This article is part of the 5 Myths series.
Myth #1: God commands us to have quiet time.
This might sound surprising (even scandalous!), but there is no command in the Bible about having a daily quiet time. Think about it:
There are commands about loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). There are commands to keep in step with the Spirit, who teaches us the truth about the gospel through Scripture (Gal. 5:1–26). And there are commands to hold fast to the Word of life, to not be deceived by false teaching, and to hold our original confidence firm to the very end (Phil. 2:16; 1 Tim. 4:6–16; Heb. 3:14).
But is there any command like “you shall arise at five in the morning, coffee in hand, and spend time with the Lord alone for two hours”? No. And if we are honest, this is usually what we think about when we feel badly about not reading the Bible. God isn’t prescriptive about this in his Word. Instead, he commands proper priorities for the growth of our souls in him: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and [everything else you need] will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). He wants us to hunger for the bread of life, not for an idealistic formula. He wants us to pursue the Word, not a perfect quiet time—as if there were such a thing.
Myth #2: Quiet time must be . . . quiet.
This simply isn’t theological: God wants to speak to us when we meet with him—and his voice most certainly isn’t quiet (Ps. 29:4)! As we draw near to God through Scripture, we are hearing his voice loud and clear and then meditating on his words. We aren’t aiming to “empty our minds” with listening and meditation, but to fill our minds with the mind of Christ.
Total and complete quiet is also rarely achievable for the average person. Many of us have children to care for, jobs to work (and coworkers around us), and other noisy environments in which we engage with God’s Word. Of course, silence is ideal and helpful for concentration, but it isn’t required. God wants us to come to his Word however and whenever we can—even if it means with chattering kids in the background (Deut. 6:5–7).
Myth #3: There is one right way to do “quiet time.”
My senior pastor once said something to the effect of, “There is no one ‘right’ way to meet with the Lord in Scripture. And if you find yourself getting bored with your routine, then switch it up.” This was the wisdom and permission I needed to do something different. My pastor is a godly, older believer who has walked many decades with Jesus—and spent many of his working hours in the Word—and here he was advocating for creativity, not a one-size-fits-all approach to the idea of “quiet time.”
If you are bored with your Bible and you don’t know why; if you are tired from following the same reading plan (like I have been) and you’re wondering how to be hungry again for the Word; if you feel discouraged from the pace of schedule, the needs of people, the call of distractions, and the overwhelm of possibilities; or if you are having trouble climbing out from the guilt hole of “supposed-to’s,” then hear this wonderful, freeing news: there isn’t one “right” way to do quiet time.
As we draw near to God through Scripture, we are hearing his voice loud and clear and then meditating on his words.
The possibilities for enjoying Jesus in his Word are numerous: follow a reading plan, read alongside a friend, listen to an audio Bible while you drive or exercise, read the Word with your kids and talk about it, post Scripture around your house or office, worship God through Word-centered music. The point is that we walk closely with God (John 15:4)!
Myth #4: Quiet time is our main source of spiritual nourishment.
Who is the Bible written to? Overarchingly, the gathered people of God. This isn’t to say that we as individuals can’t or shouldn’t read it—far from it! But our main source of spiritual nourishment is feasting on God’s Word alongside his gathered people—the church. This is who the Bible is primarily written for.
Because we live in an individualistic society, we have connected Bible reading with solo reading. And reading God’s Word by ourselves is an excellent pursuit! But it’s not an exhaustive pursuit. We need the full, well-rounded “meal” of God’s Word being preached, prayed, read, and sung at church. We need to feast with our brothers and sisters, not simply “snack” or eat on our own. The church is the body of Christ (Rom. 12:5)—and his body needs this nourishment to grow and thrive.
Myth #5: Our quiet time is a failure if there’s no obvious takeaway.
God’s work in our hearts is often a hidden, slow work—like a seed growing (Matt. 13:8). But he is working through his Word, by his Spirit, even when we can’t see an immediate outcome. Sometimes we will read our Bibles and come away with a clear application. Other times we will simply need to trust that God is sowing his Word into our hearts and giving growth even when we can’t pinpoint how he is doing this.
Many of us get discouraged when it feels like our quiet times aren’t doing anything. But these moments are not failures; they are opportunities for faith. We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7); yet God, in his kindness, has given us something we can see with our two eyes: his words, on paper pages, printed with ink. What a marvelous gift of grace!
Kristen Wetherell is the author of Help for the Hungry Soul: Eight Encouragements to Grow Your Appetite for God's Word.
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