The Myth of “Quiet Time With God”

Why inspiration is overrated, and what to do when you don’t feel any.

Like any other discipline, reading the Bible requires effort, strategy, and consistency. 

It’s important you know that, because, in an attempt to convince more Christians to read it, pastors and preachers like me have oversold the magical experience of “quiet time with God.”

Unintentionally, we have painted the picture that if you will wake up a little bit earlier, find a quiet place to sit and open the Bible, a light from above will lift you into a heavenly realm. God will speak, your heart will be moved, and your life will be changed before you shower.

To be clear, I have personally experienced times reading the Bible, I would describe as “heavenly”. But most days, my time in the scriptures is just that: time.

Those “ordinary” days are not any less spiritual, they are the bridge that connects the significant spiritual moments in my life. 

I learned an important lesson a long time ago that has helped shape my devotional life: The more I read God’s word, the more I will learn God’s truth, and the more I will hear God’s voice.

A shorter way to say it is: information leads to inspiration.

I don’t get emotional when I think about my wife’s social security number, but I do know it. I also know her birthdate, the kind of hairspray she uses, her favorite restaurant, and all sorts of other random things because we’ve spent the last 18 years together. 

If your only measurement for the effectiveness of your time with God is how inspired you feel, most days will feel like a waste of time, but there’s no such thing as wasted time with God.

In Psalm 119, David described how he approached God’s word,

Psalm 119:10-16
10 I have tried hard to find you—
don’t let me wander from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
12 I praise you, O Lord;
teach me your decrees.
13 I have recited aloud
all the regulations you have given us.
14 I have rejoiced in your laws
as much as in riches.
15 I will study your commandments
and reflect on your ways.
16 I will delight in your decrees
and not forget your word.

This is just one description of David’s time with God. Other times were more emotional, or worshipful, but in this instance, he described how he “tries hard to find God.”

  • He recites the Bible aloud (v. 13)
  • He studies the commands of the Bible (v. 15)
  • He reflects on the truths of the Bible (v. 15)

This is a great reminder that your devotional time doesn’t have to be exciting to be spiritual. Of course, I don’t mean that a relationship with God should be lifeless or emotionless, I simply mean that inspiration is not a random occurrence. Information leads to Inspiration. After David recited, studied, and reflected on the Bible, two things happened:

  • He felt delight (v. 16)
  • He remembered what he read (v. 16)

This is what always happens. The more you learn the Bible, the more you will love it. So, what should you do if you don’t feel inspired to read the Bible or spend time with God today? Do it anyway. Learn a fact, or memorize scripture, or reflect on a truth. If you create a place to meet with God, God will meet you there.