We are beginning a “How-to month” here at A Martha Heart–instructional pieces from all the authors. Here is a post I wrote a while back on quiet times and have updated it to reflect my current quiet time. But before you read it, I want you to know that the words “quiet time” get mixed up in our brains–and become another thing on the long, laundry list we fill and are overwhelmed by each day. Sometimes, like a friend of mine, there is no way on earth she can have what she considers a true quiet time. However, 24/7, she is abiding in Christ. She is praying, leaning on Jesus and learning. So if you find yourself in a time like that, know this–abiding in Christ is a daily and wonderful place to be. It is His best for us–not a list of “to-do’s.”
These are my quiet time materials: Beth Moore’s A Heart Like His devotional journal (about David), My Partner Prayer Notebook by Becky Tirabassi, a three-divider notebook, and my Bible (an ESV study Bible, and I am loving it!). I have been reading Ruth and am about to finish 1 Samuel and will start 2 Samuel this weekend. This is something I try to do every morning before going downstairs. I do it because I need it–not to check off a list…not to say that I did it…not really even to share it with others. I spend this time because I NEED it.
Also, I have some devotionals that I change out every year. My current ones are Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman and Tozer on the Almighty God (A VERY GOOD ONE!!) a great compilation of AW Tozer’s writings. I stagger reading various books, too, that challenge my walk with the Lord. The ones that have blessed me lately are Ann Voscamp’s One Thousand Gifts and Lysa Tyrkeurst’s Made to Crave.
Finally, I read fiction–I love to read fiction and often am spurred on in the faith from various writers. I am re-reading Tolkein’s The Hobbit right now and then diving into his Lord of the Rings series, which I have never read (LOVE the movies!). I will work up a list of recommendations for authors, devotionals and studies before the month’s end, if you are interested. Many of these materials have so marked my life that I am truly different because of taking their words to heart.
I have heard different Bible teachers and pastors say that any trouble you are facing at any given moment, the Bible has something to say about it. It’s timeless and has an answer for these troubles. That is true…BUT not until you begin to read it and find out. A Bible concordance is a great place to find answers to various topics. It really is! However if you do not take time to read what the Bible says, the value of topical words is diminished. Read beyond one scripture…read the whole chapter and book. If you are wanting to grow in the area of studying the Bible, Beth Moore wrote a blog post here that goes beyond your wildest imagination and will show you tools to begin and get deeper into study of the Word.
I cannot count the times when I have been reading along in the Bible and found that a certain theme would begin in my mind about a certain something I’m dealing with–be it people, situations or even myself. I know this is because of the Holy Spirit. When I asked Christ in my life to save me and forgive me, He entrusted me with His Spirit. So anytime I am reading the Bible or discussing something with a friend, I will hear a MESSAGE from Him. It may be like this, “stop this conversation now, you are walking down the wrong road.” Or I may read and hear, “go and call this person now, ask about their family.” Now I know I didn’t just come up with these things. They happen! And because I heed His voice in these matters, I find that the messages get louder and clearer each time–kind of a practice makes perfect kind of deal.
So when I have a quiet time, I have found that sometimes I face an inner struggle. My mind will focus on the to-do list that day or I can’t seem to “take-in” what I’m reading. Sometimes, I struggle with sitting still and being quiet. So I buy fresh new, brightly colored materials–I love a blank page! I try to trick myself into thinking that it will make a difference. But it won’t. It doesn’t. That is when I hear His message to me again, “Just Me, Holly. Just take time in my Word. Keep it simple. You are trying to do too much at once and for the wrong reason.”
And He is right! I don’t know if it was being pregnant with our fourth child or having a fourth child, but I have struggled with doing the amount of things I did before. I have taken a couple of Bible studies and for the first time in 10 years, I’m having a hard time getting the homework done. I am a blank “filler-inner.” I cannot stand the feeling of going to class with unfinished work. But I go anyway and feel terrible.
When I have asked the LORD to give me a fresh start. He does and I am then faithful to my time and try not to fit so many Bible studies in and devotionals in that I am not reading His Word. Sometimes reading the bible is all I do–and it is more than enough. At these times, I read the Bible, pray a lot and journal a bit.
When Chris and I married in 1991, 20 years ago, I was faithful in my quiet time every single day. I could spend over 2 hours doing a word study or Bible study each day. I had more time, even with a 16 hour school load. When I began to work, while Chris got his masters, my quiet time was about an hour a day. When Chris began to work and I still didn’t have children (seemed like I couldn’t have children), I had quiet times that lasted about 4 hours. It was amazing! It was life-changing! By the time Noah and 21 months later Kylie were born, I had about a one and a half hour quiet time a day. When Tabor was born, I still had a long quiet time. I remember spending the whole nap time on the roof of our old home, talking with the Lord and singing and journaling, reading my Bible and finishing Bible studies. I have no idea why it worked so well, except by the grace of God.
During these years, sometimes I get in a slump in my quiet time. I have had a hard time being still and not falling asleep! I have been behind in everything that mattered…housework, cooking, grocery shopping and even deadlines for the kids school. But for some reason, I will see the bright light at the end of my quiet time tunnel….which is why, I guess, I spend a part of every day singing “There’s a light at the end of this tunnel…there’s a a light at the end of this tunnel” in my head. No kidding.
In every season, I am ready to see what it will be like. I get excited! I can’t wait to see what I’ll learn each new day!
All in all, I think that God looks at my heart the whole time…and He sees the times I struggled because of things in my life that I couldn’t control and He sees the times when I struggle because I was refusing to be face down before Him. (By the way, I spent the best $4 this week! Here is what I listened to on my mp3 player on Monday–scroll down to “Face Down.” Whoa! It’s is something I will listen to regularly. And it is the crux of my past rebellion–humbling myself in the sight of the Lord. I will keep it on my player, for sure!)
We all need a time when we re-boot our systems. Get rid of the junk that has accumulated and start again with the basic programs to run more smoothly. I think the Lord comes in an enlarges our memory, as we spend time with Him. I think He is quite good at getting rid of those nasty viruses of self: pride, self-importance, greed, jealousy, gossip, and simply getting our priorities mixed up. I need that! Sometimes, I need His gentle reminder to me and sometimes He gets in my face about what attitudes I’m choosing. And I say, Yes, Lord. You’re right, Lord. AGAIN Lord, I come to you with hands upturned and mouth ready to be filled with good things in your Presence.
The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD.
REST-JOY-BLESSING: I need these every day, don’t you? Get in His Word and keep it simple. You will be so glad you did!