Ah…the allusive quiet time. We know we should do it and we even want to but it’s something that is just plain hard sometimes. Over the course of many years, I’ve learned some sure-fire ways to sabotage my quiet time. By knowing the pitfalls, we can position ourselves for success. Here are 8 mistakes I’ve made along the way that once rectified have helped me be more consistent and fruitful during my time alone with God.
Mistake #1: Going At It Alone
I’m certain this one doesn’t apply to everyone but for me, finding a time of quiet is no easy task. There is always someone demanding my attention or assistance. With good intentions, I would try to carve out a time to spend with God, but regularly found myself interrupted. I was at a loss. I felt defeated. I needed help. It took me a while to realize, I had to actually ask for help. One day in frustration, I vented to my husband. He looked at me like I had a third eye. Why haven’t you said something? Why haven’t you told me? We’ll make this happen. Could it be as simple as just asking for help? I think so. Even if help isn’t from your spouse, there is someone who would like to help you grow in your relationship with God. I know because I’m one of them.
Mistake #2: Starting Without a Plan
I know I’m not the only one who has sat down to have a quiet time and thought, “Okay, so I’m here, now what?”
Make a plan for you time alone with God. Make sure it involves:
- time in the Bible,
- time in prayer and
- time to hear from God.
I’m not suggesting you program your relationship with God but when Jared and I go on Date Night we have a plan (most of the time). Make the most of your “date” with God. There are so many good reading plans on smart phone apps such as the Bible Gateway app. And let’s not even get started on devotionals. When I use a devotional, I always look for one that requires I open my Bible. My primary word of wisdom involving devotionals is that you choose carefully. Not all devotionals are created equal. Make sure the one you use lines up with Scripture.
Mistake #3: Being Too Rigid With the Plan
Depending on your personality type, you might feel some sort of obligation to stick too closely with the plan. You intended to read an entire chapter one day but God began to speak to you through one particular verse and you got “off track.” Take a deep breath. Your quiet time isn’t about a competition–it’s a about a relationship. God will slow you down purposely to teach you. It’s okay. A plan is important but don’t allow it to be inflexible.
Mistake #4: Checking Off The Boxes
Are you a list checker? Do you add something to the list even after you’ve already done it just so you can check it off? Guilty. I admit it. I love to check off a list. This is easily carried over in my time with God. I’ll sit down with my time alone with God and sometimes realize I’m just checking it off my list. Newsflash: This is not a productive way to nurture a relationship. If my husband hung out with me only to check it off his marital duty list, it would not set well with me.
Quiet times are intended for delight in one another. They are designed for intimacy and disclosure. Make sure you don’t just check God off your list.
Mistake #5: Becoming Convinced You’ve Got Enough Jesus
Have you faithfully had a quiet time for years, gone to Bible Study and sat through countless sermons? You have a LOT of Jesus. When life gets hectic, it’s easy to think you’ve got enough Jesus, so you’ll just skip your time with God. Stop! It’s a lie. It is straight deception from hell itself. You CANNOT get enough Jesus. I repeat YOU CANNOT GET ENOUGH JESUS. There is always more Jesus to be had and if you think you’re good…you’ve entered dangerous territory. You have positioned yourself to fall into temptation and stray from God.
Mistake #6: Giving Up
Number six is closely related to five. There are always reasons to miss or stop meeting with God. You’re busy, you’re tired, you’re over-scheduled or you’ve missed so many. Even if you miss, start back. Even if you’re busy, you’re tired or you’re over-scheduled…do it. It goes without saying, we do the things which we value most. Make time with God a priority.
Mistake #7: Hiding It From Your Kids
For lots of moms with young kids, those little people are the biggest obstacle for you. I know because I live it. However, I talk to my kids often about my quiet time. I’ll tell them they get thirty minutes of screen time so I can have my quiet time. I mention in conversation what I do in my quiet time and why I have my quiet time.
In fact, my oldest (age 7) and I were having a conversation the other day about how hard it is to be parent. I was telling her how demanding it is for parents because their kids always want something. She turned to me and replied, “Isn’t that why you have your quiet time?” Ouch! But, wow! She’s catching it. She’s putting the pieces together and she’s seeing it modeled. She is much more likely to repeat such an action later in life because she’s watched her mom do it. Don’t hide your relationship with Jesus from your children. It’s not a secret. It is a gift to be shared.
Mistake #8: Never Starting
Let’s face it. Creating a new habit requires an intentional choice. It can’t simply be just a good idea or something you intend to do someday. You’ve just got to do it. Pull the trigger–start today. If you say you’ll start this summer when you have more time or when the kids are out of the house or when finances are more settled–you’re missing the source of strength and peace to walk you through each of these times. You have to make a decision to meet with God and you’ve got to continue to make the decision every day. You’ve got this. Start today.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list. What mistakes have you encountered or made in your time alone with God?