Stuff Christian Culture Likes

Stuff Christian Culture Likes


#180 Quiet times

posted by Stephanie Drury

quiettime4.jpg

The quiet time is a hallowed institution in Christian culture. It is also known as spending time in the Word. The phrases “quiet time” and “in the Word” are interchangeable and are exclusive to Christian culture.

quiettimedude.jpgChristian culture has lots of handy hints on exactly how to have a quiet time. There are books and websites that tell you how long a quiet time should be (industry standard: 15 minutes on average), when it should be (first thing in the morning is ideal) and what kind of attitude you should have (a good one).

qt5.jpg
2quiettimecollage.jpgThe Psalmists didn’t always follow this prescription and in half the Psalms they’re angry and railing on about wanting death and destruction for their enemies. To Christian culture, this isn’t a very good attitude. But God must have liked these honest prayers enough to make the Psalms the prayer book of Israel.

qtacts2.jpgChristian culture also has a handy acronym to assist you in your quiet time: ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication). To them it’s an ideal order in which to pray. Interestingly enough, the prayer Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount put supplication (give us this day…) before confession (forgive us our debts), and omitted thanksgiving entirely. Work that one out.



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Lee

posted August 13, 2010 at 9:47 pm


Stephanie said:
“The Psalmist didn’t always follow this prescription and in half the Psalms he’s angry and railing on about wanting death and destruction for his enemies. To Christian culture, this isn’t a a very good attitude.”
LOL. Dear me, you wouldn’t be suggesting that Christian Culture picks and chooses out of the Bible, would you?
Funny, I once tried the prescribed quiet time sequence in the morning, but I found myself too grouchy/sleepy and eventually resentful of the whole practice (I’m sure the Lord was really impressed!). I figured I should just stop as the Lord knows when I’m faking it/lying, so I’ve just decided to be very real with Him. No sense hiding.
Off for some quiet time with my dogs and my books. The world is my church and my life is it’s practice.



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Mayrock

posted August 13, 2010 at 9:58 pm


Like the psalmist, on some of my more black-assed days, I couldn’t muster thanksgiving if I tried. Some days I simply don’t know how to even pray. I just need to sit and think (or not think) and let my morning coffee and the Spirit do all the work of translation.



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Tucker

posted August 14, 2010 at 9:17 am


The book should be called – “Quiet Times for Couples: So the Kids Won’t Hear”



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Still Breathing

posted August 14, 2010 at 12:03 pm


I have a daily noisy time – I read the Bible while having my daily session on a nebuliser. Oddly it was reading the Bible that made me realise that a lot of what passes for Christian Culture has nothing to do with Christianity – I must blog about that sometime.
Tucker, You beat me to it but you must admit it wasn’t a very successful follow up to “Noisy Times For Couples: Who Cares What The Neighbours Think.”



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Lynn

posted August 14, 2010 at 12:15 pm


I’ve been waiting for “quiet time” to make the blog! When I went to Bible college as an undergrad, (not knowing what I was getting into, as a Lutheran from a small town)this was the first unfamiliar terminology I ran into. My roommate talked about “quiet time” all the time and I was never quite sure what she was referring to. By the context, I figured out it had something to do with the Bible or prayer, but I didn’t understand why they couldn’t call it something more direct. Why must it be disguised in some vague terminology that sounds like something a 4-year-old should be punished with?



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Patricia

posted August 14, 2010 at 1:26 pm


Nothing makes the Bible more boring to me than a quiet time. It makes me feel like it’s a required reading for school or something, which automatically makes me not want to read it. I also don’t like feeling that I have to pencil God in to my busy schedule. I prefer spontaneous recognition of him in my daily life, rather than shoving my perception of him into a Bible passage that means nothing to me at the moment I read it. I feel like I’m being graded or something.
When I tried quiet times, they went something like this: Prayer: Dear God, thank you for *space out* oh yeah, Dear God, thanks *space out* Dear God, show me something meaningful in this passage I’m about to read. Sorry I keep spacing out. Amen. Scripture: hmm, what to read. Acts 2: “When the day of Pentecost came…” hmm, Pentecost. Pentecostal. I know some Pentecostals. I’ve never been to a church like that. I wonder what its like. Oh yeah, Acts 2. “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.” Scan the chapter. Feel overwhelmed, flip to Proverbs. Feel overwhelmed. Give up. Phone rings. Forget quiet time till hours later.
Christian points: 0



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Darryls

posted August 14, 2010 at 3:01 pm


In a yeshiva, you always read the text with a partner — getting “in the Word” is never a solitary activity.



