Why Time with God?
The quiet time, devotions or daily readings are a few of the names given to the practice of spending regular time with God. Other writers have written extensively about the priority of this time in the Christian’s daily life. Therefore, much of what I say will not be new. My aim in this article is to encourage and remind us of three possible reasons for maintaining this time. Hopefully, in the next article, I can offer practical ways of doing so.
Why should time with God be a priority? The first reason I propose is that Jesus made it His priority. Throughout His life, He prayed regularly and learned His Father’s word. The ways in which He did this varied from going into solitude to offering up prayers on the spot. We see that in ‘crisis situations’ - including when He was tempted in the desert and in the Garden of Gethsemane - He had the immediate resource of His Father’s Word and His ministering presence. His relationship with His Father was there, regardless of the emotions and the circumstances He encountered.
We also have the security of this relationship, no matter what is happening within and around us. We may argue, well, disciplined Bible study and prayers are hard. Can we not just attend Sunday services, meetings and spend time with other Christians? While doing these things can be a part of the way we show our relationship with God, I suggest that they are not enough to bring about the closeness that can be so fulfilling. Nor are they as secure as we think.
Therefore, a second reason for spending time with God is that He alone is our sure security. We lay a foundation in our present time with Him that will help us in the future. For example, we may have a sudden accident or illness and be confined to our homes. We may then draw upon the Lord more prepared when He becomes our only direct source of spiritual growth. I am not suggesting that people stop going to church, meetings and so on. Yet, we do wrong to expect the security in these things that only God can give.
The danger of unrealistic expectations can carry over into our human relationships, which leads me to a third reason for making time for God. Only He loves and knows us so intimately that He knows exactly what our struggles are, and how our needs and wants can best be fulfilled. In other words, we spend time with Him because He is perfect in all ways and can satisfy every expectation. Only He is able to perfectly do all things, not only in the wider world, but in equipping us for every detail of every situation. None of us is perfect - indeed we may fall again and again into destructive attitudes and behaviours. We may hurt ourselves and others without intending to, and feel as if we are caught in an unchanging cycle of our own wrongs and/or the wrongs of others.
The time we spend with God is when we recognise that we need His help constantly and turn to Him in dependence. We draw upon His comfort, strength and wisdom to go out and give. Far from being an exclusively private obligation, our time with God can be one in which He forgives, restores and sends us out anew if we are willing. I do not mean we expect an intense spiritual experience in every devotion. However, we can be nourished spiritually, as we are physically by food.
I conclude by urging: do not hesitate to spend time with God because of inadequacies. He does not require that we get our lives in order before we enjoy a close relationship with Him. He does understand us. We can express all things to Him as long as we do so in humility and reverence. He loves each of us individually and values us equally. He wants us to come to Him not out of duty, but because He delights in us.
Laura Simon is a former Free Church missionary in Lima, Peru.