…for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. II Corinthians 3:6 (NIV)
I have a friend who’s been struggling. She had the good sense to enlist the help of a Christian counselor and poured her heart out. In one of the sessions, the counselor asked her to describe her devotional life, the practices she follows to feed her spirit and to connect with the Lord. My friend talked about the little religious routine she observes: Read the Bible passages recommended in her Prayer Book; read a popular devotional book; and pray. The counselor then asked how that helped, and my friend responded that it was just a custom that she followed. It was another task of the day that had to be checked off before dressing for work. What had started as a time of spiritual refreshing had gotten to be a habit so that there was no life in the practice. The counselor told her to stop that deadly list-checking and instead get out and walk and talk with God.
I remember times when my children were small that I would sometimes get annoyed if they demanded attention while I was “having my Quiet Time.” That sacred Time that no one was to interrupt. Instead, I, too, found that my devotional time had evolved into what Oswald Chambers called “my time with my habit.”
Of course, this is not to discredit a secret time each day that we set aside to be with the Lord. The whole point of devotional time is relationship. We put ourselves in a place of sitting and being with our Father and listening to him, talking with him, and waiting on him. The Psalmist tells us that “in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11).
None of this checking off the list. Having my Quiet Time. We are speaking of a refreshing, life-giving, intimate meeting with our precious Father. It becomes as necessary as breathing and eating, and it is not burdensome. It’s not dead time, and we wouldn’t miss it.
If your Quiet Time has gotten “lame” (as my children might say) and dry, put away your books and begin to seek God with all your heart, asking him to give you a hunger and thirst for him and his righteousness. And stay with it until he appears. He will not disappoint—but please put away those habits that masquerade as fellowship with him.
Father, sometimes we get caught up with our religious practices and mistake them for reality. Move us back into your presence so that we rediscover our joy. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.