If you’ve spent time in many Christian churches, you’ve probably heard the terms “quiet time” or “devotions.” But what do these terms mean? Are such activities important? Does a quiet time require a particular method or discipline?
This means that we don’t pray because God demands it as a prerequisite for salvation. We pray because we want to be united with God. People don’t speak to their spouse because of a contractual obligation; they do it because good communication is how they maintain a healthy relationship. The same is true for our relationship with God.
A quiet time (or devotions) is an expression of this truth. It’s a regular appointment that we keep with God that allows us to block out other distractions and focus on our connection with Jesus through practices like prayer and Bible reading. But like all Christian disciplines, maintaining a regular devotional time in and of itself isn’t the point—maintaining a close connection to Christ is.
Before he was crucified, Jesus drove home this important point to his followers (and to us):
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”—John 15:1-4
Through the discipline of maintaining that connection to the vine (Jesus), we are personally transformed and become fruitful.
So, while we’ll be talking about the benefits, importance, and methods for maintaining a significant and meaningful quiet time, remember that all of these point to a practice that helps us forge a closer relationship with Jesus. Believers who make such a commitment must resist the temptation to simply turn it into a task that needs to checked off their to-do list.
We commit to a regular quiet time as a way to deepen our relationship with Christ. And through that connection, we personally grow and become empowered to build the kingdom. But there are other important benefits to establishing a consistent time with God.
In his letter to Titus, Paul laid out his expectations for the kinds of people he wanted to see leading churches. He told Titus that they should be, “hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined” Titus 1:1-8. The need to have willpower and constraint makes the list twice.
Like pushing ourselves to get up in the morning and go to the gym when we don’t feel like it, following through with quiet times builds self-discipline. We all have other things vying for our attention, but every time we say “No” to those other things, we build a disciplined character. And as Paul tells Timothy:
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 1Timothy 4:8
By setting and adhering to our quiet times, we’re training ourselves to practice self-control, and we’re doing it by following through with a habitual behavior that’s incredibly beneficial to us spiritually.
2. It establishes a rhythm in our life
He also established a religious cycle in the lives of the Israelites. They were to work six days, and on the seventh day they were to cease from working and worship him. On top of that, their year was full of consistent feasts and holy days.
A quiet time helps us to maintain our connection to Jesus by establishing a regular rhythm in our own life. We not only have a weekly cadence of corporate worship, but a daily one where we sustain our own personal relationship with Jesus.
3. It keeps us more mindful of God’s presence
One of the biggest challenges of the Christian life is a tendency to go through our day and forget about God. While it’s not intentional, it’s easy to get so preoccupied with our daily lives that we lose sight of the fact that God is right there, present in every moment.
Whenever a believer doesn’t feel very close to God, the first question to ask is “how is your devotional life?Often the problem is just there.
When we have a stable connection to Jesus built upon our daily practice of spending time with him, God’s presence becomes more central to our everyday behavior. It becomes easier to stay mindful of his existence and nearness throughout our day.