If you’re a woman involved in some kind of ministry – campus ministry, small group, church committee, or more – you’ve probably heard about the importance of “quiet time.”
I remember joining a campus ministry my sophomore year and it was never enough to attend church on Sundays and campus ministry worship during the week. No, instead I had to get into the Word every day. I had to make sure that I stopped long enough during the day to spend some time with Jesus. It was even better if I stopped in the morning, but continued to pray all day.
Now, the way I’m writing this probably sounds like I’m frustrated with that teaching. It sounds like I’m aggravated that someone suggested that I spend time with my Lord, daily. Well, as I reflect over what I have typed…it does make me frustrated and aggravated. But not because of the encouragement to stop for a quiet time in my day.
Instead, what aggravates me is that we have a very strict view on what quiet times look like. I can’t tell you how many Christian women bloggers I follow on Twitter and Instagram. And, even though they’re encouraging and supporting, all of their quiet times look the same: coffee. Bible. journal.
Don’t get me wrong, every woman (and man) has the choice to do what they want, especially in their relationship with God. But, I think what we’re missing is that none of us communicate with God in the same way, but we’re going to suggest that our quiet times have to look a certain way? This blows my mind.
I’ve struggled for the past year because Bible and prayer journaling worked for me for about a year. And then it didn’t. I didn’t seem to be sitting still anymore, I didn’t want to do it intentionally, and I didn’t feel the connection between my “quiet time” and my soul. Then, I just stopped. I was tired of people telling me that I had to study a single book of the Bible at a time. I was tired of the old tried and true “SOAP” (scripture, observation, application, prayer) technique. I wanted something different, a new way to connect with God in my daily life.
This year, it’s really hit home to me that John Wesley, Methodist Movement founder and theologian, was so adamant about spiritual disciplines. He really believed that the best way for us to communicate with God is by doing activities that connect us with God. We can partake in Communion, study the scriptures with Lectio Devina, walk outside in nature, fast, participate in spiritual direction, and much much more.
Wesley has sparked in me a new passion to experience God in as many ways that I can, even if it’s a new spiritual discipline a month. I think there’s something special about taking time to walk outside and experience God’s hand in a way that we don’t normally. Barbara Brown Taylor says, “…I can set a little altar, in the world or in my heart. I can stop what I am doing long enough to see where I am, who I am there with, and how awesome the place is” (An Altar in the World).
Ladies, there is more to having a relationship with God than just journaling in your Bible every morning. Sometimes, we get burnt out on doing the same thing over and over again, somehow feeling like we’re getting more distant from the one we’re trying to know. The cry of my heart right now is that you would discover a new way to learn from the Lord. That you would realize that you can sit in centering/contemplative prayer for thirty minutes, you can practice Lectio Divina every day, or you can pray while you’re making a meal for your family and friends.
I think when we put God inside of our little “quiet time” box, we forget to experience Him throughout our days, we forget that He is a living God, moving and breathing with us. But, He is exactly that.
I pray that today you would be open to seeing God when the wind blows through your hair, when the snow falls outside of your favorite window, and when you take a chance to stop feeling like you’re not adequate enough when your “quiet time” doesn’t look like the women’s on social media.
You are known and you are loved. Go spend time with your Creator in a new way.