Quiet Time ~ Gratitude ~ Service ~ Exercise
Devotional Quiet Time
Spending time with God is more than a duty or a struggle; it is a great pleasure. In the devotional quiet time we enter into this pleasure in a special way. In the beginning of his Confessions, Augustine writes, “You stimulate [us] to take pleasure in praising you, because you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they can find peace in you.”3 In a devotional quiet time we are invited by God to enter and enjoy this satisfying rest.
I turn to Scripture passages that I have already studied in some depth. I spend time chewing over a passage until, with Paul in Ephesians, I marvel at the spiritual blessings that have been given to us through Jesus. Or I experience with Peter the unspeakable joy of receiving the goal of my faith, the salvation of my soul.
Sometimes it is helpful to use your imagination to enter into the passage—feeling, smelling and hearing what is happening. I know that many people are not comfortable with using the imagination in this way. If so, ignore the next paragraph. I use this sort of approach because Scripture is full of images. I believe that I am honoring the Lord’s intent when I take them so seriously that I give all my senses to understand and experience them.
Psalm 23 is a favorite of mine. I imagine myself in a restful green pasture. The sun is shining warmly on me, and the blue sky has a few drifting white clouds. A couple of large trees provide just the right shade. I find myself alone with the Lord, away from the pressures that burden me. As I settle, I find a living faith inside me that the Lord is indeed present. Along with David, I know the reality of the Lord who is restoring my soul.
Prayer in the devotional quiet time is woven into meditation on the Scriptures. It is rich and varied with fewer lists. Less than half of my prayer time is taken up with petitions and intercession during such devotional times.
Words are not always necessary in this devotional time. I have been delighted to read of Joyce Huggett’s experience in The Joy of Listening to God. “What I heard in those times of listening was more than a voice. It was a presence. Yes. I heard the Lord call my name. But I also ‘heard’ his tenderness. I soaked up his love …. I had never delighted in God in this way before. And it had never occurred to me that God wanted me to linger in his presence so that he could show me that he delighted in me.”4
The devotional quiet time is filled with emotion. A hunger for the Lord exists along with a sense of being filled. You may feel a pulling on your heart that draws you to the Lord, a calling out that increases at his touch. Often there is a sense of warmth, love and joy. Anger, even fear may be present. Always there is a strong sense of God’s presence. You know that he is with you.
The devotional quiet time generally lasts longer than other types and requires some leisure. Five minutes fade into fifteen and then an hour. This sense of unhurried leisure may be uncomfortable as you first enter into a devotional quiet time. You wonder if you are merely wasting time and should be doing something more productive. If these thoughts occur, stop to remind yourself of the eternal value of being with God.
Our busy lifestyles don’t lend themselves to the leisure that a devotional quiet time requires. The devotional quiet time is practiced on a regular basis—perhaps not every day, but several times during the week. You may take an hour or two one day and then only brief times for the next couple of days.
While the devotional quiet time is most delightful, I have discovered that I don’t stay there. Sometimes God gives us that delightful and deep sense of worship; sometimes he doesn’t. God doesn’t show up on cue, nor does he come to us in ways that we demand. The enduring reality of such pleasure in worship won’t come until we see the Lord in heaven.
Stephen D. Eyre, Drawing close to God: The Essentials of a Dynamic Quiet Time: A Lifeguide Resource (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995).