Quiet times

*2006 post*

I have been pondering the question posed by Kendra, “How do you nurture your relationship with God?”

I thought I’d share a bit about the things I do to nurture my relationship with God.

For the last few years, the time that best works for me to spend time with God has been during nap time. My four-year old does not take a nap, but she is still expected to play quietly for about an hour so that I can have this time.

After I read stories and put the boys down for their naps, I tell my daughter that mommy is going to have her quiet time, and remind her that this is hers: please play quietly. I generally give her a few ideas of what she could play with during this time.

And then I’m off to my bedroom. During this time, these are the things I do:

· Read my Bible. I’m generally reading through a book of the Bible. Lately it’s been Jeremiah.
· Journal. My journal is always written as a prayer to God, as opposed to a “dear diary” thing.) Or I will write out verses from my reading, or lists of who to pray for. This is also the journal I take to church to take notes in, so I have it to refer back to.
· Bible Study. If I’m doing one at the time. This past year I have done a couple of Beth Moore studies. I’ve done Precepts (Kay Arthur) in the past, too.
· Pray. When I pray, I pray out loud; it helps me not be distracted. I find that if I’m praying in my head, or even journaling at times, my mind wanders more frequently. Over the years I’ve made it a practice to pray aloud when I’m by myself. Not LOUDLY, but in kind of a quiet voice.

This was working out quite well, with the occasional interruption from my daughter: (“Mommy, I need you to help me wipe!” was a frequent one). But for the most part, this was my time. Then, one day, a few months back- I was in my room, praying, and in came my girl, with HER Bible and her ‘journal’ and her pen, and she wanted to join me. What could I say? “No. This is mommy’s time”? I did have this thought. I love this time. It is my only ‘down time’ of the day, and I like to guard it. But then that thought quickly evaporated when I realized that this could be a wonderful opportunity for her to see what I do and take part in it, and to hopefully “catch” some of it.

The first day she wanted to join me, I was nearing the end of my quiet time and was praying. I asked her if she wanted to pray with me. She said, “Yes!” and she scrambled up onto the bed. She said she’d go first, and prayed a quick, short prayer. So I explained that mommy prayed a lot of things- sometimes for a long time (not actually super long, but in her mind, it would be a long time). And that sometimes mommy was quiet in between praying to see if the Holy Spirit laid anyone or anything on my heart that I should pray for during that time. So she, too- listened intently to see if the Holy Spirit would lay someone upon her heart. And suddenly she said excitedly, “GRANDPA!” And I said, “Oh.. do you think God wants you to pray for Grandpa right now?” And she said, “YES!" And began praying…

For a few weeks, she regularly met me for this prayer time. This was a sweet, sweet time… we’d both lay on our tummies on my bed, and pray together. A few times I fought the feeling that this wasn’t as constructive or productive of a prayer time as I would like it to be, but I was also touched that she would want to spend her time with me in prayer. Her prayers were earnest, and she was diligent in reminding me who we should be praying for. She would say, “Mommy. You pray for Michelle. I’m going to pray for Daddy.” And then she’d bow her head and whisper, like I do when I pray. And we’d both pray. Then if one of us finished first (usually her), she would wait and listen until I wrapped up, and then she’d give me a new person or topic.

So my time has been changed to our time, at least during this season. Not every day, but often- my daughter will quietly come into the room at some point during my quiet time, clutching her Bible, notebook, and a pen, and crawl up on the bed with me. She will look through her Bible or write in her journal, and I will do my thing and answer her questions in between. Sometimes we pray together. Then sometimes we snuggle up and take a nap together afterwards.

This has made me hunger, though, for more time to be with the Lord, just me and him. So my goal for the last month or so has been to get up at 5:30 (before my earliest early riser!) and spend that time with God. I would like that time to be mostly prayer-focused. During these times, I have followed the A.C.T.S. model (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication). I make sure to have a time of confession as well as to pray for the day ahead: for patience, diligence, self-control, kindness, etc. I ask that God would fill me afresh with his spirit for the day. (Unfortunately, I have given in far too many times to sleep and have not gotten up, so this is still a work in progress.) But it is something I plan to make a habit of.

Outside of my quiet time, some of the other things I do to nurture my relationship with God are:

· Each morning at breakfast, I read a Psalm out loud while the kids listen in. Then we talk about it or sing a song (if in the verses we’ve read we recognize a chorus we know).
· In the shower, I try to remember to check the list I have up that indicates what it is I’m praying for for my husband that day.
· We attempt to have family devotions at the table after dinner each night. This is a work-in-progress, too. Sometimes my husband gets home late from work, or we aren’t home for dinner and it gets missed. This is something that we’re growing in and want to do very much, though.
· When I listen to music (usually in the car) it is nearly always a worship CD or some sort of kids praise. I really don’t think my children even KNOW that there is anything other than praise music ; that’s what we listen to. If it’s their choice, I’m singing along, and if it’s mine, they’re singing along. We do lots of worshiping when we drive!
· Once a week, my husband comes home for an extended lunch break while I go to a prayer meeting at church. It’s only one hour, but it is a precious one. I love this time. I get to meet with three mentor-type women who have encouraged me much. We focus on prayer for our church but we also pray for one another.
· The other thing that I have done is to read the Proverb for whatever day it is (ie- if it’s the 10th of the month, you read the 10th chapter of Proverbs). I first heard of this idea on Fletch’s site. I love this idea, but this is not happening every day yet!!!

These times of nurturing my relationship with God are important times. I have been a Christian since I was a little girl; my daughters’ age. For years and years I struggled with this: having a regular quiet time/devotion time with God. What I have learned is to PLAN it into my day, and not put it off or plan to do it when I crawl into bed at night. (When I’ve done that, it’s short because I’m groggy and ready to SLEEP, or it doesn't happen at all.)

Of course having young children makes this more challenging, but I think it also makes it all the more important. In every way, my children are watching me throughout our days together. They mimic what I say and what I do (I see this especially when my daughter is playing dollhouse or when she is playing mommy to her baby, or when my children interact with one another. Often-- and alarmingly at times-- I see myself in their interactions.) They also see what is most important to me by observing the things I spend my time doing and talking about. I want to be intentional in all of these areas so that the time I spend nurturing my relationship with God is reflected in my life!

1 comment:

  1. Jul. 10, 2006 - Untitled Comment
    Posted by Rebeca
    Thanks Stacy, for taking the time to share this. I am encouraged, as this is an area I struggle with since having kids.


    Jul. 10, 2006 - Great Post
    Posted by Sandi
    I so appreciate your willingness to have QT with your daughter. My six year old would love that time with me and it never occured to me to invite her into it. Thanks for the idea. I hear you about the early risers. Finally my son is sleeping past 6 am and some mornings till 7 so I can get up before him some days.


    Jul. 10, 2006 - me again
    Posted by Sandi

    I remember you asking long ago on another post if I had a blog. I do and am finally anwsering you! LOL I can be a bit slow.

    Here it is


    Jul. 10, 2006 - Untitled Comment
    Posted by Michelle
    Thank you for sharing the things you do to stay in communion with God...I get so frustrated at Satan's attempts to distract me and discourage me in my desire to draw near to the Lord each and every day. I think the best reminder to me here, is to PLAN my quiet time into my day...so often I wait for that time to just appear in my day...next thing I know, I am tired and groggy (just like you describe) and the Lord is only getting my left-overs! Yikes! Thanks for sharing this, something I needed to hear. =) p.s. That Proverbs idea sounds like a good one...we should chat about that each day!! =) wink.


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