Do you remember a time when you actually had time to do quiet time, and that time was actually quiet?
For me, it was a decade ago, when I was a university student. The first thing I’d do upon waking up was to dive into God’s Word, meditate upon it, and spend time with the Lord in prayer and worship.
Upon hearing my quiet time routine, an older church sister wistfully remarked: “Enjoy this time while it lasts. Once you start work, it’ll get harder and harder to have quiet time.”
She was right. When I started work as a journalist, I could no longer enjoy extended time with the Lord. In the mornings, I’d be busy preparing for the day’s interviews. And by the time work ended at 11 p.m., I’d be too tired to have my quiet time.
Marriage and motherhood came next, and while I no longer need to run around to file stories, I now find myself waking up multiple times each night to nurse my son, attending to him when he has a diaper crisis in the wee hours of the morning, rushing about to prepare his meals, pump milk, wash bottles . . . and after all that’s settled, starting work. Oh, and laundry.
Is Quiet Time . . . a Waste of Time?
Even though I miss spending uninterrupted time with the Lord in solitude—and sometimes feel guilty that I don’t have that time anymore—I must confess that a part of me, deep down, is tempted to believe that quiet time isn’t too important. Or, at least, not as important as attending to my son’s immediate needs, meeting my work deadlines, or doing housework.
“Many of us have a hard time coming to the Lord with quiet time because what it comes down to is our unbelief.”
That’s why I was jolted awake when I attended The Gospel Coalition’s 2022 Women’s Conference, and heard these words spoken by one of the speakers, author Irene Sun: “Many of us have a hard time coming to the Lord with quiet time because what it comes down to is our unbelief, our lack of faith, our not believing that the Bible is actually precious to us.”
During the breakout session, “When You Don’t Have Quiet or Time: Meeting with God in a Busy World”, the Malaysian-born mother of four quoted Isaiah 30:15–16:
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.
You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’
Therefore you will flee!
You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’
Therefore your pursuers will be swift!
“Instead of fellowshipping with the Lord, we keep a schedule, follow our agenda of the day, and get things checked off the list,” notes Irene. “We think that if we’re just fast enough, if we’re more productive, we can actually get things done.”
In Isaiah 30:15, however, God Himself tells us that our salvation is found in repentance and rest, and our strength comes from quietness and trust. “This is why,” she says, “we must believe that it’s not a waste of time, and it’s not unproductive to be spending time with the Lord.”
But how can we do that amid the busyness of family life? If you’re like me and struggling to have quiet time, here are some questions to consider that I’ve found instructive:
1. What are our hearts drawn to?
Perhaps the reason why some of us unconsciously believe that quiet time is a waste of time is that our hearts are inclined towards the wrong things.
As the Bible warns us, the human heart is deceitful, corrupted, and easily led astray.
It might do us good to examine what our hearts are drawn to. Is it the worries and cares of today? Is it our children’s needs and behaviour? Money woes?
As the Bible warns us, the human heart is deceitful, corrupted, and easily led astray. It’s why Proverbs 4:20–23 emphasises:
My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
As we prayerfully examine our hearts, let us reflect if we have been more inclined to the things of this world, and to re-orient ourselves back to what we were created and commanded to do: “To love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” and to put His commands “on your hearts”—and to teach them to our children (Deuteronomy 6:4–7).
“Verse 7 isn’t saying: ‘Sit down with a cup of coffee, open up your Bible, and study the text verse by verse’,” notes another panelist Hunter Beless, a mother of three and founder of the Journeywomen podcast. “It’s saying: ‘Talk of God’s commands when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise’.”
In today’s practical terms, we could do this while taking our kids to the park, buying groceries at the supermarket, or even folding a load of laundry. “There’s many ways we can spend time with the Lord in His Word, and it’s really an issue of whether my heart loves God and His Word,” says Hunter.
2. What are we really busy with?
Parenthood can leave many of us feeling like we’re being swallowed up by our daily to-do list. But we might do well to review that list, says Betsy Childs Howard, a mother and editor for The Gospel Coalition.
“We live in a world of distraction and busyness, and sometimes it might be that we’re trying to live outside our limits,” she says. “We might have taken on too much, so that we have too many looming deadlines and commitments for the day.”
Do we feel like we always need to be doing something—when God is actually calling us to rest and simply abide in Him?
To counter this, we need to look at how we can orient our lives differently. Are we prioritising time with the Lord? Or are we getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of productivity, and feeling like we always need to be doing something—when God is actually calling us to rest and simply abide in Him?
3. Do we see quiet time as a chore?
Most of us would not see going on a date night with our spouse, or cuddling our children as they share about their day at bedtime, as a burden. So why should we view time spent with the Lord as an onerous task? Do we see quiet time as yet one more chore that “needs” to be done?
After all, as we commune with God in prayer and in reading His Word, what we’re really doing is getting to know—and love—Him.
“It’s important for us to realise that God has given us His Word because He wants to be known,” says Amy DiMarcangelo, author and mum of three. “So reading His Word isn’t this chore to do—it’s an invitation to really know Him and to know how to live like Jesus.”
Hunter agrees: “As we go to the Word—this wonderful love letter—we draw near to a Person—and that Person is Jesus Christ.”
“Reading His Word isn’t this chore to do—it’s an invitation to really know Him and to know how to live like Jesus.”
As we seek to reclaim our quiet time with the Lord, let us re-orient our hearts towards God and His Word, relook what’s on our to-do list, and rethink how we see quiet time.
And as we commit to reading, treasuring, and meditating upon God’s Word, may we do so because we want to know and love Him more.
What are some practical ways we can restart our quiet time? Read Part 2 of this two-part series here.