Wouldn’t you say that guilt is an interesting accoutrement to the classic Christian “quiet time” of spending time reading the Bible and praying? I recently talked to some women who felt guilty because of their Bible study habits or lack thereof.
Where does much of this guilt come from? I’ll tell you where –it comes from not having any actual rules about quiet times.
Do you realize there are no rules about having quiet times?
Nowhere in the Bible will you read: “Thou shalt read x amount of verses or thou shalt burn in hell” or “Thou shalt pray for three and a half hours or you are a slacker. S.L.A.C.K.E.R.”
There simply aren’t any rules about spending time with God. We just know he loves us and wants us to value his Words and talk to him nonstop.
Let me tell you that I love no rules. This is my briar patch. No fences. No list. Doing whatever I imagine, with every ounce of my creativity. Total artistic license. Yeeees. When I realized there were actually no quiet-time rules, it opened the door for me to have joyful, awake, vibrant times with God instead of guilt-driven, am-I-doing-this-right experiences.
But I know you (most of you), and no rules makes you need to breathe in a paper bag. So I want to give you an idea that allows for freedom but with a little baby fence around it:
Build Your Own Quiet Time Basket
A basket has edges. Does that make you feel better?
But your basket can be little or big. It can be made of tin or hand-woven fabric or wooden twigs or even just cardboard from a leftover Costco run. (But please tell me you care a little more about aesthetics than that, because pretty matters.) It can have handles or no handles. Covered or not covered. Expensive purchase or a great thrift-store find.
Now, what to put in it! Well, the two main activities you’ll want to include in your quiet time are reading the Bible and praying, but what about supplies? (Fun! Supplies are so fun.)
If your soul is a please-just-tell-me-what-to-do-and-I’ll-copy-you soul, then just follow my lead. But if you like to be creative, use my list the way you would a good sourdough starter. So here’s what’s in my quiet time basket:
- A “thinking well” box. (I put verses and quotes in here that help me think well. One of these days I’ll write more about this, so that’s all I’m saying for now.)
- A second box. (My boxes are papier-mache –super cheap at craft stores.) This second box contains my reading glasses, a pen, memory verses that I’ll teach in AWANA on 3 x 5 cards, and stacks of prayer cards. (Oh my word, I’ve tried 50 different ways over the years, to write out prayers and keep track of who I’m praying for. Finally landed on 3 x 5 cards, because I looooooove 3 x 5 cards. I’ll write about my prayer card system another day, too.) There are also lots of extra 3 x 5 cards in this box, for writing down important stuff. Sometimes I’m just like, “Oh my word. That is so good. I have to write that down!”
- A notebook. (For writing stuff.)
- A simple devotional book. (For the running-late or didn’t-sleep-well or my-brain-is-tired days.)
- A not-simple devotional book. (I like to read challenging theological books written by seminary professors.)
- This isn’t in my basket, but I also always bring my phone with me to my quiet time, because I love to text specific people and say, “I was just praying for you!” That makes me happy.
Okay, that’s my basket. Sometimes I use a few of my supplies. Sometimes only one. Sometimes (if I’ve got a huge mug of coffee) all six. Stop the train. But there’s no rule. God just wants me to seek him, read his words, and talk to him. And he’s creative (like –made the whole world creative), so doesn’t it make sense that we all can have different ways that we enjoy being with him? Reading, writing, praying, studying, memorizing verses.
Yes, so relax. Just relax. Start with the basket and a Bible (or Bible app, if you’re one of the cool kids) and have fun exploring the ways you relate best to God. Maybe you need a journal for your prayers (ugh, I hate writing out prayers, but more power to ya.) Maybe you’re in a Bible study at church, and you need to add your workbook to the basket. Maybe you’re from Montana and need a fuzzy blanket in there, too. Hard to pray with cold toes.
Sky is the limit, sister. Sky is the limit.
Now what we all need is for you to light up the comment section below, with any unique ideas that I haven’t mentioned here. Ready? Go.