August 22, 2007 by Stacy McDonald

The Highly Revered (and impossible) "Quiet Time"

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Has anyone ever told you that you needed a time of quiet and peaceful solitude with God each morning? Have you ever been told that you should make sure you make time for yourself or you are somehow being deprived? Perhaps, they say, if you don’t get to spend a peaceful time alone with God you won’t even be able to care for your own family properly?

If you’re a mother of little ones, it’s very possible that those words are the very last thing in the world you need to hear. It seems like a cruel tease to tell a mother who is struggling to sacrificially serve her family that she desperately needs something she can’t have. I know for me, I do much better if someone tells me, “You can do it! You are raising up mighty arrows for God’s Kingdom! Praise God for your faithfulness!”

[Let me add a clarifier here: Spending time with God each day, praying and worshiping Him, is crucial to the life of any Christian. But it is a mistake to try to make our “quiet time” resemble someone else’s. We should spend time with God in the way He allows – in the time He gives us – without agonizing how quiet or secluded a time we manage to have.]

If someone tells me, “You poor thing. I don’t know how you do it. I would just die if I had to do what you’re doing. You really need to find time for yourself. You look really tired. You better take care of yourself, or no one else will!” Somehow that’s not very encouraging.
Just so you know, I don’t have a quiet time each day. My time with the Lord is not quiet or alone – I have little children. I set myself up for frustration and disappointment if I expect to not be interrupted or if I expect a peaceful and tranquil read through the Scriptures.

I read Scripture throughout the day (you should see my stash of Scripture by the potty!). I study the Word when my little ones are in bed (unless I happen to fall into bed exhausted at the end of the day). I pray when I’m bathing babies, when I’m in the shower, and when I’m driving to the grocery store. I pray with my children – often. And I don’t feel deprived or “less spiritual” for not having what I may have when my children are older – a quiet time, alone.

Occasionally, I do have a quiet time alone with God. When He ordains it, I am blessed. When He has ordained my time with Him to look (or sound) a little…noisier, I am blessed by that too. The goal is to trust God and look to Him for my rest and my refreshing. When I chase after it for myself, I find that I thirst all the more. He does a much better job of satisfying my soul than I do anyway.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33, NKJV)

I just discovered a great article for anyone who is interested in learning how Jesus managed his “quiet time.” Devotions or Commotions?



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24 Responses to “The Highly Revered (and impossible) "Quiet Time"”

  1. Tracy says:

    That is so refreshing to hear. I have heard over and over that I should have a quiet time every morning. I have felt so guilty over the past 4 years. I tried everything to have one. Getting up earlier did not work as I have a little one who seems to know as soon as my eyelids open in the morning. The only thing that happened in my efforts was that I felt guilty and lost more sleep than one already does with little ones.

    I plan to pass this onto other mothers of young ones. :)

  2. Cindy says:

    Thank you for your encouraging post, once again. I, too, have many littles and am glad to know I am no less “godly” for having noisy quiet times, as that is all that works – that or no quiet time at all.

  3. Mary says:

    Thanks for this little reminder this morning, I needed it. I’ve been told by a wonderful older woman that it is ludicrous to think that I can have a quiet time in the morning and that getting angry about it was just sin, but I do need to be reminded from time to time. Now I try to get the little snippets in during the day amidst the commotion of life and count it all as joy when I do get unexpected time alone with Him.

    I’m so glad I found your blog after Pastor Bayly linked to your feminism book post. :)

  4. Anna S says:

    Dear Stacy,

    I just found your blog through a link on LAF and wanted to tell you how much I appreciate what you say here! Here are my 2 cents. Focusing on one’s own needs is a slippery slope, because once we start it, we can never have enough.

    You are doing a tremendously important job as a wife and mother. And like you said, there are many different seasons in our lives. Who knows, maybe later on you will even miss this busy time!

