“Help! My Quiet Time (QT) is a Drudgery…”
“I’m not reading the Bible enough… My prayer life has also taken a hit. I only say the Lord’s Prayer every day and it feels like it is not enough. I need to do more…My QT is in shambles. It all feels like drudgery…” shared an old friend of mine recently regarding the cauldron that is their faith journey.
On one hand, I’m glad it was a text because I had time to internalize her sentiments. On the other hand, I knew I had to respond sooner rather than later since QT is an essential need for a Christian. Seeking to understand the situation at hand fully, a conversation on QT ensued…
Possible reasons for the drudgery
1. “I’m not reading the Bible Enough …”
From this statement, it was safe to assume that my friend was reading the Bible. The problem was that she was inundated with a sea of standards that are unabating and frustratingly unmet.
Oft times, we set our own standards for our QT which involves reading a number of Bible chapters a day. Meeting this quota leaves us feeling achieved and satisfied. However, failure to do so leaves us feeling frustrated, defeated, and hopeless.
Looking to unearth what ‘enough’ reading looks like, I asked her to tell me in great detail what ‘enough’ is, if she has ever achieved it, and what/who informed this ideology.
From our conversation, I concluded three things as being the cause of her internal upheaval, which cuts across most Christians:
- Our standards are derived and informed from habits we see in others,
- They are set by employing a Bible reading plan as a challenge to finish reading the Bible within a given timeline, and
- When our Bible reading is in shambles, it inadvertently affects our prayer life.
Whereas Bible reading plans are encouraged and commendable, the hidden underlying issue is Bible reading can become like gravel in the mouth: an arduous distasteful task to be dutifully completed and not a delightful habit.
What does your Bible reading feel like? Is it a burden or a joyful task that you look forward to?
2. “I only say the Lord’s Prayer …”
For some of us, ‘just’ saying the Lord’s prayer never feels like it’s enough. It doesn’t feel sufficient. “Give us this day our daily bread” doesn’t quite seem to capture the plethora of our needs. If anything, it appears to ignore the ever-growing complexity and length of our wishlist.
Yet, the Lord’s prayer in its simplicity, brevity, and comprehensiveness captures the full essence of prayer. It starts and ends with a focus on the glory of God: his paternity, greatness, priority, will, purpose, provision, pardon, and protection.
Yes, it doesn’t get around to asking for the bounty of riches. Instead, it asks for enough bread to give life and nourishment. After all, God promises to not just meet our daily needs but to be what we daily need.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Our QT need not be fuelled by the desire for ritual performance and/or meeting the ‘required amount.’
I once read an analogy attempting to explain the correct posture regarding Bible reading and prayer. “Imagine a man walking through the desert and in desperate need of water. When he finally finds a river, he experiences overwhelming delight. Kneeling at the river bank to drink, he is not asking himself, “What is the least amount I can drink and still satisfy the thirst I have?” No, he asks, “How much of this water can I possibly get into me?!” Like thirsty travelers, we don’t come to God’s word as a chore but eagerly, as nourishment for our hearts.
My prayer for us who share in this same struggle is that our mindset, rather than it being one of meeting a required amount, will be one that seeks to answer: how much of the Bible can I possibly get into my heart and mind. After all, the Bible contains words of life (John 6:68)—and, how can my life be of constant worship through prayer?
In the end, the reason we engage in QT is to get more of God’s word into us while glorifying and worshipping him. As we delight in these tasks, they inadvertently lead in us delighting in God himself. The goal is not to check off the time as a duty fulfilled, but to treasure Jesus more through our QT.
So, what do you do after all is said and done yet QT incessantly still feels like drudgery? Look out for Part 2!