By: Vanessa Bonilla
Quiet time, the name alone brings warm feelings. When we imagine quiet time, we picture our books sprawled out about us, a piping hot cup of something we love, and a level of silence that allows us to hear our own breaths.
Unfortunately, that’s not usually what we get. Distractions come and bulldoze any hope we have of that blissful place. We become overwhelmed and frustrated and even give up on the idea of ever being able to have it. But I want to encourage you not to give up by giving you some very simple things you can implement to help you push aside distractions.
1) Environment: “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)
The first obstacle in having a successful quiet time is where we have it. Jesus knew how many people were fighting for His attention. He also knew that, as much as He loved them and wanted to be there for them, time with his Father was top priority. Having a great quiet time is going to have to start with some sacrifice. We can’t be who we need to be for the people who need us without time with Jesus. We may have to get up a little earlier, or stay up a little later than our kids, our spouses, or our call time. We may also, like Jesus, have to go to a desolate place. That place looks different for all of us. As a mother of five, my desolate place is my dining room. My dining room is very plain, I don’t have any decorations or table cloths, it’s just a giant wooden block and a wall. This allows my eyes to avoid wandering while I’m trying to focus. What is that desolate place for you? Is it your kitchen, your bedroom, your closet or even your empty bathtub? There isn’t anything too silly if it gets the job done!
2) Responsibilities: “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!” (Psalm 90:17)
Many times our deadlines and responsibilities call upon us to start thinking about all that needs to get done, instead of focusing on what we are doing now. Make a list of everything you need to get done for the day then pray Psalms 90:17 over it all. Believe Jesus heard and cared about your prayer, and set your list aside until you are done. Place your phone on airplane mode and make sure not to check your email first thing in the morning. These are all quiet time killers, be wary.
3) Children: “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.” (Psalm 127:3-5)
If you have children there are times we can think about them as our biggest distractions. I can relate. I implore you to take another look. If we have taken all the precautions to get alone with the Lord, in setting a time we know the kids should be asleep or napping, and gone to a place they do not enjoy being, then something else is at work here. The Lord may be provoking the heart of our child to be with us. Look at those times, not as an interruption, but rather an appointment.
I remember reading my Bible and my early bird six-year-old runs to me and sits next to me. The first few times, I would close my Bible and believe that was the end of my time. One day, as I went to close my Bible, my boy looked up at me and said “Mom you can keep going and you can read it to me too, I’ll be very quiet.” This changed everything about the way I viewed my children as interruptions. Obviously there will be times where they need our attention or our help but most times we can teach them to just be with us “quietly”. We are doing a work in ourselves and in them. We get to teach them what quiet time looks like and how they can cultivate it for themselves. We get to show them that time with the Lord is what is needed to face the day. We get to love them through sharing our time with them. We get to. We don’t have to. We are being molded just as much as they are during these appointments.
4) Running Mind: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)
Our environment could be perfect and we’d still be distracted by our own minds. When your mind is running faster than Usain Bolt, speak to it. Say “mind I call you into perfect peace, I trust the Lord and as I set my eyes on him and thoughts on Him you have no choice but to respond in peace.” Then believe what you are saying and watch how the Lord will calm your mind and spirit.
I hope these tips help you in cultivating a flourishing quiet time. I also want to encourage you to remember that, in this broken sinful world there is no such thing as perfect. This means our dream of perfect quiet times is a bust from the start. Take it as it comes, beautifully broken, just like we are.
Vanessa is the daughter of a Pastor, baby of six and a homeschooling mom of five. Married to her wonderful husband of eight years, they serve in their local church together. She loves fresh fruit, nights by the fire pit, and time with friends and family. Vanessa has watched God do amazing things in her life. Assaulted at a young age, teen mom and the survivor of an abusive marriage left her life in pieces. Today she stands restored and uses the testimony of brokenness to help build others and encourage women to discover the fullness of a relationship with God.