“Quiet time”

There is no bona fide evidence that Jesus had a regular “quiet time.”  One or two isolated verses describing one or two instances do not a tendency make.

John 18:1-2 is intriguing viz. the relational habits of Jesus and the twelve, but this passage does not speak of devotional practices per se.  Neither does Luke 21:37 or Luke 22:39-40.  Mark 1:35 is important to note, but it describes only one occasion.  Matthew 26 describes Jesus praying in Gethsemane, and we don’t make that out to be an everyday thing.

In almost every available translation of Luke 5:16, a pattern does indeed seem to be in evidence, although the Greek tense and aspect of “withdraw,” taken by some scholars as an “ingressive imperfect,”[1] is ambiguous or even elusive to us moderns.  This pattern, assuming it is implied in the Greek, is Jesus’ pattern, though—not necessarily an imperative for the twelve, the one hundred twenty, or the rest of us disciples.

Here are a few thoughts on “quiet time” 20 centuries later:

  • I like quiet time.  It comes far too seldom in my life.
  • Quiet time is better, and more necessary, for some personality types than others.  (Being more than somewhat introverted, I am energized by alone time; I tend to be the most creative and productive when I am by myself.)  Not all of us are squeezed from the same mold.
  • When prayer time comes for me, it is welcome, too brief—mostly owing to distraction—and often occasioned by something.  (I’m not very good at following Jesus, but the “occasioned” part does seem to have been a part of the pattern for Him, too, so I don’t think I’m far off the mark in this aspect.)
  • Quiet time (now, read “personal devotional time”) is probably more helpful to more of us than many of us want to acknowledge.
  • Quiet time should be a servant of the Christian life, not its master.

These are just a few thoughts, not intended to be exhaustive by any stretch.  I’ll ask you spare me 1) any guilt-inducing thoughts (“everyone should have a quiet time every day”), 2) assumptions that every Good Christian does this, or 3) appeals to populist, non-exegetically oriented Christian authors, but other than those, what thoughts do you have?


[1] Look it up.  I did!

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4 thoughts on ““Quiet time”

  1. Evan 06/29/2011 / 10:18 am

    Whether we see the 12, 120 or the rest of the disciples following the discipline (and we certainly don’t see anything saying they didn’t practice it…), OUR ultimate example is Jesus, not the disciples or anyone as. I would think that if Jesus felt the need to “often withdraw to lonely places and pray,” shouldn’t we do the same? You mention that there is no bona fide evidence of Jesus doing so, yet Luke 5:16 says exactly that. Now how that “quiet time” is worded or used is certainly up for discussion, but I don’t believe that regular time spent alone with God is really a point to argue. If Jesus did it, and we are to be like our Christ, then we should to the same.

    This is in no way meant to be a guilt trip – I certainly struggle in making time to spend with God, but we sacrifice an awful lot for our earthly relationships, and I feel we should probably be willing to sacrifice at least those things to better our relationship with our Creator.

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    • Brian Casey 06/30/2011 / 8:10 am

      Evan, I’m glad (and not surprised) that you’re thinking and “hearting” about this. I’ve touched a nerve in you, and you’ve touched one in me. I think I’ll begin working on a clarification and expansion on a couple of points here. Thanks for offering your thoughts!

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  2. Roger Woods 06/29/2011 / 1:18 pm

    I used to beat myself up by comparing myself to the quiet time gurus that seemed to populate Christian books, gospel meetings and college campuses. I’ve since learned my method and timing for devotional time with God. I’ve learned that the assembled worship is my devotional time – especially singing – and that preparation for my sermon is my quiet time. I used to think those did not “count” because they were part of my job. Now I see them as part of my sacrifice of praise. Thanks for your thoughts Brian, got me thinking

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    • Brian Casey 06/30/2011 / 8:52 am

      Roger, so good to hear from you. Two (somewhat differently oriented) old friends chimed on this with very different orientations! I plan to write a follow-up post to clarify and expand a couple of points, but in the meantime, thanks especially to you for offering me even more liberty and good conscience. 🙂 For me, the “quiet time” often comes in preparation for worship–I can easily spend 4-5, and in some cases, up to 10 hours in preparation for a single, /a cappella /assembly. Those times are frequently more rich for my soul than the actual doing of the plan on Sunday morning. Also, for me, the writing of these blog posts has become something of a discipline for me; writing on important matters forces me to consider things deeply, from God’s perspective as well as my own, and at times, as though I am communing with Him.

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