  5. Jenn says:

    Thank you! I needed to hear that today…

  6. Anonymous says:

    Where were you when I was a young, new Mother? We became Christians shortly after marrying (we came from a cultic denomination) It was joy to learn that salvation was a gift from God, yet, not knowing the Scriptures well yet, I was also being made to feel guilty for not leaving my baby often so I could participate in this or that ministry, or for not devoting more time to planned Bible studies, etc. I really hated leaving my babies in others’ care! It was such a confusing time! God bless you for showing others the whole counsel of God, which means that a woman’s first priority is her home and family.

  7. Shanna says:

    Thank you so much for your post. I get tired of feeling guilty over this. We read from the Word daily. We pray together and learn together. So I guess my quiet time is noisy and I am oh so thankful for it.

  8. Stacy McDonald says:

    Yes, I think that’s the underlying problem with all of “me-ology.” It actually produces frustration, bitterness, more emptiness, and ungodly guilt. It may be comforting for a moment, but it doesn’t last. Only God can supply the true refreshing we need.

    I can remember feeling like, “What’s wrong with me? Why does everyone else seem to have it all together, and I can’t seem to have a single quiet time without getting frustrated over being interrupted every 5 seconds?”

    I wound up getting angry because I was trying to meet God each day “my way” rather than His way and it wasn’t working. I thought I had to spend time with God a certain way for it to “count.”

    I can remember praying at night (after the baby had been up 12 or 13 times) “Please God, please, please, please let her sleep.” And then I’d hear the inevitable scream. I would cry into my pillow because I knew it was only an hour before I had to get up. Then, when I tried to get up before the children woke up, inevitably I would open my Bible, start praying and I would hear the footsteps of toddler down the stairs. “Mommy I’m hungry.” And so my day would begin with frustration and heaviness, not having had my “spiritual time of rest and quiet communion with God.”

    Rather than pouring some cereal and reading my Bible with the children while they ate and I sipped a cup of coffee, I would begin my day feeling like a failure and perhaps even secretly feeling like God was unfair.

    It took me a long time to realize that I needed to serve God right where He had placed me – and I didn’t have to be in seclusion to spend quality time with Him. I was in His presence with every diaper change, every Bible story I told my children, every meal I prepared, every toilet I cleaned, and every math paper I graded. Sometimes we get too spiritual for our own good. We try to be holier than Jesus. He was certainly just as Holy when He washed the feet of His disciples and healed the sick than when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane! He didn’t seek “me-time” because He came to serve and we’re to emulate Him.

    God will provide us with the rest and refreshing we need. He will even provide us with time alone with Him sometimes. But, we’re not to knock ourselves out trying to get away from everyone to meet with God. We need to learn to find Him in the everyday commotion of serving our families too!

    Seek Him first (Matt 6:33) and let Him give you what you need – instead of trying to meet your own needs. You’ll be amazed at how much better at it He is!!

    And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19, NKJV)

  9. Linda says:

    Tracy,
    Thank you for posting this. I came to the same conclusion years ago and found my heart for God became lively again when I wasn’t so worried about “properly” orchestrating time with Him. (The same sort of thing worked out with my husband and the idea of “date night”.) Young moms need to be reminded that their LOVING Father gives them their days, and they can find joy in sharing Scripture with little ones, singing hymns, and memorizing verses posted over the kitchen sink.
    Blessings,
    Linda T. (granny to 5)

  10. Bonnie says:

    This addresses a real need in the Christian woman’s world today — especially the mother who is “all in all” to her family, as many homeschooling, home business mothers are.

    As my children (all adults now) were growing, some of the most precious times were when we unfolded the wonders of His world and Word together. Some of the most spiritually enlightening times were when He used those “clearly seen” moments, revealing Himself and His character through life happening.

    Of course, the quiet, alone times were special, too, allowing the principles of the Word to take root without the busyness of the household, but if my times are not ordained by Him, they are bound to be less productive.

    Now, I can spend quiet time every day, if He so leads, but what a joy it is to share it with a sweet little one! Today, grandson Benny and I were working on a phonics page, and a wonderful promise from Acts 18:9-10 came to mind. So we were able to stop and dig into it, as it applies to us. What sweeter time could a grandmother want?