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Spinning

posted August 14, 2010 at 3:06 pm


Stephy – brilliant!
Confession: I spent many years feeling horrible and guilty because it seemed like no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get the hang of the whole “quiet time” thing. Having heard one too many sermons on how this was supposed to be the lifeblood of real Christianity, I more or less figured that I was a failure. Never could concentrate (space out, space out, space out, fall asleep, repeat) for more than 5 – at the most, 10 – minutes.
Somehow I ended up feeling as if *all* the “required disciplines” (cf. the way the words “disciple” and “discipline” were linked in many 80s CC books) were out of my reach. This was especially painful when hearing other people talk about how they had wonderful “prayer times,” how God “really spoke to them” today (or last Monday, or whenever).
It all left me feeling like a second-class (at very best) citizen in the kingdom of God.
How refreshing it is to see you write about it in this way – even better, how lovely it’s been to *not* be tied to daily “prayer times.” I gave up on them 5 years ago – or at least, gave up on the stupid “You must do this or you will fail at Christian 101″ thing that I’d been trying to do.
I think I needed (still need) a permanent vacation from the tyranny of these “essential” CC practices.
Maybe someday I’ll go back to having a regular “quiet time,” but if so, it will be because I choose to do it, not because I have to (or else!)



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Steve

posted August 14, 2010 at 3:22 pm


Ah, yes, I remember “quiet time” from my Inter-Varsity days, and “ACTS” from other devotional books. Not a bad practice. I do try to read Bible as often as I can, and prayer for me for the last 25 years has been silent meditation, without all the crapola of trying to think up things to say to God via ACTS.
And I just about fell on the floor laughing when I saw that couples quiet time book cover. It looks like in a few minutes they’ll be making whoopie and crying out, “I’m in heaven! O God!” Hardly quiet time!
Captcha: Isby, creips. Probably what that couple is thinking!



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Emma

posted August 15, 2010 at 12:12 am


Patricia’s quiet times sound exactly like mine. Hilarious.



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Valerie

posted August 15, 2010 at 11:27 am


I’m glad I’m not the only one who cannot do ACTS without totally spacing out. Growing up in CC I felt like such a failure, but like Steve, my new form of prayer has come to be silent meditation which to me is a lot more meaningful. And I’ve come to think of prayer not as something that you *do* at certain times, but more like an awareness that God is always present in your mind and that all your thoughts are really present before him. Also, I go to a liturgical church now where the prayers are all read aloud from a book of prayer. A lot of my friends in CC consider it a “dead church” (there’s another post sometime, Stephy) but to me it’s so much more meaningful than trying to think of things to say and spacing out all the time.



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Steve D

posted August 15, 2010 at 12:46 pm


Thanks for the post, Stephy.
I heard a preacher say that if you didn’t keep your appointment with God for a quiet time, He wouldn’t keep His appointments with you. Sometimes my best quiet times are:
When I’m taking a shower
When I’m driving
When I’m doing some mind numbing repetitive thing at work.
The idea of having a literal daily quiet time is healthy. A time when you can be still and take a moment to meditate and talk to God. The idea of a structured time with rules and regulations seems stiff. The Psalms are there because God wanted honesty in our prayer. Not some kind of rote program.



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Aaran

posted August 16, 2010 at 2:14 am


Why is it that when someone tells us to have a laugh every day we understand that to mean take a break from your mundane routine, lighten up our outlook on life and find something to be joyful in. But when someone tells us to pray every day we turn it into a mundane chore? If we understood the command to have a laugh the same way we understand the command to pray we would be a bunch of grouches who once a day said, haha ha ha ha…ohh stuff it.
But I have never read one of those books.



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Billy

posted August 16, 2010 at 12:29 pm


Has praying before a meal made the list yet? Seems like it has. Never understood that one either. Does God like to hear the same scripted dinner prayer 3 times a day, everyday. Sometimes I don’t pray before eating, I just say (or think) “Lord, I’m thankful that I have something to eat.”
I have a hard time with my prayer life anymore. I find it difficult to make my self get down at predetermined times and just blurt stuff out. Most of my prayer times are spontaneous. For instance, in the shower, walking to the car, riding in the car, having my coffee, staring out of the window at home, etc. Quiet times are very popular in the youth groups as well.



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Beth

posted August 16, 2010 at 3:32 pm


Now that I’ve left evangelical Christianity for Anglo-Catholic Christianity, it cracks me up how much effort has gone into the reinventing of the wheel that is the Daily Office…I get far more out of following the BCP’s structure for daily study and prayer than I ever did out of evangelical “quiet times,” both the freeform and the structured, “here are some leading questions that will tell you what you’re supposed to get out of this passage” varieties.



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Entomologista

posted August 16, 2010 at 10:11 pm


That David Dark interview you posted on Facebook is dumb. This guy doesn’t engage in critical thinking so much as he engages in feel-good nonsense.



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TT

posted August 17, 2010 at 1:34 am


I’ve been waiting for this one! This was my Youth Group’s mantra growing up. “So, how’s your quite time or Q.T (quality was implied in this, also, how cute) with Jesus? Getting lots of it? Daily? Reading? Listening to Christian music. Praying. Journaling. Going well? ….Make sure you get your Q.T. with Jesus today!



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TT

posted August 17, 2010 at 1:35 am


Also, I hate when my pastor, whom I adore, suggests the ACTS model. Yeah, because we should have an excel sheet so we know how to pray. Weird, I thought it was a conversation…



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Still Breathing

posted August 17, 2010 at 6:01 am


Steve D and Billy – I think you have hit on what prayer is really about, it is a way of life and not a set time each day (although that can be part of it.)
Beth – My evangelical grandmother used the Book of Common Prayer for her daily devotions. She used to tell me how helpful working throught the Psalms was to her.



