Menu & Search

Chronicling “quiet time”

A few weeks ago, I did a Q+R on Instagram and someone asked me “What does your own time with Jesus look like in the midst of seminary and academic study?” I didn’t answer it then, partially because the question came in toward the end of the day and my reserve for social media was depleted. But I also waited because my answer went something like, “I am going low and slow in my personal time but that’s not because academics hinder my life with God. I hate to set up a binary between those two like you can either study theology or you can love God. Also my ‘time with God’ (as if my whole day isn’t time with God) changes fairly often and I think it’s good to note that.” My answer grew longer and more rambling, full of disclaimers and interjections where I added one more thought. That’s when I decided that it was too much to answer in a story slide and made some notes on my phone instead. 

A tool for self-reflection

As much as I think my whole day is time with God, I know that I need time when I intentionally remember who God is and what He is doing, when I commit to learning His story (again, more fully) because that’s the only way I can counter the stories of the world, when I surrender again to Jesus as King. I hate the term “quiet time” but we are going to use it because we all have a general idea of what it means. I want this to be a recurring post because my own patterns and habits shift and change regularly and I don’t want to pretend there is one way to meet with God. I think that chronicling what my “quiet time” looks like every couple of months for a year (or longer) will be helpful for both of us. It will be a wonderful tool for self-reflection for me but I also hope it will help you pay attention to your own habits. There’s a tendency to hand out quiet time routines like a prescription or a formula. We want to believe there’s “one right way” to do it because that’s simple for our brains. That’s not what walking with the Spirit is like. So when you read this, don’t you dare walk away thinking, “well, that’s exactly what I need to do.” It’s not! I won’t even be doing it in three months. Hopefully these reflections spark ideas for your own life. 

What counts

I am a person of routine so my life reflects that; I love my quiet morning time in my office chair before everyone else is up. This might not be you. This was not me when I had small babies. You might read the Bible one morning with your kids or your roommate over breakfast and then listen to it while you’re driving to work the next day and then talk through a passage with a friend the next day. It helps me to remember that God’s people have not always have a written copy of Scripture. I love that we do, but I never want to make that the center of what it means to follow Jesus. There are followers of Jesus around the world who are neither literate nor possess a copy of the Bible. I think this is partly why the Bible is mostly narrative and why even what we consider more of a sermon was still a letter that reflected on the issues of their lives and culture. It was a response to their own writing. Reading massive portions of Scripture is not the extent of our spiritual lives. 

A focus that’s not reading

I love to read. Honestly, reading the Bible is easy for me. I’ve shifted more and more of my quiet time to major on disciplines that are harder for me and that I need to practice. Currently, prayer is my focus instead of reading, though I do read, because prayer is harder for me. My lack of prayer reveals my own arrogance. If I don’t need to talk to God about it, I probably think, deep down, that I can handle it myself or figure it out on my own. Acknowledging my need for prayer doesn’t make prayer easy though. Prayer is unnatural in many ways. I don’t know how to pray well and it’s not just me. Jesus’ disciples showed up, asking Jesus to teach them to pray. Prayer was a signature of Jesus’ life and ministry and they knew they needed that connection with God too. So I do. So do you.

 A few smarter and more mature believers are always talking about the psalms being “grammar for prayer” and I’ve been reading and praying through the psalms for a while now. It’s slow and it doesn’t show up immediately but it is reshaping how I pray. I also pray through the Lord’s Prayer most days. I have a weekly prayer list and I try to pray through what is supposed to happen that day and all the things I’ll be surprised by. I’ve been practicing confession in my prayer time as well. (Heads up: I’m talking about confession in this weekend’s newsletter if you want more on that.)

How I am reading

Because I am reading so much material for seminary, I am doing slow, lingering reads of Scripture right now. I just finished reading 1 and 2 Samuel a chapter at a time and I’m in 1 Timothy right now. No metrics for how much to read, just asking myself and God questions as I go and then starting back over. 

Devotional and academic life

I don’t think my academic study is at odds with my time in Scripture. It feeds it. I appreciate the Bible more because of what I’ve studied. I’m more challenged in what I assume as I read it. I’ve started developing new habits of reading. Instead of looking for application, I’ve been trying to first understand the story of Scripture and what it says about God. I do think the Bible reshapes how we live; I don’t think it does that from a list of rules. I think it reshapes how we live because we learn who God is and we slowly learn to reflect that. As we know God more, we are transformed. It’s a completely different way of viewing the Bible in my experience. We find our place and our purpose in the story of what God is doing in the world. It’s longer and slower than looking for a command to follow when we read, but it digs a lot deeper in our hearts.


I learn the most grappling with a passage with a couple of friends. Scripture was intended to be read aloud in a group and not read alone in your room. Don’t get me wrong. I read it alone in my room and I hope you do too, but that’s not its design and you rob yourself of a lot if that’s all you do. Of course, it is also more comfortable because you are never challenged and that’s why we like it so well. At least find a friend and discuss what you are reading and the parts that raise questions. Don’t even pretend you are reading without questions.


Sometimes I play music. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I feel focused and in tune with God and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes it feels like nothing is happening, but time reveals that something is happening. God’s Spirit is always at work, in us, in our communities, through the power of the Word. I think it’s easy to discount that, depending on what kind of church you grew up in. While we participate, God is working. It’s a partnership. I’d love to hear how your own devotional life has shifted if you want to share.

Also, if you are interested in learning more about spiritual disciplines and walking with God all day (not just during quiet time), I’d highly recommend The Deeply Formed Life by Rich Villodas and Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. I’ve read both with women that I’m discipling and I’ll come back to them over and over. 

Type your search keyword, and press enter to search