Thursday, November 6, 2014

How to Find a Quiet Time Routine That Works

Ahhh, quiet times. Such a vital, important part of the Christian life, but sometimes finding a routine that works and that you can be consistent with can be really daunting. For years, I have struggled with being consistent in my quiet times. I go through phases where I read my Bible and spend time with the Lord every day, faithfully, for a period of time. Then something knocks my routine out of whack and I'll fall off the wagon and sometimes it can be weeks (and in the early days of mothering, months even), before I jump back on. I am a routine person-I thrive on a routine and schedule and I started to notice that when my routines would change, my quiet times suffered. For example, I'll do really great on my QT routine until we go out of town. Then, because my days are totally different, I forget to read and don't even give it a second thought until we return home. Then, because it has been a week since I've read and my Bible is still packed away and I'm not physically seeing it, it's not at the forefront of my mind and another week passes before I realize I haven't read my Bible in two entire weeks! Yikes! BUT. I am happy to say that I have been on a really consistent quiet time for several months now and this time it is working, and sticking for me. 
Here are some tips to help you figure out what will work for you, too! 

Remember why quiet times are important.
First and foremost, you need to ask yourself why you want to have a quiet time. Why it is important to you. And even more importantly, why it's important to God. Why does God want us to spend time with Him consistently, reading the Word and talking with Him? 2 Timothy Chapter 3 tells us "All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work."

What do you want your quiet time to look like? 
What IS a quiet time to you? Is it reading the Bible? Is it journaling? Is it praying? Is it listening to worship music? Listening to a sermon online? Doing a study? Ask yourself what you want it to look like and what will keep it enjoyable for you. 

How do you learn best? 
One thing that is important to keep in mind is how you learn. I love writing, so for me, journaling really helps me to retain the information. I typically take "notes" as I am reading through the Bible. I will write down key points or verses that I want to remember, and even if I never come back to it, I typically remember it better from writing it down. If you learn best from listening, maybe online sermons would be really effective quiet times for you. 

What time of day are you most alert?
I once heard a sermon where the pastor was saying that while he hated to be legalistic, he really thought that everyone should aim to have quiet times first thing in the morning. While I tend to agree with him because it starts our day off on the right foot and we are in the spirit and hopefully that would continue on through our day and we can be thinking about what we read and praying over it throughout the day, I simply can't make it work. I have tried time and time again to get into an early morning QT routine and it does.not.work. for me and my family. I have tried waking up 30 minutes-1 hour before my kids and it just doesn't ever happen. I either hit the snooze button, or that is the week that they start waking up before my alarm even goes off, an hour earlier than normal (how do they know?!). Evening quiet times also don't work for me because I am too tired by then. I am skimming it just to get through it and not really taking things in and getting anything out of it. After A LOT of trial and error, I've found that the best time for me is in the afternoon, immediately after I put my kids down for their nap. I am most alert and relaxed during that time and I can retain the most information then.

Set "restrictions" if you have to.
I don't typically need to do this now, but I remember in college, I had a sticky note on my lap top that reminded me not to get on Facebook before I had a quiet time that day. If I hadn't had my quiet time yet, I didn't have time for Facebook. It worked really well for me during that time. I know some people have a lot of success with setting a reminder on their phone. Some need a restriction like you have to do X before you can do Y. 

Remember that it doesn't have to look perfect.
For a long time, I wanted the instagram perfect quiet time. You know the one I'm talking about-early morning just after the sunrise, with your bible open, pen flowing and cup of coffee steaming. Ok, maybe I still kind of want that ;) But it is not realistic for me in this season of my life. Most days my quiet time looks like me sitting on the couch or bed, listening to babbling voices as they start to fall asleep. I have had seasons where I've had my quiet times where one child is awake because that is all that works (and I'm sure with a baby coming and one child growing older and probably out of a nap soon, that will soon be reality for me again).

 A wise older woman in my church once told me, while I was going through one of those phases-having quiet time while my oldest was awake and antsy for me to play-that she thinks it is a beautiful picture of obedience and that God will really bless that. She said that for her, whose children are grown, its really easy to just sit down and have her quiet time and have it be QUIET and really easy to focus and get it done. But what she saw when I described my quiet time was obedience to the Lord in the fact that even though it is not ideal and not easy to focus, I'm still committed to doing it. That really changed my perspective on the whole "perfect quiet time" thing. God is happy you are spending time with Him. He doesn't care if you are doing that in the bathroom, on your back deck or sitting on your floor in the dark with a flash light. 

If you fall, get back up.
This is the hardest thing for me. Once I don't have a quiet time for a few days in a row, for whatever reason, it is hard for me to start having them again. Am I alone here?! It is so important to pick right back up where you left off. It is probably not realistic to say that you are going to be able to have a dedicated quiet time every single day for the rest of your life, no matter how committed you are and how badly you want to do that. Life happens. You might get sick, travel, have an emergency come up or just forget one day. And that is ok! Grace abounds. I have gotten to the point where I know what kinds of things get me off the band wagon-it is always being out of my routine in some way, whether that is caring for a sick little for a week, traveling, having a change in my kid's nap schedules, having my husband off work for a holiday, etc. I now know that I need accountability to get me back on track. I can ask a friend or my husband to remind me to have quiet times when we are on vacation. Or set alarms to remember to do it. Putting my Bible right out on my kitchen counter is always a good reminder because then I see it all day and remember to do it. Figure out what you need and don't be afraid to ask others to help you with that. 

What does your quiet time routine look like? How do you stay consistent and what has helped you to be faithful in this area? Share away! 
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2 comments:

  1. I'm with you on the struggle to get back into it! I have had pretty irregular quiet times lately and need to revamp my morning schedule! Thanks for the tips, Natalie :)

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  2. This is so truthful and practical! Thanks for sharing!

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