    Anna is right — you will miss those times when the little ones are all big. Thank God, He knows our hearts cry, whether for quiet time or a little reminder of the busy times! He is faithful. What a good word of encouragement, Stacy!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Stacy,
    A hearty Amen! Can I mention again how happy I am that you decided to blog?! This post will serve as encouragement to many an overwhelmed mama out there who has been led to believe that she needs “me time” or an hour of quiet time fit into her already super busy day! God bless you Stacy for posting this.
    Laura in Va.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I am a mother of 3 boys, ages 5 and under, and one on the way, and I can’t tell you how sad and, sometimes quite frankly, angry that it makes me when I hear women from church telling me I “just need to wake up earlier” or “try harder” in the morning to have quiet time. That I need to “sacrifice more” or even much to my chagrin from Christian mothers “you should send those kids to school, you would get a break then” (we will homeschool, starting this year). Wow:(

    I wake up at 4:30 in the morning to see my dh off to work, bcs he has this really terrible commute. I get about half an hours more “sleep” then, I am up for the day, quite often forgoing a shower or brushed teeth in order to keep the level of chaos down in the morning. How much earlier do they want me to wake up or what else besides personal hygiene can I sacrifice?

    Anyways, I am spilling my guts on this because I really appreciate it when a Christian wife and mother understands that it isn’t as simple as waking up earlier or sacrificing more. Sometimes, it is all about finding the small spaces during the day to worship and commune with God, even if it isn’t before the crack of dawn!!

  13. Stacy McDonald says:

    “Sometimes, it is all about finding the small spaces during the day to worship and commune with God, even if it isn’t before the crack of dawn!!”

    Amen! That’s the point – learning to spend time with God in the time and way He ordains for us during a particular season of life. We must view serving our families as acts of service to God, rather than acts that “get in the way” of serving God!

  14. Michelle says:

    Stacy,
    So many times, as Christians, there are “requirements” put on us that become millstones around our necks that perpetually hinder us in our walk with God. Sometimes for years.

    You have no idea how this post has touched my weary soul today. I have struggled with this for many years (probably since my first was born almost 16 years ago) and have felt so defeated and inadequate most of the time. I can hardly remember a time where I didn’t think I was a terrible mother and Christian because I didn’t have this “set apart” quiet time with God.
    We have a beautiful, new 6 week old blessing and I know only too well about crying out to God in the middle of the night with exhaustion. I have also felt like a barren land where the things of God are concerned. It has seemed that every Sunday I’ve had to leave the worship service to nurse, not receiving any “nourishment” myself. In the nutshell, I’ve been starving. Your post has given me new perspective on how to find times with God. I guess I’ve always known them, but somehow thought I was less of a Christian to pray in the van or at the grocery rather than at 6am.
    Thank-you for your very wise words of encouragement. I hope I can bless others with them as well. :)

  15. Anonymous says:

    Stacy wrote:
    We must view serving our families as acts of service to God, rather than acts that “get in the way” of serving God!
    Amen! That is worth writing again and again! Now if only this was the message the churches were sending. We must encourage the ladies we see with these words that Stacy has shared with us, and teach them to our daughters as well.
    Laura in Va.

  16. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Laura,

    This is actually the message of the new book Jennie Chancey and I have written, Passionate Housewives Desperate for God. The comments here have really shown me how much women need to hear this message.

    If anyone has commented on this thread and wouldn’t mind me quoting them in the book, please email me at mcmom@patriarchspath.org. Our publisher’s deadline is looming, so I’ll have to add it quick. But, some of the comments here would be great encouragement to other women and a fitting addition to the chapter, Weary Women.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Years ago when I was a new mom I remember women telling me that having time to read the Bible at night (my natural awake time) was not as good as doing it before dawn. I struggled so much to make myself go to sleep early (didn’t work) so I could get up before dawn, only to fall asleep during the time I was trying to read and pray.

    I began asking God what was wrong with me. He began to call to me when I would get up with my son during the night. I was already up, so I began using that as prayer time, and it was the most awesome prayer time I have ever had! Now I look forward to a new baby just so I can have those special times.

    And I still never make it up before dawn, but I’ve learned to read the Bible all day, and all night, too.

