4 Questions to Ask Yourself about Your Quiet Time in the New Year

 
Tim Thornborough | December 29th 2020

Devotions. Quiet Time. Time with God.

We have different names for it, but they all relate to the same practice: spending time just you and the Lord your God.  

But as with any spiritual discipline, this practice can become jaded and lose its way. At every turn in the Christian life, we can choose a wrong path: the one labelled “law” rather than “grace”; the road of indifference rather than the avenue of zeal; the direction of grim duty as opposed to the route to joyful service. 

Daily devotions are no exception. They can become exercises in dry theological rumination. They can become just a search for a heart-warming thought. Or they can become mechanistic exercises in finding something to do alone. And the resources we choose to help us can default to one of these routes.

Our Bible times can become the echo chamber of our own preferences and predilections. And when we allow ourselves to slip into this way of thinking, we may discover that our devotions are not leading to devotion to Jesus.

I want to suggest that any serious engagement with God needs to engage three aspects of who we are as people — we are redeemed sinners seeking to serve our Lord and Saviour as we journey to the new creation in each others’ company. 

1. Is Your Head Engaged?

The gospel comes to us as a proposition about Jesus Christ — that he is Lord of all, and that only as we place ourselves under his Kingship do we escape the coming wrath of God. Scripture is all about God’s plan for the world, which is all about Jesus. “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). We understand more about God, his purposes, our lives and the way to live as we think about how God has revealed himself to us in the Scriptures. A quiet time can never be anything less than an exercise of the mind. But it cannot stop there.

2. Is Your Heart Affected?

The gospel message is meant to move us. When the Bible talks about our hearts, it does not mean simply emotion — although responding to Scripture can and should involve our emotions. “Heart” in the Bible principally means our affections: what we love and hate; the things we feel compelled to do; the direction of our will. Understanding in our heads about God, his love for us, and all that Christ is and has done for us should affect us, and shape our deepest feelings and priorities. But it can never stop there.

3. Are Your Hands Stirred to Action?

Having our heads engaged and our hearts affected is a vital starting point, but it would be sad if that didn't translate into a change in how we live. Paul’s letters are often constructed around two halves. In the first half, he explains the gospel message — he reveals God and his purposes, and shows how this should warm, challenge, and stir our hearts. But the second half is always about how this should be played out in practice. Quiet times should get concrete. Devotion is measured not by what you know and feel but how that plays out into a changed life.

4. Are You Sharing with Others?

There’s one further aspect of devotion that is important to underline. We rarely walk alone with Christ. Instead, God has blessed us with a community — our church family. And while a daily time of Bible reflection is important for you personally, it should never stay just with you, but be talked about, discussed, applied, and lived out within the Christian community.

So here’s a decent New Year’s resolution to make — not just to renew your commitment to daily devotions, but to make true devotion the aim of that short time — so that your head, heart, and hands are moved along with others.

Tim Thornborough is the managing editor of Explore daily Bible-reading notes. He seeks to develop them so that they address head, heart and hands — and apply them communally as well as personally. The Explore Facebook group is a great place to connect with others to ask questions, to share prayer requests, and to walk with others in devotion to Christ.

Tim Thornborough

Tim Thornborough is the founder and Publishing Director of The Good Book Company. He is series editor of Explore Bible-reading notes, and has contributed to many books published by the Good Book Company and others. He is married to Kathy and has three adult daughters.

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