I read something the other day that made me stop and think. It went something like this: God’s characteristic way of working is in quietness and prayer. Yet, it seems that in today’s society, quietness is nearly non-existent.
Nearly everywhere we go, noise is being promoted. Whether we’re shopping, eating out or participating in any number of activities, there is usually music or a radio station being played “in the background.” And restaurants of varying sizes and clientele now offer TVs as well — usually more than one and usually on different stations with the volume turned on. To carry on a conversation at some of these restaurants becomes frustrating, if not impossible. Then we also have added into the mix the not-so-private cell phone conversations being carried on at the table next to us. This list goes on and on. That’s what’s outside our homes.
Sadly, once in the privacy of our homes, things may not be much better. Family dinners around the kitchen table with everyone sharing their day are all but extinct. In many homes, families may still gather at the kitchen table, but cell phones are positioned next to plates as if they are another utensil and a TV is blaring nearby because we don’t want to miss the news, or because one of our favorite shows is on. Then there are the “family” dinners that aren’t even in the kitchen at all. Instead, these are found in the living room or family room with the TV front and center. And, for many families, most dinners are “on the go,” grabbing a bite between activities which have family members running helter-skelter in multiple directions.
Many of us have become so accustomed to noise that we find it harder and harder to do without it. Even when we’re alone, we have to have noise. The TV comes on first thing in the morning, is turned back on immediately after work, and stays on until the sleep timer shuts it off for us. And, what’s really sad is that sometimes we sit and watch TV shows we don’t even particularly like or enjoy — we just want the noise. We seem to have an aversion to quiet. I know. I’ve been guilty.
Bad habits can start innocently enough. For me, it was the death of my husband. The noise helped keep me from feeling quite so alone. But after a while, I realized this was not how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. So I intentionally went back to my pre-widow days of enjoying true quiet times alone with God in the early morning hours — no TV, no background music, only the sound of clocks ticking. I returned to the wonderful anticipation of waking up and being excited to see what God has for me in His Word.
If we are conditioned to only respond to noise, we will miss out on God’s word for us. We will miss hearing his still, small voice. As Christians, we should no longer be content to remain in our fast-paced, noisy world and let our time alone with God “just happen.” We must re-condition ourselves and purposely set aside a time of quiet and solitude every day. It must become a priority for us to find a time and a place where we can meet one-on-one with God and enjoy his presence.
I realize what is idyllic for one is not for all. We are all made differently and we are all wired a bit differently. And, besides that, no two homes are the same. So many factors have to be considered when planning your personal quiet time. For instance, I think of the working single parents with young children at home who are often stretched so thin with responsibilities that it’s hard to find time to think, much less spend a few relaxing quiet moments alone with God.
For those of you who struggle to find a few minutes to yourselves for a quiet time, I encourage you to read a blog Jennifer Rothschild recently posted entitled, “Who Made the Quiet Time Rules, Anyway?” at http://www.jenniferrothschild.com.
Bottom line: quiet times alone with God don’t often “just happen.” They must be planned. And it’s up to each one of us to evaluate our lifestyle and intentionally plan our daily one-on-one time with God. Whether it is in the privacy of your own home or (as Jennifer suggests) in the car or on the treadmill, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that, wherever you are, you are able to turn off the world’s noise, focus on God, and fine-tune your hearing so you can hear what His Spirit is whispering to you.
Question: In the fast-paced world that circles around you, how do you intentionally set aside a quiet one-on-one time with God? What does your quiet time look like?