Just so you know, you’re not the only one who struggles with a consistent quiet time (“Quiet time” is a common term used in evangelical circles to describe their time studying the Bible and praying) . We live in such a fast pace, complex society, with information coming at us in a million different directions, that we’re all stretched too thin. This makes a consistent time of prayer and Bible study extremely difficult. Even though I’m a pastor, this is a constant struggle for me.
I’d like to share with you two things I’ve done recently that have helped increase my consistency with my quiet time.
1. Prayer Aids
One of the things I’ve started doing is using prayer aids to get me out of my prayer ruts. You know, those patterns you get into when you pray the exact same thing every day with your mind on auto pilot. The two that I’m currently using are The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, and the new Crossway publication of The Psalms .
So here’s how it works for me. A few mornings ago I read a prayer in The Valley of Vision titled, “Belonging to Jesus.” The prayer begins, saying:
Teach me to see that if Christ has pacified thee and satisfied divine justice he can also deliver me for my sins; that Christ does not desire me, now justified, to live in self-confidence in my own strength, but gives me the law of the Spirit of life to enable me to obey thee.
As I read through the prayer I’ll stop at various places and expound on the content. This particular morning I focused on the power over sin I have in Christ, the dangers of self-confidence, and divine enablement to live a life of holiness. Elaborating on this prayer brings variety and spontaneity to my prayers.
This is dramatically different than our typical morning prayers racing to work. It magnifies the gospel, it shows me the strength I have in the Spirit, and it’s very uplifting as I start my day in the morning.
I essentially do the same thing with The Psalms, ESV.
So for example, in Psalm 16:11 says, “you make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures for evermore.” On this particular morning I prayed about the ways that He has made known to me the path of life, and how He has been my joy and pleasure in life. I asked Him to help me to keep Him number one in my life, and to continue to bring joy and pleasure to my life. Once again, this is not a prayer that I would come up with on my own.
The main thing to remember is that it is not just rehearsing the prayers, it’s not just repeating what the words say on the page, it’s about letting these amazing prayers and thoughts spur me on to pray more richly and deeply.
2. Splitting Up Prayer and Bible Reading Time
The second thing I have done, is I have separated my prayer time and Bible reading time. In the morning before I leave the house, I pray, then I head to my local Starbucks or my office at my church for my Bible reading time. The real breakthrough for me was when I separated the prayer time and the Bible reading time.
When I used to do them together I would always rush through my prayer time, because I knew I had to get into the Word as well. One, or both of them, would always get second best. I have a one track mind and when I try to do two things at once, I tend to get distracted or discouraged, and I end up doing neither. So now I split them apart, and, so far, it has been working.
The important thing is that you spend time in the Word and in prayer. My encouragement to you is that you do whatever you need to do to make that a consistent habit in your life. If this helps, fantastic! If not, keep trying and don’t give up!
Question: What has worked, or not worked, for you in your pursuit of conquering your quiet time?