Too “Busy” Quiet Times

I was ready for my morning devotion/quiet time.

Bible – check.

Journal – check.

Prayer List – check.

Coffee – double check!

I started studying the Bible, journaling my thoughts, and prayed through the list (and I drank my coffee). But as I went though my morning routine, I noticed something missing. Rather, it was Someone missing: 


I was so busy doing my routine that I forgot that the most important thing is being with Jesus. He’s the reason why we establish the rhythm of the morning devotional/quiet time.

I am reminded of the story in Luke 10:38-42, the story of Mary and Martha.

Sisters, Mary and Martha, had the great honor of having Jesus come to their home. Martha was busy in her preparations, but Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to Him. Martha was flustered because Mary wasn’t helping her get the appetizers ready or setting the table. But Jesus gently rebuked Martha saying that Mary had chosen the better thing – the One thing that is needful – and that He wasn’t going to take that away from her.

Martha was busy doing things FOR Jesus. Mary was focused on being WITH Jesus.

I’ve usually applied this principle to ministry (that before I can do anything for Jesus, I need to be sure that I’m being with Him and hearing his voice). But I also think this applies to our personal, devotional life, too.

Does that happen to you, too? You go through the tasks of your devotional/quiet time, but realize that, besides asking Him to answer prayer, there wasn’t any further conversation with Jesus. No sense of communion or intimacy with Jesus. 

Kinda misses the point of why we have quiet times, why we have devotional times, doesn’t it?

It’s actually harder to be present with the Lord than it is to be active for the Lord. Being present requires an ability to keep focus. But I’ve also found that a couple of “tools” that have helped me:

1. Acknowledge God before, during and after a spiritual practice. For example, before reading the Bible passage, turn to God and ask, “Teach me, Lord. Holy Spirit, illuminate Your Word to me. Meet me in Your Scriptures.” And when God gives you a new insight or hits you with an apropos application, pause your reading and say “Thank you, Lord.” After reading and meditating on the passage, talk to Jesus about the next step (“Ok, Lord, it seems that you’re convicting me to change my attitude toward that person at work. Help me to do that today.”)

2. Take a few minutes to just be silent before the Lord. I’ve been doing this more and more and it is so helpful. If I’m getting distracted by thoughts that have nothing to do with God or I realize that I’m just going through the motions, I’ll stop everything and spend 2-3 minutes in silence before Him. (For a more in-depth look at this Silent Prayer, click here)

3. Rename this time. Sometimes the idea of “Quiet Time” or “Daily Devotions” or “Daily Bible Reading” puts the emphasis on the task versus the Person. Why not rename it “Time with Jesus” or “Divine Encounter Time.” I use the term “Personal Worship Time” (for more on this, click here) as it helps me to remember that this time is all about worshiping the Lord according to Romans 12:1-2 (remembering His mercies, offering my whole self as a living sacrifice to Him, asking Him to renew my mind and transform me to know and do His will).

But no matter what we call it, spending regular time one-on-one with the Lord is foundational to our spiritual growth and it is the cornerstone of the Whole Life Worship concept. May our times with Him be wonderful, intimate, awe-inspiring and ministering to our souls!

Share with us: What helps you to keep focus on being with the Lord in your personal times with Him?

8 thoughts on “Too “Busy” Quiet Times

  1. Thank you Doug for that reminder.
    I have a empty chair that faces me when I do my devotionals and I imagine my Lord sitting there for me to talk to…BUT you know what, I don’t greet Him like I would everyone else when I first see them. I don’t give Him a huge hug, beam with delight at having Him in my present. Offer Him a cup of coffee, Ask Him what is on His mind. Sit still and LISTEN to HIM first. I just do the checklist and then sometime during the devotional I will acknowledge Him.
    Love, MOM

  2. Good morning Doug,
    I’m so glad you are doing this! This last year I’m intentionally trying to be more like Mary, (as a recovering professional “Martha”). It blows my mind how the enemy try’s to interrupt my time with Jesus. I love how you shared it’s not about the routine. Lord God I just want to sit at you feet, because I don’t think he cares about my fancy highlighters lol. I also findI do best when no one is home or near me. Blessings, Sarah

    • Thanks, Sarah. You raise a really good point: the enemy is at work to keep us from connecting to Jesus. I remember reading somewhere that one of the most strategic things to do in a war situation is to take out your opponent’s “supply base.” Without supplies, one will lose the war. Our supply base as followers of Jesus is our time with Him. No wonder we feel the attack when we have this time with the Lord! So putting on the Armor of God is also a good spiritual rhythm for our personal worship times.

  3. For me it’s just remembering on a deep level that God is always with me. God is in every thing and in every place (God created it all so God’s essence is in it all, I sometimes have to remind myself). I’ve tried lighting a candle, praying a specific prayer, emptying my thoughts, and many other things, but it all comes back to just KNOWING that God is with me always.

    • Thanks, Benjamin! Great ideas and insight! It’s so important to know that God is always present with us – because He so loves us – in spite of our human struggle to stay present with Him.

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