Best of Christian Life Hacker – Quiet Time Has Got To Go

Since the past month and a half has been pretty intense here on Christian Life Hacker, I thought it might be good to revisit some of the posts that epitomize the Christian Life Hacker faith style. This is one of the first post from back in December:

Quiet Time Has Got To Go

I have a confession to make. I don’t have a quiet time. That’s right, the standard for evangelical spiritual growth is not in my vocabulary. Not because I dislike the idea of having a time of the day set aside for being quiet but because the term “quiet time” has turned into something powerless and reeks of church speak (terms that have very little meaning outside the church).

I am sorry, but my time spent talking to, listening to, and learning about God and his kingdom needs a term that packs a little more punch than “quiet time”. This term sounds like something I would do to my daughters to punish them or settle them down before bed.

Also, for anyone who has grown up in the church, the term has been used so frequently and with such “preachiness” that it instantly conjures up feelings of guilt in individuals who have failed to live up to all the requirements of a ‘quiet time’ (at least 15 minutes, first thing in the morning, chapter a day, etc.). I don’t know if I can come up with a better term, but the one that I have started using is “Spiritual Enrichment”.

To me, the term Spiritual Enrichment accomplishes two things. First, it helps explain the goal of the activity – to grow, to be enriched, improved. Second, it reminds us that what we are doing during this time is a spiritual activity and not just a time when we try to be alone with our Bible open. We are spiritual beings, that is part of the life that God breathed into us in the Garden of Eden and later at Pentecost. Evangelicals get nervous when talk turns too spiritual but denying our non-physical side is denying what makes humans unique and what made God so proud in creating us.

So, on this blog at least we will not use the term “quiet time” but will replace the idea with the term Spiritual Enrichment. I am not sold on this term so if anyone else has an idea on what we can call it please let me know.

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Spiritual Enrichment Workout: Recap

So we have the four elements to our workout:

1. Warm-up – Fixed-Hour Prayer (3 minutes)

2. Core – Scripture reading (4-5 minutes)

3. Strength – Prayer (3-5 minutes)

4. Cardio – Devotional reading (1-2 minutes)

I have placed the estimated time it takes to go through each element in parenthesis. On most days this takes me around 15 minutes, sometimes more, sometimes less and we certainly don’t want to be rigid about this as we need to be responsive to the Holy Spirit. If you have never tried an organized devotional time or have tried it in the past and are returning to it let me give you a few words of caution.

Reject the temptation to do more. This is what dooms most exercise programs, we try to do too much and are not realistic with our time, ability to be consistent, and attention span. Thus, once the newness wears off we cannot sustain our lengthy and involved program. Personally, when starting out, I would choose two of the elements above and do those for a week and then evaluate how it went.

Don’t worry if some days are dry. God seems to operate in a slow manner when it comes to our growth and pursuit of Christlikeness. Sure, we will have days where the words of scripture seem to warm our heart and fill us with inspiration and power but there will be others where are prayers are mechanical or we have to read things over and over because we can’t pay attention. Know that even on the dry days the Holy Spirit is working on you and guiding you along. No time spent concentrating on God is wasted.

My Spiritual Enrichment Workout

Because I am a son of a coach and been around sports my whole life and now am at the stage of life where working out is something that is a necessity for a healthy life, I tend to make natural parallels between a fitness workout and a spiritual workout. My Spiritual Enrichment (my name for “quiet time”) involves four main components. This week, I will explain each aspect of the workout:

1. Warm-Up

2. Core Workout

3. Strength

4. Cardio

First let me explain the Warm-Up

Warm-Up.  A reading from the Divine Hours. This is a manual to what is known as fixed-hour prayer. Basically, if we all lived in a monastery, we would have various times during the day when we would stop what we were doing and join together in prayer and worship. The Divine Hours provides scriptures, Psalms, songs, and prayers covering just a few pages. This is a good warm up for me because it reminds me of where the focus of spiritual enrichment should be – God and not myself. Also, for hundreds of years, the Psalms were the prayer, praise, and worship book  of the church and each one of the fixed-hour sessions offer heavy doses of the Psalms. Look here for an example of a morning session. Two words of instruction, first, when you see an asterisks that means you need to pause and second, I always get more out of it when I read through it out loud as if I were trying to memorize some of the readings.

Tomorrow we will look at the Core Workout section.