Jill not only rushed through her quiet time, she diced it and sliced it, as well, folding it into her getting-ready routine that morning, so she wouldn't be late to work. She'd hid the snooze button one too many times and was afraid she'd get in trouble if she kept sneaking in past the time she was supposed to be there. So she said a quick prayer during her shower, read a one-minute devotion while she munched on toast & then, dashed off to work, realizing that she could neither remember what she'd prayed about, nor what she'd read in the book. Was there a Bible verse? She wasn't sure.
I would lose track long before counting the number of times I have experienced the rush to work that Jill did.
Just to give you an example, when I worked outside the home, I often ate my toast in the car. While trying to apply makeup.
But if our primary faith responsibility is to nurture a deep, loving, strong and tender connection with God - and I believe it is - how can we do that if we rush past him the way Jill did?
Is There Enough Room for God?
When I first became a Christian, I remember being told to spend a lot of time reading the Bible. In fact, I was advised to read the Bible from cover to cover, and to call my friend if I had any questions.
No one told me what to do with God. Or how to build a relationship with him.
I remember a pastor telling me once that he knew how to preach a really good sermon, and would get an A+ if he were ever graded, but he wouldn't ever want to be tested on the quality of his relationship with God.
But surely, that is the only thing that matters? I think we've got it backwards if we spend time memorizing things about God, but don't spend quality time with him.
So how do we remedy that, so that we can nurture a deeper connection with him? Keep reading...
It isn't as if, in journeying forward, we move into a deeper presence of God, for the presence of God is already infinitely deep. Rather, by moving forward we become ever more deeply aware of the presence of God in our lives. - James Finley, author of Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God
The Slow Faith Quiet Time
As women of faith, our goal is to walk with Jesus, learning from him, growing ever closer to him, and being guided by him to create the lives he made us to create. And our quiet times will serve us best if they deepen our connection to him, so that we grow in our ability to hear his voice and be guided by him, so that we deepen our awareness of his presence, and that connection in all of the moments of our lives, and so that we shift into becoming who he made us to be.
But if our quiet times are more with him than about him, and are often rushed or incomplete, none of that can happen. We need more of God's presence and more of our relationship with him, and I believe that a contemplative, slow faith quiet time can mold and shape our quiet time experience in just those ways.
Slow faith is faith that is nurtured over time, and focused more on Mary's tendency to sit near Jesus and soak up his wisdom, than on Martha's tendency to run around the house getting things done for him.
Since Jesus was talking, Mary was listening. And spending time in his presence. Building a deep and close friendship with him.
At the center of a slow faith quiet time is time in God's company.
It's a contemplative experience, getting to know God, and dwelling in his presence. Listening for his guidance and wisdom, and soaking up his presence and love for us.
This way, the trust we build in him grows gradually from the experience of walking closely with him. It's an emotional connection and a relationship that deepens and grows over time.
You trust those who love you not to hurt you, to be on your team, to care about what's important to you, and to help when you need it. And you come to know you can count on them over time, because of your experiences with them.
The same is true in our relationship with God, but since plants don't grow if they aren't nurtured, we have to nurture our faith connection with God.
The slow faith, contemplative quiet time will do that. Here's how to start one, for yourself...
How to Create a Slow Faith Quiet Time
(1) Give yourself an hour (at least, this first time) to hang out with God. Find a quiet place where you know you won't be disturbed.
(2) Do some slow, deep breathing so that you can relax and let go of any stress or tension you may have experienced.
(3) If there are things you already do that will help you relax more deeply, like meditation or yoga poses, do those, too.
(4) If you aren't already becoming aware of God's presence as you sit quietly, pray for that awareness. Pray to feel his love, too. And then just spend some time marinating in his presence and his love.
(5) After that time of just hanging out with God, share your thoughts, ask for guidance, and if there's a specific situation you are concerned about, talk it over. Pour out your heart about it, ask to see it from his perspective, and listen for his thoughts.
(6) One contemplative exercise you can try is to imagine that you and God are watching a scene that tells the story of that problem.
You both gaze at it with love, and you see if your perspective shifts, if the bringing of love and of the moment of connection with God as you think about changes the way you see it or feel about it. If not, you just send it love, and imagine that God's love envelops and transforms it.
(7) Grab your journal and write down your own thoughts, and any insight or guidance you received from God. If he brought a Bible verse or a hymn or praise song to mind, write them down, too, and any thought you have about what they mean to you.
This can be a natural time for reading your Bible, too, or journaling within your Bible.
When you feel complete with this quiet time, bring it to a close, but ask to be aware of God's presence or your connection with him throughout the day or night.
Variations on the Theme: