It’s not often I’ve read an article that has changed my view on something pretty radically. This article is by a guy names Greg Johnson on something called “Quiet Time Guilt”. I’ll throw the link to the article down at the bottom of the page – read it! Everything I’m writing is just a thought derived from his genius.
Prayer. Bible Study. Quiet Time.
The three things above are all great things. We encourage our youth, friends, and ourselves to do them each and every day. These three things lead to a closer relationship with God…right?
I’ve grown up thinking that if I do what I’m supposed to do I will become closer to God. The best way to reach Him is to pray to Him and read his Word. This is true – but to be honest, we’ve ruined it. We make God out to be a chore. The more devotional consistency we have, the more we will grow towards Him. If we have our quiet times each and every day/night/whenever, we will grow in Christ. This idea is radically wrong.
Why is this wrong? We’re forgetting the most important element of our faith – grace.
When grace leaves the equation, what do we have left? Do we view our prayers, Bible studies, and quiet times as an act of grace or a work? Think about this hard and be honest with yourself. The majority of the time, which is it? For me it’s a work. And that’s not just wrong, but it’s a sin.
“You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (Jn 5:39-40). These are words from the very mouth of Jesus Christ. Did you catch what He said? Diligent study of the Scriptures as a work and not as an act of grace can be a sin. Do we go to Jesus when we read the Scriptures, or do we go to moral support and “feel-goody-ness” (and yes, that is a word…).
God doesn’t like it when we do our quiet times for ourselves. He doesn’t like it when we do things to build ourselves up instead of Him. God doesn’t want us to be devotionally consistent if it means giving Him up. What I’m saying here is that if you are devotionally consistent because you think that’s what makes a good Christian – you’re wrong.
God wants us to come to Him because we feel weak – not strong. We need God. Unless we go to Him because our hearts need him, what will it accomplish? I like the analogy of a drug user for this one. Many who are addicts want to quit, but they don’t. Heck, they need to quit to sustain their lives, but they don’t. The only way that a drug addict can give up the desires of their flesh is to need to in their heart. Sins are our drug. The only way that we will stop using is to need God more than we need sin. We need to recognize in our hearts that we’re weak, that we’re sinners, and that we need help.
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 18:9-14).
The tax collector who goes to God in a state of weakness is the one who is right here – not the one who is “strong”.
I’m going to end it with one of my favorite points – quiet time is optional.
That’s right – I said it. We don’t need a quiet time every day. In fact, we’re commanded to pray continually! Not just for 30 minutes once a day. If you have a quiet time and it’s working for you and your relationship with God, that’s awesome. Just keep the two things separate. Your quiet time and your devotional consistency is not your relationship with God. Your relationship with God is your relationship with God.
If you’re asked, “How is your relationship with God?”, your answer should not be “Good! I had an awesome quiet time this morning” or “Not too good…haven’t had my quiet time for a while…” Your answer should be real. “I’ve felt so close to God this week. I realized that I don’t have to pray and read my Bible. I realized that I get to pray and read my Bible! How cool is that!”
I hope you guys are picking up what I’m throwing down. I could keep this going forever. I love the thought of this. I love talking about this. Keep the discussion going, and don’t forget to read Greg’s article (below). It’s well-written, honest, and convicting.