I like to start each day with some “Quiet Time”. To insure I can do this, I often get up early, depending on what I’ve got going. That insures me that I have some time to spend in prayer and meditation, journaling and communion with God. I start out by reading the daily devotion in Our Daily Bread. I sometimes sit and ponder the question asked or whatever strikes me in the reading and journal about whatever jumps out at me. Then, I go on to several other books and do the same thing. I include reading a section of the Bible. I read from The One Year Bible, It is the NIV version and has the Bible broken up into 365 readings, one for each day of the year. I like it because it has a section from the Old Testament, a section from the New Testament, a selection from Psalms and a few verses from Proverbs. If you are diligent, in the course of a year, you read the entire Bible cover-to-cover. I’ve done that a few times, 7 altogether, I think. Over the years, I’ve underlined many verses that spoke to me and seemed important. It is interesting to see, on subsequent readings, what I’ve underlined. Sometimes I wonder why. What did I see in those words that is escaping me now? If you haven’t read the whole Bible, this book is a great way to do that. With the New Year coming up, I’m looking forward to starting a fresh and reading through it again. I know I probably won’t read every page, but I hope to read most of it again.
I spend part of my Quiet Time in prayer. Most of it is discursive prayer, praying for my needs and the needs of others using words. Thanking God and praising Him. For that I follow a Disciples Liturgy for Daily Prayer put together by a pastor at our church. The liturgy includes a slot for contemplative prayer, which is basically sitting quietly and letting God do the “talking”. I try to do that for 20 minutes each day. My goal is to do it twice a day, morning and late afternoon. But, I’ll confess, the morning time is much easier for me to do than the afternoon. Admittedly, calming down and sitting quietly amidst the day’s activities is not at all easy for me. My mind is prone to daydreaming and is always latching onto something to think about. Simply sitting quietly and listening to that “still, small voice” is a real challenge, but one I’m willing to accept in order to develop a closer and deeper relationship with God.
This Quiet Time, or QT as I call it, is a time when I feel close to God. In my journal, I speak directly to God whom I believe is present and listening and wants to hear from me. During the contemplative time, I try to just sit and listen as if listening to my best friend, which is exactly what I’m doing, only the friend is not someone I can reach out and touch. But, I do believe my spirit touches the Great Spirit in these times. And the Great Spirit touches me in ways that are profound and mysterious. I ask for guidance and strength and encouragement and wisdom to do His Will. I ask Him to equip me for the work He wants me to do, believing He provides me what I need when I need it, not what I want when I want it.
Today, He inspired me to share some of what I learned in my Quiet Time. For example, in reading My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, I read: I must be, but I cannot be, what Jesus wants me to be without the Holy Spirit. My Quiet Time is a time of inviting the Holy Spirit to take control and direct my thinking.
He also inspired this thought: There must be a sense of need before the message of the gospel is of any use. We can be happy and moral without God, but Jesus came with a sword to cut through that kind of happiness and elevate it to a whole new level based on faith in God. He wants to have a personal relationship with us. And, having a personal relationship with someone involves spending time with and listening intently to what that person has to say. My relationship with the Divine is no different than my relationship with my wife or my neighbor, they take time and energy and are built up over long periods and frequent conversations.
However, there are differences, of course, in how I relate to God. For one, I recently read that God’s primary language is silence. He doesn’t talk a lot, but that doesn’t mean His Spirit is not at work on my spirit. That encourages me. As I sit quietly, He is speaking to me in ways I cannot phantom, or at least His Spirit is speaking to and acting upon my spirit. It is like a phone conversation flowing through a wire or transmitted through the air. We can’t hear it until it activates the speaker in our phone. I can’t hear God until His Spirit activates something within me that speaks to me in my language. So, I pay careful attention to my thoughts before, during and after my quiet sit with God.
I just finished John Ortberg’s book titled When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box. Ortberg’s thesis is that just as in the game of Monopoly, so it is in life, when the game is over, all the pieces, all the houses and cars and hotels go back in the box. All the tangible stuff of life goes back in the box. When death comes knocking, we leave and take nothing with us, nothing but the love and the relationships we’ve built with people.
I share this with some trepidation, for I am no great saint. I am a saint only in the since that all believers are saints. In fact, I can exclaim, as Paul does, that I am the chief among sinners, but thanks to Jesus, I’ve been washed clean, for a short while, at least, until I sin again, which I’m doing now. But, as Martin Luther said, “Sin boldly”, so I will. I hope something I’ve said struck a note with you and perhaps inspired you to try something new, to look at life a little differently.
One thing I do keep in mind, though, is that while “it all goes back in the box”, I have children who will get to open that box and play with the toys, so it is not all in vain. The tricky part is figuring out which pieces to keep and which to discard by selling or giving them away.
Have a blessed day.