Nothing, I say nothing is more vital to your spiritual growth than the time you spend alone with God in Scripture and prayer. However, nothing is neglected or opposed more by Satan than our quiet time with God. Here are some of the obstacles you can expect and some solutions to them.
THE PROBLEM OF DISCIPLINE
Your first problem in establishing a quiet time will face you the moment you wake each morning: Am I going to get out of bed? (“The Battle of the Blankets”) Am I going to get out of bed a little earlier and spend the time with God or just lay here for a little longer? The devil will always exaggerate how tired you are. And when the devil and your flesh come together you have a potent combination to keep you from your quiet time. You need to have first DESIRE, “I want to meet with God.” Then DECISION, “I’m going to meet with God.” Then DETERMINATION/DISCIPLINE to get out of bed.
1. Go to bed on time. A rule to follow: if what I am doing at 10:00 the night before is more important than my quiet time then stay up.
2. Get up immediately. The battle is usually won or lost in the first few seconds. Hesitate and you will be defeated.
3. Be aware of quiet time robbers. 90% of them happen the night before. They are named Jay or David. Late night TV is the #1 robber of quiet time.
THE PROBLEM OF DISTRACTIONS
Satan will try to use anything to get your mind to wander during a quiet time. Never try to have a quiet time in bed. An hour later you will wake up with your Bible on your chest and think, “Oh, how spiritual.”
1. Get out of bed.
2. Get thoroughly awake. Get coffee, run around the room, give yourself the Aqua Velva slap.
3. Read and pray out loud. If you need to for concentration.
4. Walk during your prayer time. You never fall asleep walking. It even has a double benefit, builds soul and body at the same time. I love to walk and pray.
5. Keep a notepad nearby. The devil may try to bring up all kinds of things that you don’t need to forget. Stop where you are and write it down. “Don’t forget to pick up the kids at school. Don’t forget you left the eggs boiling on the stove.” Better go take care of that one.
THE PROBLEM OF DRYNESS
Sometimes you will feel like you’re not getting anything out of your quiet time. (“The Battle of the Blahs”) Never judge your quiet time by your feelings. Emotions come and go. You may have just had a bad pizza the night before. If I only have a quiet time when I feel like it the devil will make sure I never feel like it. In fact, when I don’t feel like it that is when I need it the most. Right feelings follow right actions. Do the right thing consistently and the feelings will follow, not VV.
Possible Causes of Spiritual Dryness:
1. Your physical condition. You are not rested. Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is go to bed.
2. Disobedience to God. There may be habitual sin in your life and God is not going to show you something new until you have acted on what he has already shown you.
3. Rushing your quiet time. Samuel Chadwick, “Hurry is the death of prayer.”
4. Getting in a rut. Doing the same thing in the same way every time. When your quiet time gets in a rut you will lose your desire for it. Vary it. Change locations. Read a different place in the Bible besides the reading schedule. Change it up, you don’t have to stick to the SOAP formula every time. This is just a guide. It is to help you get started. Change it up.
5. Not sharing insights with others. If you don’t give out what God has given you, you will dry up. Like the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. One receives and gives out, the other receives and keeps. For me I begin by posting a scripture from the day on facebook so I can share with others what has spoken to me.
THE PROBLEM OF DILIGENCE
Your greatest problem will be your struggle to stay consistent. I find Satan fights nothing harder than my quiet time. I have been a Christian for 48 years and a pastor for 41 and it is still true. Satan doesn’t fight me on anything else as much as my consistent daily time with God. Because he knows that’s where the power is.
1. Make a covenant or vow to God. That you are going to give this the priority of your daily schedule.
2. Schedule it on your daily calendar. On your “to do” list write “quiet time.”
3. Be prepared for Satan’s excuses. He knows if he can keep you out of the Word then he has you defeated and not developing or dropping your quiet time is usually one of the first steps into backsliding. So he is going to give you all kinds of excuses.
By the way, if you get up in the morning and you don’t meet the devil head on it very well might mean that the two of you are traveling in the same direction. Expect it. Realize as soon as your feet hit the floor, or before, the devil is scheming to keep you out of the Word and away from God.
WHAT IF I MISS A DAY?
Don’t get on a guilt trip. Don’t keep putting yourself down.
Don’t get legalistic. “On no, I missed my quiet time. My entire world is going to fall apart.” We live by grace. Confess it and go on living.
Most of all, don’t give up. How many of you have ever missed a meal? What did you do? “I can’t be consistent. I’m just not going to eat anymore.” No! But with our quiet time we are inclined to say, “If I can’t be consistent I’m just not going to try and do it.” If you miss you just pick up with the corresponding day’s reading and catch up what you missed at the end. Don’t be blown away by missing a quiet time.
It takes three weeks for you to become familiar with a new task. Then it takes another three weeks before it becomes a comfortable habit. Most people have never made it past the six week barrier of having a quiet time and so no wonder they aren’t consistent and as a result have never come to know the beauty and value of daily time alone with God.
Don’t give up! If you do the Devil gets the victory.
(Adapted from Purpose Driven material.)