    Brandi

  18. 5honeybunns says:

    Thank you for these encouraging words. The bible tells us to pray without ceasing and I think when you have young children in the house this is sometimes the only way to get through the day. Just kidding.
    I do get some quiet time, but the majority of my daily devotions and prayers include my children, so that they will learn how to pray and devote their lives to Christ. I want them to know how to live because it is being modeled in their lives. (only by His grace).
    Thank you for seeing the reality of life.

  19. Bethany says:

    I whole-heartedly agree with your comments here. My normal schedule is full of the disciplines of Christ — but never alone!

    At breakfast, I read a chapter of Scripture aloud to my 5 sons. After breakfast, we pray for the first column of families who need their burdens brought before the throne of grace. At lunch, I drill the catechism. Then I line out the hymn that our family is learning to sing in parts, explaining all of the doctrine that is found in the verse. After lunch, we pray for the second column of families. During Memory Time, we memorize scripture. At supper, my husband again reads a chapter of Scripture, and we sing hymns and psalms. After supper, we pray for the third column, which has l missionaries, people groups, living dinosaurs being found, and other requests that deal with the Glory of God being revealed on earth. At bedtime, we bring our own requests before God.

    I spend hours each day, immersed in Scripture, hymns, and prayer. And yet, I have had people tell me that I will burn out — that I need to take time for myself. That praying, singing, and teaching Scripture will not feed my soul but only drain it.

    But it is simply not true. It is my delight to open the Scriptures to my sons. It is not a burden to bring my brothers and sisters in Christ to the attention of our Older Brother. It feeds my soul to dwell on the truths of Christ, set forth in beautiful and skillful arrangements of word and note. It lightens my spirit to hear my children learning to tune their praise and to sing skillfully to their Creator. And the words of Scripture that are indelibly etched on my heart as I etch them in my children’s heart — these same words comfort, encourage, exhort, convict, and strengthen me as I walk through my loud and hectic days.

    I spend hours each day in corporate worship: teaching, exhorting, praying, singing. How could worship in the fellowship of believers do aught but strengthen me for the fight? As I teach my sons to follow the Lamb wherever He goes, I am reminded to keep my eyes on the Author and Finisher of my faith as well.

    As you take your children’s hands, and daily lead to their Shepherd, you also walk into His presence. As you teach them to seek His face, you also look up. He gently leads those who have young. He is not a hard master, but rather one who sings over us and our children with loving care.

  20. alaskamommy says:

    Thank you! I have two little ones napping right now (3 yrs old & 18 mo old), and I usually try to use this time to do laundry and then read at least a chapter from Proverbs. So far it’s worked out well, but it didn’t work when the youngest was still a wee one. I felt so parched during that time! Your post was a good reminder to keep a Bible in the bathroom and on the kitchen table, both to read for myself and to the little ones.

  21. (((((HUGS))))) sandi says:

    *THANK YOU!* for being the voice of reason on this issue! My best girlfriend and I discuss this all the time (with the same conclusion) but feel like we’re always under fire. OH you have just BLESSED ME SOOO VERY MUCH! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  22. (((((HUGS))))) sandi says:

    *THANK YOU!* for being the voice of reason on this issue! My best girlfriend and I discuss this all the time (with the same conclusion) but feel like we’re always under fire. OH you have just BLESSED ME SOOO VERY MUCH! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  23. (((((HUGS))))) sandi says:

    *THANK YOU!* for being the voice of reason on this issue! My best girlfriend and I discuss this all the time (with the same conclusion) but feel like we’re always under fire. OH you have just BLESSED ME SOOO VERY MUCH! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  24. Tina says:

    Sandi (above) is my very best girl friend and I’m so thankful she sent me a link to your post about this issue.

    I truly, truly cherish my quiet time in the mornings, when I get it. I don’t, however, let it ruin my day when it doesn’t happen. Quite often, regardless of how early I get up, one of the children will wake much earlier than I have planned. Or, I will disturb my husband and he will be somewhat irritated at not getting his needed sleep. It’s not pleasing to the Lord, I’m sure, to resent those who He has given me to serve, simply because they interrupt my time with Him.

    Thank you for a refreshing post!

    Tina

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