By: Emily Miller
Quiet time has been a helpful tool in spending time with Jesus, cleaning out the idols in my heart, and transforming my mind by conforming my worldview to Scripture. But, I started noticing a weakness in solely relying on my quiet time. See, I’d been giving half of an hour to an hour, of my 24-hour day to Jesus, and then I would spend the remaining 23 and ½ hours focusing on me, listening to a wide variety of music, and watching loads of tv shows. Bizarrely enough, Netflix was not deeply satisfying my soul and I saw my affections being numbed by entertainment instead of fed by truth, peace, and solid joy.
I began to creatively find ways to spend more time thinking about Jesus.
I’ve never been a successful dieter. I’ve never defeated a sin by saying: “Stop it. Just stop, Emily. Stop.” I have successfully trained my appetite to enjoy and fill up on healthy food while still enjoying a smaller quantity of decadent desserts. I’ve found that as I feed my soul on what it actually wants, I lose interest in the counterfeit offers of sin.
As I put these ideas into practice I found that the less time I gave entertainment the more I enjoyed entertainment. When I’m full of good soul food I can enjoy select (non-pornographic, terribly sinful, or horrifically violent) Netflix without needing it to nourish my underfed soul.
1) Intentional Fellowship
We often mistakenly see friendship with Jesus solely in a “go off into the wilderness and pray” sort of way. But as a Christian I am part of the body of Christ. I grow closer to Jesus as I love His people. Practically, I keep a list of people to invite over for tea, I go to church, community group, and host a weekly prayer time that my sister leads. My faith flourishes in community.
2) Good Books
I used to read everything I can get my hands on. Now, in this busier season as a mom of young children, I read more intentionally what either inspires my affections for Jesus, helps me think through difficult issues, or practically helps me in things like parenting my young children.
3) Singing Hymns
I grew up singing hymns with my mom. Years and years of hymns had a way of planting theology so deeply in my brain that when life tightens around me, lyrics pour out of my mouth. When I’m tempted to hope in my bank account, relationships, or health I hear: “On Christ the solid Rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.” When I’m exhausted half way through my day “Day by Day” becomes my prayer. When I feel overcome by my failures “Rock of Ages” is my plea.
When I need to stir up my affections to appreciate what I believe, I spend a half an hour singing some hymns. Time and again this practice has transformed my apathy into passion, my doubt into faith, and my grief into fierce joy.
4) Scripture Memory
I am a skillful under-appreciator of Scripture. I can read the most extraordinary things and go, “huh… cool” and then move on with my day. Trying to memorize something makes me really think about what scripture is saying. Sometimes I’m repeating something for the fifth time before I really get it. And memorized scripture, like hymns, has a way of popping into my thoughts at just the right moment in response to life.
We live in a wonderful time. I can spend all day hearing God’s word if I so choose. I spend a lot of my day cleaning, cooking, and saving toddlers from themselves. I treat sermons like I treat the Office, I put it on as I go about my day. Sometimes I’m riveted to the screen and sometimes I’m catching bits and pieces. Either way it still serves the purpose of teaching my mind to meditate on Jesus and His Word.
Friends, there’s so many things you can do to feed your soul. I didn’t even mention exercising to worship music, praying as you go for a long walk, keeping a prayer journal, creating art, writing poetry… Be creative! Train your affections to want what truly satisfies your soul.
Emily is a mother of two young children and has little time for much else. She began a daily quiet time at age thirteen, and her relationship with Jesus has remained a constant for Emily as she went from being a missionary kid in Mongolia, to working as a barista in Oregon, to marrying and starting a family in Florida. Emily enjoys writing poetry, dancing while doing housework, watching storms, and laughing at her husband, children, and herself.