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Why Is Having a Quiet Time SO HARD?
by Carrie Irving
Is the thought of having a daily quiet time mentally, emotionally, and/or spiritually challenging for you?
Do you struggle to set your heart or mind on meeting with the Lord…and then you don’t actually show up?
Even though I’ve been meeting with the Lord for years, that’s still something I struggle with. Nearly every morning when I set my heart to go meet with Him, I feel a pull to sleep in a little later or to skip the quiet time altogether.
I recognize the lie at work trying to convince me that He isn’t going to be there waiting for me. Or that if He is there waiting, when I speak into the silence, He won’t speak back.
Because I fear the “empty” space, sometimes I avoid it.
I think that’s a pretty common response to meeting with the Lord. All of us are dealing with wounds from the past: times when our parents didn’t show us the love we needed, encounters with friends or family members who reacted in anger or dismissal, etc. Maybe Mom wasn’t there when we needed her. Maybe Dad had “more important things” to deal with than our own petty troubles. Whatever our circumstances, we experienced pain and began to think in ways that don’t match God’s heart.
And so today, many believers don’t do regular quiet times because they think God isn’t going to show up and meet with them. They have trouble making time for Him because they feel the space ahead and choose not to take the risk of showing up just to be met with possible silence. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Combatting the Sense of Aloneness
I’ve noticed the empty-space syndrome in other areas of my life with God as well. It is a common fear for me in any sort of ministry situation or interaction where God’s Presence is required.
If I’m at church and a friend needs prayer—will God heal them? Will He even show up? What if I reach out to pray that healing prayer, and God doesn’t come to lead me through the prayer and manifest Himself in the healing?!
Or maybe I’m challenged to go on a missions trip or outreach, but I don’t sign up because I’m not sure God will meet me there. What if I get there and don’t have access to His Presence at all??
Nothing feels lonelier than a space where we feel God ought to be but He seemingly isn’t. How do we combat this sense of aloneness and learn to trust God anyway?
1. Acknowledge the Feeling
For me, I have to recognize this phenomenon exists. Why am I shying away from this prayer opportunity or a chance to sit and talk with my Creator? Is fear running the show now? Am I allowing fear to be bigger than what God says about this special space of meeting with Him?
2. Apply Truth
Applying God’s truth is so important and a key part of the process of sanctification and transformation: becoming who we were made to be through Jesus and the cross.
- God is a Friend who sticks closer to us than a brother (Prov. 18:24).
- We were once far off, but we were brought close through the blood of Jesus (Eph. 2:13).
- The Spirit of God lives in us and we in Him—that’s pretty close! (See 1 John 4:13.)
3. Recognize You Have a Choice
Once I acknowledge the feeling—that stepping into an “empty” space can be scary and requires courage on my part—and after I apply truth in that space, I still have a choice to make.
Will I go with the feeling of aloneness and let it rule me? Will the fear get its way and serve as a veil over what is actually true? Will I let the threat of emptiness intimidate me and cause me to back up or even turn around? Will I let my fear of the dark overtake me?
OR will I acknowledge the feeling and then choose to step into that seemingly empty space anyway—in quiet time, in ministry, on a missions trip—and light it up?
Is God waiting for me there, or isn’t He? My head has to choose the truth in spite of the objections of my fickle and feelings-oriented heart. Is it true that Jesus’ death and resurrection bought me a place at His table and His place in my heart? Will He ever leave me or forsake me? Is He Emmanuel, God with ME—or not?!
So I choose to press in and believe He WILL meet me there in what seems like a void to my heart.
And as I step in, He demonstrates His love over and over again by flooding the space with His light and Presence. Just as the sun is faithful to come up every morning, He will show up too.
Over the years, I’ve come to realize that He loves these times even more than I do. He is faithful, and when I take the step in faith, He meets me there.