beyond the instagram Bible: what my quiet times look like
Christian coffee shop culture has made cute Instagram devotional shots all the rage. A Christian blogger myself, I’m no stranger to these—I use them often to convey thoughts and insights I glean from God’s Word.
Amidst Christian circles, it’s not uncommon to hear the term quiet time. We’re encouraged to do them, told they’re critical in our journeys of knowing God, and growing in Him. What’s less common is the defining of what a quiet time even is, and without doing so, the term runs the risk of becoming Christianese. You know—stuff Christian girls say.
Like I mentioned here, I’m doing a couple posts this month answering questions I’ve received from readers. The first, found here, answers the question, “How do you deal with comparison?” In this post, I’ll be answering the question, “How do you have a quiet time?”—zooming out beyond the borders of those pretty little squares to share what goes into my time with God in the first place.
This isn’t a How-To guide in the sense that it spells out exactly how you're supposed to have a quiet time, because I believe it looks different for everyone. It’s simply me pulling back the curtains to show what quiet times look like for me, and hopefully hearing back from you about what’s worked in yours because well, I’d love to know!
Keep in mind—this is what quiet times look like for me on an ideal morning. I’ll be the first to admit that many mornings, the snooze button wins, and my quiet time is nothing more than whispered words with Jesus while I shower, and the Bible app audio feature reading to me while I brush my teeth. I’m continually seeking growth in this area because I believe its value is unmatched, but in the words of Hannah Montana, Nobody’s Perfect.
Beyond the Instagram Bible is a vast realm of richness readily available to us—we just have to press in and seek it. Below is what doing so looks like for me.
Lately I’m learning the importance of not simply seeking an emotional experience in spending time with God. I often turn to Him seeking pleasure in the form of a spiritual high, or relief from pain the form of Him speaking into a situation I’m struggling with. I love Jefferson Bethke’s comparison—that time with God is like food. Some meals are memorable, like the steak dinner on your birthday. Other times it’s PB&J for lunch, nothing special. With Scripture and food alike, not every “feeding” will be an emotional experience—but we will notice the effect if we don’t have anything at all. Rather than seeking pleasure or relief from pain, I’m asking God to change my motivations—to simply seeking a Person.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
I’ve found it important to spend time with God first thing in the morning, because the second I check texts or emails, my mind is off on a rat race sizing up to-do lists for the day. Once distracted, it’s much harder to reign myself back in to a place where my heart is still and quiet. Another benefit of morning quiet times, is it allows God’s Word—rather than social media or stressful situations—to tell me who I am and Whose I am going into the day.
BOW YOUR HEADS AND CLOSE YOUR EYES
I like to start my quiet time with prayer. In her book Present Over Perfect, Shauna Niequist parallels prayer to a jar of oil and vinegar. You have to first pour out acidic vinegar in order for the heavier, smooth oil underneath to flow. I’m a one-track-mind personality, so the best way for me to create space in my heart to hear from God, is to first release whatever’s weighing on it. If possible, I like to journal my prayers because it helps me focus, and once it’s all out on paper I’m ready to receive. I then ask God to speak—to reveal Himself to me.
COFFEE, COFFEE, COFFEE, AND THE WORD
Three cups is optional and actually excessive, but you get the point. After prayer, I’ll read a portion of Scripture. I’ve found it helpful to follow a plan—it saves time trying to figure out where in the Bible to read, and the consistency of a plan holds me accountable. Currently I’m following a plan by The Bible Project, and I use my journal to make observations and ask questions as I read Scripture, slowly. I’ll write down any insights that come to mind, and talk them over with God. Sometimes, I’ll grab a line or two to memorize, tucking it into my heart for the day.
RINSE AND REPEAT
After reading, I repeat “Step 3”—prayer. This is where I shower my day in prayer—asking God to make me more like Him, lifting up requests, whether mine or others’, and praising Him for who He is. This is especially critical when my circumstances tempt me to believe lies about His character, and its where the truth gleaned from “Step 4” comes in. Finally, I ask God to show Himself to me throughout the day, and to show me opportunities to spill His love into the lives of those I encounter.
Spending quiet time with God doesn’t have to be complicated, it’s actually quite simple—and doing so will transform you, in simply the best ways.
These signs were handmade by my friend Lacey, who just launched her hand-lettering business, Grace Laced Lettering. I love that they are beautiful reminders of what matters most, and of the truth that we are LOVED and CHOSEN by God. To celebrate, we are giving away the beautiful "I'd Rather Have Jesus" sign below. Click the image to enter!
And, one for me to keep. 😉
Do your quiet times look like this, or completely different? Tell me what you love doing in yours below in the comments—I would love to hear!