Quiet, God’s Talking
Mike Heisler

Back on January 19th Pastor Ward spoke about Walking in the Spirit, the Way to Peace of Mind He encouraged us to get away, turn off the electronics and spend some time with God. We can get to the gym for an hour to workout but we can’t get away for 10 minutes with God. Okay, that’s a bad example. Most people I know with gym memberships don’t get there either, that includes me last year.

Regarding a quiet time, I’ve been doing this thing off and on, mostly on, for almost 40 years. It’s had some ups and downs. What have I learned? (This got longer than I intended but I hope it helps)

I’ve done journals. I’ve got years worth of writing in binders under my bed. Have I ever looked back? Well yes, I have. Just not in a thoughtful way. I’m always looking for a particular promise or word that I think is there but can’t quite remember well. “Didn’t God say something about …?” While I’m looking back I’m pleased with my progress, reminded of God’s provision and sometimes disappointmented that I’m still fighting some of the same old things. History builds faith.

The longer I journaled the less I had to say. His words were less frequent, or less clear, that’s another issue. Eventually I stopped getting the book out. That’s a mistake. Leave it out, with a pen, even if you aren’t using it. It will be ready when you are, like reading the bible or in the middle of the night. If you’re concerned about someone reading it, put it away but make it easy to grab. Jot down small things and see where it leads. And yes write it out, you want to take notes with pen and paper, because the action of physically writing something alters your brain structure so that you remember what you’ve learned. [1]

I’ve used devotional materials. There are a lot of them out there. “Our Daily Bread” was popular when I started. Now many are available for free on web sites and apps. Some are specific to a topic that may address a need in your life. I had gotten out of the habit of using these until Ward gave me one, “A year with CS Lewis”. I appreciated the topics and insights. I used it for three years benefitting from different things each time.

How many of you caught my inconsistency? I mentioned turning off the electronics and now I’m recommending apps. Bad Mike. A few weeks ago I was doing my reading on my phone app and a text message came up on my screen. It’s 6:30am, who’s texting at 6:30? I won’t go into detail but let’s just say it was trouble enough that it messed with my whole day. It happens. Find a book if it happens a lot.

Reading the bible is always good. Don’t let a “Walk through the Bible” in a year fool you. Reading the Bible in a year is a sprint not a walk. If you do it expect to miss some days and don’t stress over it. So what if it takes 14 months this is about peace not stress. I prefer shorter things like the OT Prophets or NT in 3 months, or Gospels and Acts in 2 months. The daily readings are shorter and I feel like I’m accomplishing something.

Tired of reading the same thing? Try different versions. If you normally read the NIV try the Message or NASB. Try a chronological version that intersperses things like the Psalms and Prophets with Samuel and Kings. It also will interleave the Gospels so you can see them together. Just put some time in the Bible.

Prayer time can be, the biggest challenge for some of us. I can discipline myself to follow a reading plan and a one page thought for the day but then to quiet myself to meditate on what I’ve read and converse with God, that can be a struggle. Music can help you settle down. Yes, I’m turning on the phone again, just for one song. God inhabits the praises of His people. Start with worship and go from there.

When & where should you do this? I’m going to discourage you right off from using your drive to work for prayer. Audio bibles or podcasts are good but you need a time without distractions to get with God. Yes, I’ve had some amazing conversations with God while driving across the state. But that’s in addition to a daily routine with God.

Do whatever you can to be consistent. Most people I know, like 95% end up doing it in the morning. When they wait for evening they are too tired, out of time, too preoccupied, always too something to stay with it. My day starts with a good morning to Marsha (who’s been up for an hour and is reading scripture out loud in the kitchen!), getting my coffee, and heading to the basement.

If you can find a space at home, on campus, in a park, just somewhere regular you will discover that it will help you focus and settle down. It becomes a sanctuary, holy, set apart from common use. Put a chair in a corner and only use it for your time with God. Ward likes to drive to a parking lot on South hill that overlooks the lake or near a field and watch the sun rise. Okay, he’s a little crazy but there are some awesome places around here in God’s creation that can bring you closer to Him. You get the sense that He is already there and it just makes it easier.

Another help is accountability. Tell someone else what you’re trying to do and allow them to ask you about it. I mentioned my ups and downs with this. Here’s my embarrassing confession. I had all but stopped doing any of this a few years back. Then Ward started doing his biannual questionnaire on being a disciple. The second time I had to check “no” to this stuff I was convicted and got back into the routine. It’s been a blessing.

I may revisit journaling and prayer in a later post. I’d be interested in what experience others have had. May the peace of God dwell in you richly.

[1] PowerPoint Makes Us Stupid. Here Are 3 Smarter Alternatives, Geoffrey James, Inc.com