I’ve tried the Walk-Thru-The-Bible deal. Chronological Bible. I’ve spent time with Oswald. I’ve tried to drink from the “Streams in the Desert.” Daily Bread. Youthwalk stuff. Yes, thank you very much, I “know” Jesus had quiet times where he got away by himself and prayed. Yes, I even know that Jesus did it “very early in the morning” [Mark 1.35]. But they don’t work.
Sure, they work for a week. Maybe 2 [what is it, 6 weeks that makes a habit?]. But eventually, I forget, feel pretty okay with that, and then the routine is broken. When I was in high school, I made myself do “daily devotions” for a month straight. I liked it. It was actually going well, and then I got sick. Didn’t touch them for a week. And you know what? My days felt the same. I couldn’t relate to my church friends: “Oh, my days are just so much better when I do my quiet times before I go to school…the days that I forget, wow — they are horrible!” I noticed no difference.
So, I’ve always sucked. I still suck.
I’m a youth pastor. I encourage my students to spend time in the Word, to spend time talking with God; although, I don’t ask if they’ve “done their quiet times.” Yet, I find it so hard to spend time studying Scripture. I like getting new Bibles. One of my church’s volunteers just brought me The Message//Remix (he got it from the YS convention). I love it! But have I read from it yet? No.
Talked to a friend this evening. We were both lamenting the fact that we “know” we should be spending time with God, in prayer, by immersing ourselves in the Story of God. Yet, we don’t. And we feel bad about that because we both have drilled into our minds that we are supposed to do daily devotionals. Quiet times are important. Now, we both know you don’t have to do works to be saved. That’s a no-brainer.
Or is it?
Has the Christian culture fed us a lie? They tell us that we are saved solely by grace — then why do my friend and I have these thoughts of guilt in our minds? Some might say “Well, that’s just God convicting you, that you’re not spending enough time with Him.” Okay…maybe. But perhaps it’s just a built-in guilt-mechanism, that really has no warrant.
I don’t think God cares about 15 minutes in the morning.
I don’t think God cares whether or not I do a daily devotional.
So what am I going to do? I’m sick of a guilt that comes most likely not from God, but from a works-based Christian culture that tells me I need to spend x-amount of minutes/day to get my God-fix. So I think I’m done with quiet times. I quit.
So, does that mean I’m not spending time with God throughout the day? Hell no! (To quote Paul from Romans 6.2) That just means that I’m not going to allow myself to think there is one way to spend time with God (I know, these aren’t amazingly profound words, but…oh well). Quiet times don’t work for me. Daily devotionals don’t work. And I’m not going to let that get me down anymore. God wants to know me. God wants to be known. And that can happen in an endless amount of ways — and what could be more exciting than going through life looking for new and meaningful ways to connect with God, to experience God? Rather than waking up 30 minutes earlier [I doubt God is even up before 8am anyway] and being content with a 15-min/day spirituality…