In the last post I talked about my belief that the label “quiet time” should actually be called (and lived out as) “spending time with God” throughout the entirety of a day—due to the pressure (internal and external) that is put on a person to feel or hear something significant in a designated time slot having to be with God.
Here’s where this all came from:
I just got done speaking at North Park University (NPU) and I was waiting on Foster St. for the #92 bus to take me back to my office. I had a great talk as the undergrads at NPU really resonated with my thoughts, stories and challenges (can I just add a side note to say how much I love the folks over at NPU’s Center for Youth Ministry Studies—every time I’m there it’s a total first class event). I was flying high, and yet when the final Q&A time had finished and I packed up my stuff to head out, by the time I got to the bus stop I felt very incomplete. I hadn’t had my quiet time that morning, or the last ten or twelve mornings for that matter.
And I felt like a huge hypocrite.
How could I stand in front of a bunch of undergraduate students at a Christian university and teach them about building bridges with gays and lesbians and tell them how important the Holy Rock is in the process, and then know in the back of my head I hadn’t done what I thought I needed to do?
I started to cry at that bus stop. I felt like a fraud and I couldn't stop apologizing to God. And that is when his gentle and loving voice swept through my spirit and brought peace. He said:
“Andy, spending time with me isn’t just an extended chunk of silence. You’re not less connected to me because you haven’t sat down in a traditional form of quiet time. Your quiet time with me is all day, because you talk to me all day Andy. Relationship is not about the ask, it’s about the communication. And your daily communication with me is full and loved. Keep your spirit open and keep talking, and stop feeling bad or guilty about missing what you think is a proper amount of quiet time.”
We are all to live our daily lives fully encompassed in relationship and conversation with God, with the cognitive recognition we’re in his presence even when we don’t feel it. I have come to believe that many people think a successful quiet time has to be based on a feeling of ... [fill in your own blank] rather than the cognitive recognition of the sacrifice of being intentional to be in relationship with God throughout the day. So let’s then concentrate on the process of the relationship with our Creator and not just the block of time.
The lingering question then, is that: “You said in the beginning of the first post that alone time with God is not only a good practice, it’s also needed—what's up with your contradictions?”
I’m not asking anyone to go wholesale and ditch a traditional form of quiet time. But what I am asking is for people to put a proper perspective on what quiet time is meant to be—not limiting yourself or God to a half hour, an hour, two hours, etc. of time in a day that is meant to be the time to communicate with—or be communicated by our Father. My words are not an enlightenment on quiet time, they are a not-so-subtle reminder that the burden of being with God does not just have to permeate within a label of what we recognize as quiet time.
Therefore we are to “spend time with God” walking daily in the knowledge that our real-time God exists as such, and in speaking with him throughout the day is the same relationally, conversationally, and just as effective as spending all day, every day in quiet time with God.
If you don’t box God in, you won’t be boxed in yourself.