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Steve

posted August 17, 2010 at 8:15 am


@ TT, regarding prayer as conversation: For me, prayer is far beyond conversation. It’s simply being with, being attentive to, God, in my times of prayer and meditation, and then at other times of the day as well. Prayer as conversation, to me, is as meaningless as ACTS. I got tired of trying to think up things to say to God, and when I learned about meditation, I was convinced.



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stephanie drury

posted August 17, 2010 at 3:16 pm


Billy, there’s been this on meal prayers, but I think that’s all…
http://blog.beliefnet.com/stuffchristianculturelikes/2008/08/17-saying-bless-this-food-to-the-nourishment-of-our-bodies.html
FWIW, it seems to me the Bible promotes all kinds of things as being prayer, and it seems to say the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings, the stuff we can’t put to words.



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TT

posted August 17, 2010 at 9:20 pm


Steve,
I’m actually quite with you. I was more, inarticulately, pointing to the very words they use from the pulpit. “It’s a conversation… so here’s a formula.” It was late. My thoughts came out in words like an radio bumped to scan.
Actually, as I thought about all of this, I realized how truly differently I view my relationship and time with Jesus now from even… a year ago. I cannot even articulate it. Though meditation (oh, no, we said “meditation!” We’re probably heathen spiritualists)on Him is a great way to say it. Spending time thinking about Him, to Him, etc. Delighting in it. Struggling through it. Hoping to find His heart. Hoping mine is transformed in the process. Submitting myself wholly to Him. I don’t think there is a formula for that sort of “QT” or prayer. Yeah. I think i just repeated everything anyone’s said.
I’m so thankful for this blog! I thought I was alone in believing this all so absurd. In feeling alone, i figured I must be going cookoo bananas, and that they were all correct. RELIEF first came in Donald Miller and now Stephanie Drury. PTL. Oh yeah, i just said “PTL.” (That was a greeeat trend at my college)
Hey, look at that random spew. Radio scan, again.



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Chrissy

posted August 18, 2010 at 3:26 pm


Quiet times were so stressful. Remember how easy it was to base your whole emotional state on how well your quiet time went? I remember having “awesome” quiet times (which simply means long, or ones I actually paid attention to), and an hour later, if I had a mood swing or felt sad I’d think “Lord, What happened? I was doing so well today…” Once I relieved myself from the burden of the quiet time I was finally (eventually) able to pick up the Bible without expectations. I could just read it whenever I felt like it, with no emotional striving. I enjoy the Bible much more these days, but I still cannot answer their question “Are you in the word?” the way they’d like me to. Their formula tells me I’m “in the word” if I’m committed to reading daily; the more the better. Anything less is dangerous to my spiritual life. However, seeing that I’m saved by grace through faith in Christ who is the mediator between God and man, I have no doubt that God (the Word) lives in me. He can’t leave. So, yes. I’m in the Word and the Word is in me. But if they ask me what book I’m in right now, I’m kinda screwed :/



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Eli

posted August 19, 2010 at 1:15 pm


Hm. Yeah. The striving to be good enough even in prayer time was definitely a struggle of mine. Mostly due in the beginning to misinformation as to what prayer is. Currently realizing the more important aspect is when I’m mentally freaking out, before I call a friend, to yell (even on paper) to God first. Even when it seems that He doesn’t show. Because if I don’t, there is something missing that I keep wanting and the wanting just grows deeper and more empty.



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TT

posted August 21, 2010 at 2:15 pm


Chrissy,
Your last two sentences are so well spoken!



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Doug (WearyPilgrim)

posted September 11, 2010 at 10:01 pm


I live alone.
It’s already quiet, nine-tenths of the time.
I also have ADD, so my mind is never quiet.
The whole idea of a “quiet time” thus eludes me. I’ve tried. It doesn’t work. I can identify with Chrissy: Better for me to pick up a Bible whenever I feel like it. Even then, sometimes it’s a struggle.
I’m so tired of Christians who have a one-size-fits-all approach to everything.



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jaigner

posted September 18, 2010 at 5:50 pm


Maybe I shouldn’t mention it, but the couple on the cover of the quiet time book looks like they’re about to have a different sort of quiet time.



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Jubbacca

posted February 10, 2011 at 1:37 pm


This is an old conversation but I’m just now reading through the archives so I’m going to rant about it anyway.
I’m a Hicksite Quaker (ie, the religious Left -gasp!). At my Meeting for Worship (Quaker-speak for “church”) we have un-programmed worship. This means we sit silently for an hour unless someone feels moved to speak. The whole point of silent worship is that the focus is on God and not some silly syllabus of things you’re supposed to pray about before you get up and go again. I mean, heck, what if theres something you want to pray about that’s not on the list?
You’re not going to have some major life revelation every time you sit down to worship. And you certainly aren’t expected to maintain perfect focus for the entire hour. There is no litmus test for what makes a good worship session. We just sit and wait and listen for God. If theres something important he wants to tell us, he’ll get around to it in his own good time. Expecting that we can make him work faster if we follow some ritual would just be big-headed on our part.



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