A Problem With ‘Quiet-Times’

If you’ve spent any time in Christian circles you’ve probably heard all the lingo. Quiet-times, spending time, personal devotions and so on, they all describe the same thing; personal time spent in God’s Word and prayer. Everyone will have different practices, use different materials and do it at different times of the day. But I think that there is a problem with our training on quiet-times, whether that’s intentional training or not.

A Christian may set aside 15 minutes a day for their quiet-times, for example. They read a few verses, think of what they mean, pray and carry on with their day. That’s not a bad thing, but it think it presents a problem.

If we’re only spending a few minutes a day in God’s Word then we’re only going to read a few verses. Reading a few verses, normally out of context, means that people are more likely to misinterpret the meaning of the text. If you misinterpret, you misapply.

I think that this culture has possibly come about in certain circles because of the size of passages we preach on. If a preacher can talk for 30 minutes on a Sunday about a few verses, then surely we can learn a lot from just a few verses, so the logic goes. That is right, but it doesn’t do justice to the hours of study that the preacher invested in his sermon.

I don’t think Christians need to spend 8 hours a day reading their Bible. But if we are truly wanting to grow in our faith and our understanding of God, then the Bible is the place to go.

A problem is that people are satisfied with reading just a few verses, which can often be treated as a spiritual jump-start to the day. There are a number of issues with that approach to the Bible, but I’d like to focus on one.

Constantly focusing on just a few short verses means that we’re susceptible of taking Scripture out of context. We’re in danger of twisting the Bible’s message and in danger of falling into false teaching.

One of the ways to remedy this is to read big portions of Scripture. Instead of reading just a few verses, why not read the whole book you’re studying in one sitting. It will take a while, depending on what book you choose, but there is no better way to get to know the story of the Bible than simply reading it.

This is where I find it helpful to have a Bible Reading plan that takes you through the whole Bible in a year. You read larger chunks of Scripture that help you grasp something of the big story of the Bible.

Let’s not settle for bite size times in the Bible, but let’s marvel at the grand story of salvation played out in the Bible by a wonderful God.

The resources that people use for their quiet-times are important too, but that’s for another blog post.

What are the things you find most difficult about quiet-times? What have you done in the past to help you?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, leave a comment below or head to the contact page and get in touch.

8 thoughts on “A Problem With ‘Quiet-Times’

  1. Great thoughts Alisair. A quote I read from Piper last year changed the way I looked at this. He said: “Satan devotes 168 hours a week trying to deceive you. Do you think you can maintain a renewed mind with a ten-minute glance at God’s book once a day?”

    When I read that it transformed the way I viewed “quiet time”. This year I’ve moved to setting aside several significant chunks of time dotted throughout my day to go through the McCheyne plan & pray, and the difference it’s made has been remarkable.

    I agree with everything you’ve said, but having had this same conversation with some of the guys in my church I’ve found that for those with different attention spans, reading abilities, or medical conditions, etc, reading whole chunks of the bible in one sitting can be difficult. Not that we make excuses, and there are creative ways to remedy that, but I’ve had to become so aware of pushing my own version of “quiet time” on to others who are simply wired differently to me. There’s no one size fits all solution, and 20 minutes of quality time in the morning is far better than nothing at all!

    Saying all that, ultimately our quiet time has to become more than a tick box exercise we do to fill in our “good Christian” card. I think if “time with Jesus” is seen as nothing more than yet another thing we add to our diaries we’re fooling ourselves. It has to become a natural, ongoing part of our daily walk with Christ, which goes above and beyond everything else and encompasses all other things as we continually learn to submit to him, seek him and abide in him.

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  2. Thanks Alistair for this post it was really interesting.
    I find it really helpful to memorise verses and have them “to hand” during the day when there are moments enough to think about the character of God and what His will is for you. I guess listening to the Holy Spirit in every situation is also a key part of this because He will bring to mind the Word in God which then renews how you think I’m each situation and circumstance. It’s definitely so much more than just a few minutes at the start of the day!

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  3. Good article! Many years ago, the church my wife and I belonged to started a year-long journey through the Bible. We all received copies of The Daily Walk Bible. In this version, the Bible is organized to be read over the course of a calender year, Genesis through Revelation. The NLT version included helpful sections which explained and provided deeper understanding. Each person would read the daily chapters and, on Sunday, our Pastor would preach on the week’s reading. Our congregation was about 1500 at that time, so every day a large portion of that number were reading the same words at the same pace. For most of us, this was the first time we had read the Bible straight through.

    The effect this had on my wife and me was profound. Since then, when we have our “quiet time” and read or study God’s messages to us, it makes more sense; the Bible comes into focus. Sunday sermons can now be understood in context. We have a point of reference between the Old and New testaments. Our home devotional and study times are enhanced for having read all the Bible previously.

    Over the years, my wife and I have continued to read through the Bible in a year, not every year, but it has been seven times now.

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  4. My husband and I were given a daily devotional bible by our pastor on our wedding day 31 years ago. It has Old and New Testament structured chapters as well as passages from the Psalms and Proverbs with a thought for each day at the finish. Many times I have been struck by particular verses or chapters and God by his Holy Spirit has spoken through these. I believe it is important to read God’s word each day but also to understand what I am reading so if something strikes me and I need clarity I search for material in that area. Recently I have been reading R T Kendall on the Holy Spirit and Elizabeth George on the fruits of the spirit. I make notes and print them on a blogger which helps to understand what I have learned on the subject. I also take down notes on sermons I hear and blog these then put notes into my journal bible which will help when I read that verse again.

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