Meditation has a rich tradition in biblical history. It helps a man focus, process his thoughts, hone in on his vision, and regain a sense of perspective about the world around him, assisting him in holding frame and maintaining an amused mastery of life and abundance mentality.
Although there is value in general meditation, as Christians we know there is greater value in focused meditation. Joshua 1:8 says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” That’s right – you want a formula for prosper and success? Meditate on God’s Word and be careful to do everything written in it. That’s the path. Just make sure you’re okay with accepting what God means when he says “prosperous and successful.”
A Christian’s time in the Word is his life blood. John 1 tells us that Jesus is the Word of God. We also know that the Scriptures are Spirit-inspired. They’re also a record of everything the Father has done. No matter how you look at it, if you want to know and love God, you’ve got to go through His Word to do it.
The most basic method of having a quiet time involves three steps. (1) Pray that God opens your heart to love Him and receive what He wants to show you. (2) Read a passage. (3) Prayerfully reflect on the passage and how it can help you be more like Jesus in very practical ways.
A quiet time shouldn’t be an in-depth research session. Put down the commentaries, concordances, internet references, and study notes. Just read casually and absorb what God has to offer. Then meditate on what the Spirit is trying to do in your heart through the passage – or maybe even through something else entirely that has been weighing on you, and the passage is merely a vehicle to orient your gaze back toward Christ. The reflecting should resemble the phrase, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
If you lack anything else in your faith – make this one thing a priority above all else. I believe you will find that emphasis on a daily quiet time will develop in you a compulsion for all other areas of the faith, and thus all other aspects of our walk with Christ cannot appropriately grow if one isn’t spending daily time in the Word.
RELATIONSHIP AND REST
The most often missed aspects of quiet times are the ways it’s meant to be intensely relational and restful. Most people see quiet times as a chore – something they have to do to keep learning new things about the Scriptures. This is not God’s design.
Imagine being on a date with your wife. You ask, “Tell me about your childhood.” She obliges with a 5 minute story. You follow up with, “Okay, now tell me about your trip to Europe as a teenager.” She answers. You continue, “Okay, now tell me about your favorite concert,” and this is how the date goes. You get home and how’s she going to respond?
If it’s all about the information, you’ll never get to experience genuine intimacy – either physical or emotional. You need kino, flirting, teasing, isolation, escalation, etc. What’s the point of the date if it’s not leading anywhere? If you just wanted to gather information about your spouse (or her about you), couldn’t you have done that at home? Or couldn’t you have sent her a questionnaire from your office desk? The point of the date is to build the relationship.
Now, try going the next 3 months with no alone time with your spouse except maybe 15 seconds before eating a meal and see how well the relationship flourishes and how revitalized your bedroom gets. [Hint: It won’t work!] Have you spent some alone time with God yet today?
I once read that dates work best when following a simple pattern:
- Initiate – Get the process started. Set some time aside, make a plan, even if it’s something simple, and just go.
- Isolate – True connection, whether it’s emotional, physical, or spiritual, happens when we’re alone. Think about when you were first dating your spouse. Were you content to stay in large groups together all the time, or did your heart start to race once you were isolated from the group and had each other all to yourselves?
- Escalate – Build the conversation to something meaningful. Don’t stick to pleasantries about the weather. If you’re married, hold hands, then hug, then kiss, then massage, etc.
God tries to initiate this pattern with us. Although we’re meant to connect with him in community, he also wants to connect with us personally through our alone time with him. And God is always trying to escalate. He wants us to grow, to think and feel deeper, and to experience life with him in ways we couldn’t even have imagined. Are you willing to receive his initiation, follow him into isolation, and let him escalate within your spirit? Can you take what God’s trying to do with you and implement those same tactics with your wife?
Or let me get to the point: maybe your wife isn’t responding to your initiation because you’re rejecting God the same way she’s rejecting you. She’s just following your lead. Show her how she should act with you by modeling that behavior with how you react to God’s initiation. That’s how you’ll lead her.
I can’t write about QTs without touching on this subject. Everyone complains, “I don’t have enough time!” or “I’m just not motivated …” Boo hoo. Man up and get it done is what I used to say. Now I realize that there’s a fundamental psychological problem that causes this type of attitude: we see it as work and not rest. It’s a chore that must be checked off our list, and it’s always more fun to procrastinate work. “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Do you Netflix and chill at the end of a hard day? I can’t count the number of people I meet who say, “I don’t have enough time,” but somehow manage to have 20 minutes for a TV show. “That’s not fair,” they say, “you want me to give up my only down time during the week to do another thing?”
Therein lies the problem. Human brain chemistry has been so warped by the addictive noise we receive through our 5 senses that we dread the thought of giving it up for stimulation in our 6th sense – our spirit. Consider:
- Touch/physical stimulation: working out, sex, “self-gratification,” massages, chiropractors, back scratching, long baths/showers, drugs
- Taste: food, wine, pop/soda, beer, candy, ice cream, drugs
- Smell: candles, cooking, camp fires, nature, perfume, cologne, body odor, deodorant
- Hear: music, nature sounds, interpersonal conversations, OD-ing on sermons, books on tape, radio advertisements, white noise
- See: porn, Netflix/Hulu, movies, billboards posters, video games
Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)
It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord … Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him. (Lamentations 3:25-28)
It’s easier said than done, but if you can learn to weed out the noise in life that fills your 5 senses, you will find your greatest rest in basking in what God has to stimulate your 6th sense – not the intellectual curiosity of what the Bible has to teach you, but the Spirit-filled peace that comes from letting your spirit rest.
Intellectual comprehension of Scripture is a good thing, but it is often the greatest enemy of our spiritual ability to escalate in our relationship with God, rest in His strength, and re-center our focus through meditating on His Word.
Similarly, if we employ quiet times with God in response to His initiation, which is ever present, I have found in my own life that my wife tends to follow my lead and is more responsive to my initiation, to resting in my strength, and to re-centering her focus away from the noise toward the focused path I am laying out for our family. Your wife is a reflection of you. Be the bride of Christ the way you want her to be the bride of you.