quiet time, time with God… Dear God… Wow that clock is ticking really loudly. Has it always ticked so loudly? Wait, I’m supposed to be praying. Okay, let’s pray… Where shall I start? God, You are so good…
Hey, look! A SQUIRREL!!
*sigh* God give me grace.”
Not exactly your ideal of what quiet time should look like. But talking about this got me thinking. Is quiet time really about sitting in a corner being quiet and doing nothing? Or is it really about the purpose behind intentionally setting aside time to be with God?
Stillness is a State of Being
Christians anywhere will tell you that spending personal one-on-one time with God is important, if not vital. But what they sometimes forget to add is that this can look like a variety of different things for a variety of different people. God isn’t looking for you to only pray to Him one way. He’s simply looking for you to pray, and He’ll meet you wherever that is.
Case in point: I spend about 20 minutes driving one way to work. Last week, I shut off the radio, and now as I drive in silence, this has become my daily quiet time with God. I’ve found that somehow, if my body is occupied with something like driving, it clears my mind so I can talk, pray, or simply just be in God’s presence.
Stillness, I’ve realized, isn’t about being quiet and doing nothing, it’s about being able to calm your heart and your mind enough to where God’s voice can be heard. I believe that when we are peaceful and at rest, it is in those moments that we can best hear God speaking to us.
So how do you best hear from God? In your room? On a walk? Writing letters? God is always there, it’s just a matter of figuring out what works best for us.
“Be still, and know that I am God!” Psalm 46:10
Don’t Get It? Translate it!
Reading the Bible, while an important component to quiet time, isn’t always enjoyable for some people (I know, I’ve been there). But sometimes, it’s isn’t necessarily that the Bible itself is boring, it’s that you just haven’t found a translation that resonates with you.
A couple of years ago, my interest in reading the Bible changed dramatically when I came across The Message version. The stories were the same, but it was written like how I would talk, and you know what? It’s made all the difference in the world to me. Not only do I relate better, but it’s made it easier for me to understand certain verses that didn’t make a whole lot of sense before.
So if reading the Bible is a bore, maybe it’s time to change things up. Biblegateway.com lists 23 different versions of the Bible in just English alone! I know that can seem like overkill, but that could also mean that there’s a better version out there for you to connect with.
Individual vs Corporate Prayer
In my time in campus ministry, first as a student and now as a campus minister, I’ve realized that a lot of times it can seem more fun and appealing to pray with other people for lots of things. But what we need to remember is that even if we’re praying a whole lot for good things like campus transformation or friends and family to know Christ, there must be a balance.
Neglecting personal time with God renders us less useful to the Body of Christ because we miss out on the chance to grow our relationship with Him, and also learn and work through things on a very deep, personal level.
If we are to truly follow Christ, then besides preaching the gospel, we must also remember to do as He did and retreat to places by ourselves to pray. (Luke 5:16) My encouragement to you today is this: if it’s been a while since you’ve taken time to just be with God, don’t hesitate.
Even if it’s just 5 minutes, stand still with God. He’s not just waiting, He’s ready to talk too.
Kimberly Chung is the National Media Director for Campus Renewal Ministries, a ministry focused on forging partnerships in prayer to build missional communities that transform college campuses with the gospel of Jesus. She is a campus minister to The University of Texas at Austin and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org