Is This Lie Keeping You from Consistent Quiet Time?
Let’s face it: for the last few years (or decades) of your Christian life, you’ve had “consistent quiet time” on your list of New Year resolutions.
Every year, you tell yourself, “I’m going to do better. I’ll read my Bible every day. I’ll be more disciplined in my relationship with God. I’ll kick that sinful habit and finally start living a pure life.”
But just a few weeks into your new resolution, you’ve already lost steam. You miss a day which turns into ten, and before long, you’ve abandoned your goal altogether.
Guilt piles on top of failure, and you shove the Bible out of sight to avoid its condemning stare.
But what if we’re going about this entirely wrong?
Many of us believe that if we just try harder, we’ll achieve our self-improvement goals.
But that’s a lie.
Scripture says we can’t help ourselves no matter how hard we try (John 15:5, Gal 2:20, 2 Cor 12:9-10).
- We can’t will ourselves to be more disciplined.
- We can’t make ourselves want to read the Bible more.
- We can’t transform our night-owl habits into bright-morning love.
- We can’t be better Christians.
In fact, that’s the essence of the Gospel. The very premise of our faith is that we can’t be better on our own and we need God to save us. We readily accept this truth when it comes to our salvation, but somehow we fall into our old way of thinking when it comes to our sanctification.
The truth is that self-control is the fruit of the Spirit, just like all the other traits that emulate the character of Jesus Christ. If we want to be more disciplined, whether in our quiet time, our eating habits, our finances, or anything else, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to change us, and then we need to obey whatever He tells us to do.
In other words, God works in us and we work in Him. As Philippians 2:13 says, it is God who gives us both the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.
God won’t change us with the snap of His fingers–He invites us to participate in this transformation.
So what does this mean for your resolution to be more consistent in your quiet time? A few key takeaways:
- Instead of trying harder, ask the Holy Spirit to give you the desire to obey.
- Instead of hiding your dread of reading the Bible, be honest with God. He knows already.
- Instead of despairing when you miss a day, confess your weakness to God and ask Him to give you the power to obey.
- Instead of becoming proud when you’re on a winning streak, praise God for His work in you.
God invites us into a relationship with Him, not into a self-improvement program. He delights in our tiny steps of obedience, even when we’re clumsy like a toddler. And He rejoices over us as we find our satisfaction in Him.
So make this year different from all the others. Chuck the lie that you’ll be better because you’re going to try harder, and invite God to transform both your desires and your will every day. You’ll be delighted at the transformation that will take place, and so will He.
With much joy,
PS If you’re looking for help in becoming more consistent in your quiet time, check out my free 6-week eCourse. I’ll send you weekly encouragement, ideas, and resources to help you grow!
There has been a blessed “transfer of power” in my life recently as I’ve come to realize and understand better the Spirit’s work, and what is my work. Glory. And what is ours to do, we can still ask God to help us. What a wonderful Saviour!
Praise God! What a relief to no longer bear a burden that was never ours in the first place!
Interesting proposition… I’m not sure if I agree completely because non-Christians can have self-discipline too, but you do bring up a good point about why we keep failing when we try to do things on our own… Because we aren’t supposed to!
Hi Brittany! Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Like all parts of the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, etc), self-discipline will come easier for some than it does for others.
You’re right: there are unbelievers who exhibit remarkable self-control. But I believe the Spirit’s supernatural work occurs when circumstances are not conducive to exhibiting that fruit. For example, anyone can be patient with a cute toddler; but showing patience to a two-year-old who has repeatedly defied your instructions and deliberately disobeys just to push the limit? That requires a supernatural work of God. (Just speaking from personal experience here.)
So with self-discipline, some of us experience seasons and circumstances when it’s easier to spend time with God. But to remain consistent in daily devotions during the busy seasons of motherhood, the exhaustion of having a newborn, the stress of a failing marriage, the depression of burying a loved one… I believe that requires the Holy Spirit’s intervention. Our own self-discipline will only take us so far–God is the One who will complete the work He’s started in us as we place ourselves at His disposal. (That was much longer than I intended, but I appreciate the opportunity to think more deeply about it. I welcome your further thoughts.)
Whao! what a good pieces. I enjoyed your mail. God will continue to bless you; and enrich your ministry.
You are blessed.
“God invites us into a relationship with Him, not into a self-improvement program.” I love that! I’m going to be chewing on that one all day. Bless you!
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