When you are a pastor, most people think that you have all the time in the world to spend with God. After all, that’s what we DO, isn’t it? Unfortunately, too many of us find that when you combine the busyness of every day living, families, finances, and of course, pastoring (which involves so much more than anyone could imagine), even pastors find it difficult to find time to be alone with God. Time to read God’s Word. Time to petition and to praise. Time to be still and listen to what God has to say.
So, it occurs to me that if PASTORS have difficulty finding time to be alone with God, how much more difficult is it for people in the corporate workplace and for those that stay at home with their children to even have the desire to spend time alone with God, much less find the time to do it?
I’ve put together a few Q&As that might help what we, as pastors, anticipate would be questions from our congregation. Hopefully, these suggestions will help them better connect with God. It might even be worth the time to put something like this in print for your church to use. (Download the printable "Quiet Time FAQs" below.)
Question: What time of day is the best time for a quiet time?
Answer: The best time of the day for most people is in the morning simply because it is the time of a fresh start to the day’s challenges and gives you perspective on your day to come before you enter in to it. Once the day gets underway, I have a difficult time concentrating on uninterrupted personal time with God. Mornings are best for me. But different people have different rhythms to their lives and to their days. For some it is possible that noon or evening or midnight is their most productive time to connect with God. There is no wrong or right answer to this question.
Question: How should I start and end my quiet time?
Answer: There is room for individuality here. I like to begin with a daily devotional book, like Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest or a chapter from an inspirational Christian book. I call this the “spiritual warm-up.” Before a fitness workout, I need a warm-up to get the blood going. It’s the same for time with God. Some might prefer to begin with a song of worship, some with a posture of kneeling, others with a reading of the Bible, and still others with prayer. The point is to connect with God. You know when you are talking with someone and yet you are really detached. For our quiet times to accomplish their purpose we need to engage with God. Often a simple prayer is a good beginning: “Lord, help me to know you better today. Open my heart and mind to Your Word. Show me what you want me to know and do.” It has really helped me to journal my prayers to the Lord. It helps me stay focused on Him.
Question: How does a quiet time really impact you each day?
Answer: In an earthly relationship, there are days when just being able to say, “thanks” or “I love being with you,” is enough to further the relationship. On other days, a lengthy conversation in which important issues are covered is needed to refresh and re-establish the closeness in your relationship. It is this way in our relationship with God. Sometimes great changes are embarked upon; some days, small reassurances are achieved. But we connect with the living God, and when we do, His Spirit pours into our lives afresh, and we are renewed, whether in big or small ways. I wouldn’t last 30 days as a pastor without daily time alone with God. Nothing is more important in our relationship with Him.
Question: What can keep me from having a quality quiet time?
Answer: The number one reason is time pressure, but distractions and a wandering mind make it a challenge at times. You will likely have an unproductive interaction with God if you are tired or distracted and just going through the motions to check it off your “to do” list. He wants to have close fellowship with us. If we stay up all night playing and expect to have a refreshing quiet time early the next morning, it probably won’t happen. Parents with newborns will find it very difficult to have quality quiet times, at least as they measure them by previous times of uninterrupted quiet and emotional energy. Children are a seeming distraction from God but do not have to be. Nap time or time before they get up or after they have gone to bed for the night may be best.
Question: What are some methods for doing a quiet time?
Answer: Here are some suggestions…
- First, ask God for the desire and discipline to have meaningful time with Him.
- Use a daily devotional guide that helps lead you to what God has in mind for you that day.
- Journal your way through a book of the Bible recording your prayers, thoughts and actions to attempt in application of what you read. It’s amazing to look back and see what God has done in your life through this process.
- Read a passage of Scripture (it’s best not to jump around, so start in a book of the Bible and stay there awhile) until God causes some portion of it to stand out to you. I usually suggest starting in the New Testament to give you a better understanding of the Old Testament. Meditate and pray over this portion until you identify what God is saying to you. Ask Him to help you put into practice whatever principles or commands or knowledge you discern.
I pray that these suggestions will help you, as a pastor, better lead your congregation to not let the busyness of life prevent them from the richness found in a daily, intimate, close, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.