Does Our Quiet Time Have to be Quiet?

Posted by Naomi Vacaro on

Placing Quiet over Christ
Erica Hunt

The word we use at Wholehearted to describe our time of reading God’s word, prayer, and worship is quiet. Growing up, my family called it devotions, but it was at a Bible camp where I first heard it referred to as “quiet time”. In my mind, it made sense: you pick a quiet spot where you are not distracted, read some verses, pray, and hopefully get something out of it.
It wasn’t until just a couple of years ago I heard someone say that they didn’t like calling it a “quiet” time because they didn’t like quiet. This was a new perspective for me because I enjoy silence. I am introverted and have often lived alone; I’m comfortable with quiet. But, not everyone embraces quietness the same way, so it is important to ask, does our quiet time have to be quiet? Is silence a spiritual discipline that needs to be practiced or simply a spiritual preference?

When we think of our quiet time, we might think of two different types of quiet: our surroundings and our internal state. Our surroundings help us set the tone of our hearts as we meet with God. Some of us long for silence and some long for noise: worship music, the birds singing outside, or another voice to join us as we read, sing, and pray. Yet our surroundings can constantly change, from season to season or even day to day. And if our preferences are too inflexible our surroundings might keep us from coming to Him. Thankfully, God is gracious, He welcomes us to Him in each and every place, circumstance, and limitation.
Our surroundings do not exclude us from meeting with him, whether we’re in an immaculate house, or a tiny, dirty prison cell. He joins us amid the crying and laughter of children or the solace of a hidden chapel of trees. He will meet us in busy coffee shops and car rides. The place and atmosphere do not hinder God. We can try to shape our time with Him to help us wholly focus on Him, and when our surroundings slip from our control, we can come to Him anyway! 

The “quiet” part of quiet time is not mandatory to have time with the Lord, however, stillness might be. Not physical stillness, but a heart-level stillness in intentionally shifting our focus to God and his Word. Practicing the discipline of stilling our minds, thoughts, or bodies helps us turn our attention and experience an intimate relationship with our Creator. We are beckoned to come to him. We are encouraged to put aside our agenda, thoughts, and fears and just sit with God in his Word, prayer, or worship. We can set aside our striving, working, fretting, business, distractions, commotion, and obligations for a few moments. So, while we can’t completely control our circumstances, we should do what we can to intentionally create a daily time that stills the noises and distractions of our lives, to build a real and deep relationship with God. 

Women especially can become distracted by all the other blessings in our lives, that our time with God is often passed off as, “Oh well, I did my best, God understands.” Though God does understand our crazy lives, He wants us to have better. The account of Mary and Martha comes to mind. I often roll my eyes when it comes to this story, because yes, we ALL know what the “right choice” was: Jesus over work. But Jesus doesn’t actually say that. In Luke chapter 10, he tells Martha, “Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42 ESV). Mary quieted her schedule and soul amid the hustle and bustle and gave her attention to Jesus. She chose the food he offered, over the serving of others, and this was the thing that lasted. The NIV says Mary chose what was better. It was the better of two good things. The effort of prioritizing quiet time is choosing the good portion.

When we look at the components of our personal time with God, is it filled with interruptions or distractions? Is the intentional amount of time you have set aside focused on God and his word, prayer, and worship? This doesn’t mean that we should ignore interruptions such as our children’s cries or an important phone call. But we can prepare our hearts and minds to practice the discipline of prioritizing
where and when we give our attention. Though called ‘quiet time’ the emphasis is on who that time is with, Jesus, who is supremely worth our daily devotion, quiet or not.

  Erica Hunt lives with her husband, Justin, in South Dakota. She teaches middle school and loves traveling, collecting quotes, learning fun facts and historical information, drinking coffee, eating ice cream, and enjoying good conversations with friends.
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