Friday, September 22, 2006

Quiet Time

Well, they say confession is good for the soul: I have a hard time having a regular quiet time. In that regard, I resonate pretty well with what my friend, Greg Johnson has written:
"At one time or another, nearly every sincere believer feels a deep sense of failure and the accompanying feelings of guilt and shame because he or she has failed to set aside a separate time for Bible study and prayer. This condition is called Quiet Time Guilt."
Greg goes on to suggest that this guilt is tied to legalism, an inward condition of the heart in which one believes that the performance of duty whereby we gain or lose God's favor. I don't know if that is exactly it, at least for me.

Instead, I want to spend time in God's word, I want to pray, I want to know the regular rhythms of being in God's presence--not from any sense that I am going to gain or lose God's favor. Rather, I know that it is better for my soul to draw near to God so that he might draw near to me (James 4:8). Reading and thinking about God, enjoying communion with him through his Word, and conversing with him in prayer is a means of grace that confirms and assures my weak heart.

Further, I know that God calls on me to "discipline yourself; keep alert. Like roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). One way of self-discipline is a regular engagement of God in word and prayer. Every since I've been ordained, I've been distinctly aware that the devil is my opponent, seeking to trip me up and see me disqualified for ministry--whether through overt attacks or more subtle temptations. God's Word is a light, lamp, sword, refuge--all of which is necessary in this spiritual war.

But my problem is my utter lack of discipline in this area. I'll start something, only to lose momentum several days or even a couple of weeks into whatever it may be. I'm convinced that it is a spiritual issue--an unwillingness to see my time as belonging completely to God. Instead, I think my time is, well, my time--with which I can choose to dispose as I see fit. And so, when I get up to the morning, I stagger to the sofa, where the morning newspaper is with my cup of coffee (I have a wonderful wife). When I get to my office, I immediately check the messages and start in on email, moving into the day. And the day goes on without any sense that Christ is before and behind me, at my left and right, no sense that God desires communion with me and my soul would do well by communion with him.

So, one of the things I want to do is to blog each Friday about my progress in my devotional life. This past week, I've begun using The Daily Message as a way of reading through and meditating on the Bible. I hope to note each Friday (when I have access to my computer) that I've completed another week's worth of reading. I hope if I fail to do this, dear reader, that someone will comment on my silence and hold me accountable to this.

5 comments:

Celestino. said...

The only person who'll hold you accountable for failing to read and meditate, is you.

pelicanus neoaureliensis said...

Crossway recently released an ESV One Year Bible and is about to release an ESV Daily Reading Bible.

Also, I'm currently working on a Presbyterian prayer book featuring a 4-week ESV psalter for morning and evening prayer that is pointed for Anglican chant, as well as weekly collects (revised per Presbyterian liturgical principles and to conform with the language of the ESV).

Until my project's complete, I'm simply using the 1928 BCP. It's a wonderful discipline of daily prayer that is rooted in an even older tradition. The nice thing is that even when I miss a day I can just jump right back in, and I know that my prayers are biblical (the very words of Scripture when I'm praying the psalms or singing, say, the Nunc Dimmitis) and resonate with the chorus of voices who at present around the globe and in heaven are, and who in the past were, praying the same prayers. Also the collects are nice to include because they're short and sweet yet full of great (Reformed) truth and make me feel more connected to the flow of the liturgical year.

Patrick said...

I'm thankful for this post and the genuine humility it takes for a man in your position with the stores of knowledge you doubtless have to admit a deficiency and to seek growth in this area in community with other believers.

Count me in as a brother who will look forward to your Friday posts. As well as your promised Balmer/Boyd piece.

Patrick said...

Hey Sean. Just checking in to let you know I missed your comments for the week as it relates to how Christ encouraged / challenged / convicted / instructed you this past week in your quiet times with Him.

I trust this reminder finds you encouraged about the growing discipline of spending quality time with God, and just too busy to blog about it.

IHS,
Patrick

Patrick said...

Hey Sean. Just checking in to let you know I missed your comments for the week as it relates to how Christ encouraged / challenged / convicted / instructed you this past week in your quiet times with Him.

I trust this reminder finds you encouraged about the growing discipline of spending quality time with God, and just too busy to blog about it.

IHS,
Patrick