Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare,” God promises the Israelites and us in Isaiah 55:2. But junk food for the soul distracts us from his voice, doesn’t it? Television, romance novels, and the relentless patter on social media taste good for a moment, but leave us restless and unsatisfied.
When I first met Jenny, I was puzzled. While I was a churning mess of emotions much of the time, she seemed to radiate peace and confidence in God, even in the midst of devastating circumstances. While I was often irritated and hassled, Jenny seldom failed to be gracious. Her secret soon became clear. Every day, while most of the world was still snoozing, Jenny awoke, bundled herself in a blanket, and with Bible and notebook in hand, stepped outside onto her back deck to rendezvous with God. There, with only bird chirps and a soft breeze for company, Jenny would read her Bible and then listen.
Later she shared with me what she’d heard in her devotional time. God seemed to lavish his wisdom, comfort, and gentle conviction into my friend’s attentive heart.
On the other hand, my “quiet time”with God involved sporadic demands flung heavenward when I was unhappy or afraid, and I rarely felt better for the effort. I ignored God in favor of sleep, entertainment, and unproductive busyness. But deep inside, I was hungry for something better.
So are you, though you may not realize it.
We all need richer fare than the empty calories this world can offer. The wise among us know—spiritual health begins with holy habits. As the psalmist urges, “Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his presence continually. Remember the wonderful works he has done…”(Psalm 105:5).
Seek. Continually. Remember.
Over and over in the Old Testament the command is given—remember. God knows how our memories work. Whatever thoughts and experiences have been stored in the brain will bear fruit in the moment of pressure. Ask a brilliant pianist, accomplished artist, or Olympic gold-medal winner how mastery was achieved. They will probably reply, “…daily habits, a singular focus, and a goal worth pursuing.”
When I first started doing devotionals, the first few days of my new regimen were the hardest. I am not by nature an early riser, and like a person giving up sugar, I found myself craving sleep, or digital distraction. But morning is when my brain is sharpest, and my house is most quiet—I was offering God my best. By the end of the week, I looked forward to my spiritual breakfast. I was savoring nourishment nothing else can rival, and my perspective began to change. Fretting gave way to trust, chronic irritation replaced with new patience, and peace sent its potent fragrance into the rest of my day.
Do you want to draw closer to God? Here are 10 ideas to strengthen your devotional quiet time with him:
- List the leisure activities that tend to turn your thoughts away from God. Throw them out of your “pantry.”
- Choose a time of day that works well for you. Not everyone can carve out time in the early morning. Ask God to help you make the time and space.
- Start simple. You will become discouraged if you try to tackle too much at once—lots of Bible verses or an endless prayer list. Small bites, chewed well will bring you back for seconds.
- Associate your daily quiet time with something you already enjoy—a warm fire, your favorite chair, a quiet corner of your favorite coffee shop, or a shady spot outside.
- Think relationship, rather than task. Remember, you are not achieving an intellectual goal, but spending quality time with the God who made you, loves you, and knows you like no one else ever will.
- Purchase a Bible that suits you—a translation, size, binding, even color you will be drawn to open again and again.
- Use a daily devotional book, daily reading schedule, or study that leads you into the Bible, rather than distracting you from it. Trochia’s Narrow Way daily devotionals are a great resource.
- Practice being still and listening to what God says.
- Spend time outside, in nature. God speaks to us through his creation (Psalm 19:1-4). Often, a distant mountain, a sunset’s quiet grandeur, or the sight of tree limbs lifted to the sky can break through our defenses as no words can.
- Share with others the encouragement and insight you receive.
My 91-year-old father told me recently he spends the first moments of the morning and last moments of evening to “dust off the memories”of his life. At the beginning and end of every day, he has developed the healthy habit of remembering the goodness of his God, instead of worrying and fretting.
What about you? Listen, eat, and delight, the Prophet Isaiah reminds us. The meal is served; will you join him and give him your “quiet time”today?
Read an earlier post by Janet here.