I am a faithful quiet time in the morning girl. Maybe you are too. I can start off the day pretty strong but inevitably, I am bombarded by opportunities to veer from the center of gravity and the firm foothold that I found in reading God’s Word and praying that morning.
In Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Peter Scazzero talks about what he calls a “Daily Office”. This is a mid-day mini-quiet time with God that includes a few minutes of slowing down, getting silent, reading a paragraph or two of a devotion and ending in 2 minutes of silence again.
It’s basically a reset much like our morning time can be. After hearing about it, I realized how much I relied on that morning time to carry me through the day. But I still had these honest thoughts:
-- I thought how hard it’d be to add another thing into my day. And I saw it as just that. Another thing to cram in my day. Another habit to start. Another discipline to overwhelm me… and another thing to fail at.
-- As much as I tried to include God in my day, subconsciously, I thought I was doing Him the favor of coming with me through my day. I hadn’t reached the realization that I NEEDED Him! This was all completely subconscious. If you had asked me whether I need Him minute-by-minute I would have said yes. But I didn’t realize that meant GOING TO HIM.
-- I thought my morning time with Him was the big hearty breakfast that would get me through the day.
My thoughts could not have been more wrong. I was demanding that 30 minutes or even an hour in the morning with God would carry me through the next 24 hours. Sure, I’d pray or read some verses throughout the day if I had time, but I saw that as lagniappe or bonus.
I found myself so frustrated that I could have these amazing quiet times so filled with the spirit and then a few hours later forget all about Him and lose that joy and peace. I have shared a bit about experiencing more of God’s presence on an ongoing basis and intentional planned time helps us develop this ability.
"THIS ISN'T ABOUT MARKING ANOTHER THING OFF YOUR TO-DO LIST. IT'S ABOUT BEING SO AWAKE TO HIS LOVE AND GRACE FOR US THAT OUR ONLY RESPONSE IS TO WANT MORE OF HIM."
It’s about expectation that more time with the Father will change us. It’s a realization that He’s already with us, we simply need to look for Him and stop looking at the worthless things
I’m starting to experience a new abundant life. What I thought was abundant before, was really eating a big breakfast and slowly feeling the hunger creep in and take over as the day got later until I was famished. And you know that hunger you feel when you are sooo hungry that you no longer want to eat?? That happened often too. Now I feast throughout the day in the presence of God.
Peter says this about sisters Mary and Martha in Luke “I suspect if Mary were to help with the many household chores, she would not be worried or upset. Why? Her inner person has slowed down enough to focus on Jesus and to center her life on him.”
This resonated with me. You can still do all the practical things that need to get done without experiencing all the “worry and upset” that Martha felt. For me, I have been experiencing this odd steadiness in my heart. Life feels less like a rollercoaster governed by every worry or upset. And it’s made me a more patient mom.
I cannot do this on my own and in my own strength. That’s always been the case. I’m just finally starting to accept the gift of ongoing conversation with the Father that I need to experience all this.
So what does this look like practically?
1. Pick a time of day and commit to talking with God then.
I’d even think about your day and the times that seem to derail you the most. Maybe it’s right before picking up the kids or maybe it’s right after lunch when you lose steam or motivation. Or maybe it’s around 5’clock when the kids get restless and the husband isn’t home yet.
2. Find a good devotional to incorporate.
Peter wrote a 40 day devotional of Daily Offices that I am going through now to start make this a habit. One of my favorite short daily devotionals is New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp. They are one page long, but amazingly deep and thought-provoking. Peter’s Daily Office starts with 2 minutes of silence (because we’re usually stopping in the middle of a busy day!) some Scripture and short devo and 2 more minutes of silence and prayer. Don’t get hung up on a formula, but this has helped me make the time intentional when I didn’t know where to start. You can also check out the devotional plans on the YouVersion Bible app for free.
3. Set a reminder on your phone or put it in your planner.
We all know we should meditate on God’s Word throughout the day and pray without ceasing, but just like anything else we want to make a priority in our life, if we don’t plan for it, it rarely happens. Life moves in fast and furious once our days get started. Can you imagine spending 5 extra minutes getting still and quiet before the Lord before you pick your kids up instead of surfing the internet on your phone and the difference it would make? It doesn’t have to be long. Just a short little reset that reminds us we NEED God.
4. Recognize our need and let that drive us to Him throughout our day.
Actually, the book New Morning Mercies has really helped me see God’s love and grace in a whole new way so if you have trouble recognizing the need, I’d recommend digging into that book!
5. Start practicing slow Sabbaths one day a week for the whole day.
After doing this for over a year (some weeks better than others), this delight is starting to creep into the rest of my week and give me pause in God’s presence. I absolutely love it. There’s still plenty of work the other 6 days of the week and it’s a subtle shift, but a really meaningful one when I can take a few moments to slow down. This attitude that pausing for a few minutes even in a chaotic day is important is a hard one to grasp. I really don’t know if I would have been able to do this without forcing myself and learning how to embrace “no progress” on Sabbath days.