Beth Moore set off a hot debate this week when she wrote, “spending time with God and spending time with the Bible are not the same thing… we can grow in facts and never grow a whit in faith.” I’m not familiar with Moore’s work, and I don’t want to spend this post criticizing her statement, especially since I am ignorant of her overall teachings. In light of the firestorm sparked by her comment, however, it is important to consider this question: What does it mean to spend time with God?
There are four aspects of “Spending Time with God” we ought to consider:
Quiet Time With God
“The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.”
~ Mark 6.30-32, ESV
This passage in Mark 6 describes a time when Jesus and the apostles took some time to rest and refresh after an extended period of work. If we continue reading the chapter, however, we see this respite was short lived, as people pursued them to their desolate place and Jesus fed five thousand men (plus women and children). Further on in verse 46, we see Jesus take time to be alone and pray with God.
Jesus recognized the necessity of alone time with His Father. He actively pursued this time, even though—like a young mother with children—people were pounding on the door with rumbling stomachs. Like a young mother, he had compassion on them and fed them, even though they had interrupted his precious time of quiet with the disciples.
Pursue quiet time alone with the Father, even if you only get five minutes. Minimize distractions (like your phone) and take some time to read God’s word, pray, or simply meditate on Him. Since I homeschool and my kids are “too old” for naps, I have an enforced quiet time so that each of us has time alone and time to do something quietly. I sometimes use this to catch up, but I love to use it for study. Early mornings, before everyone is awake is even more ideal and I use this frequently.
Find a way to be alone with the Father for deeper prayer or study.
Listening to God
Quiet time is valuable, but often elusive. The demands on our time feel ceaseless. Learn to incorporate time to listen to God’s Word and pray—even when our hands and feet can’t stop moving.
Audio bibles have been a life saver for me since there are days when my “quiet time” is eaten up with unforeseen demands (like a dog throwing up on the carpet). I can listen to the bible while scrubbing a rug, folding laundry, washing the dishes. or on the way to the gym.
However you incorporate bible reading, make it a priority. This is not an academic exercise, but an opportunity to learn about God and His will. We cannot have a relationship with God if we fail to listen to His words. Be creative in incorporating His word into your day.
Talking with God
A good relationship requires both listening and talking. Prayer is an opportunity to express our gratitude to God for his provision. In those precious moments, we lay our needs, fears, worries, and joys before the throne. I’ve even found myself sitting silently, unsure how to say what I’m feeling, but my heart is overwhelmed with gratitude that He is listening to my unformed words, knowing exactly what I need.
Like bible reading, prayer gets interrupted by sudden emergencies—hungry tummies, broken glass, disruptive dogs, UPS packages, or even falling asleep. Prayer is not always a formal affair. You can pray whether chaos abounds or the king asks you why you are sad, just as Nehemiah did. Whenever my heart seizes up with anxiety, I silently pray my fear to God in that very moment, even if I’m surrounded by people. Pray your way through the day.
Walking With God
In modern medicine, the body is compartmentalized into different departments like neurology, endocrinology, cardiology, etcetera. Some doctors who focus so heavily on one aspect of the human body that they attempt to fix a single problem without considering its affect on other body systems. While we can categorize the different systems of the human body, a doctor cannot work on one system without impacting others. We are fearfully and wonderfully made!
In a similar way, we cannot put God in a box. God should not be a mere part of our life; He should be our entire life. He is not limited to the walls of church buildings, nor does he somehow pop up like a genie out of the pages of our bibles. He isn’t walled in by earth’s atmosphere or confined to a period of history. God is everywhere at all times.
Whether cooking, teaching, writing, working, playing, or visiting, God is with us and within us in every moment. Time with God should not be limited to our “appointments” with Him. If I walk through my day aware of His presence, how will that affect my choices?
- How will I handle an argument if I know God is listening?
- How will I train my children?
- What will I post on Facebook, knowing God can read what I type?
- What manner of person will I be knowing that God is right beside me, knowing my every thought, hearing every word I utter, and seeing every expression on my face?
God is ever with us, but do we acknowledge His presence or do we treat Him like a servant, demanding that He come and go as it suits our needs?
Spend time in quiet. Spend time in prayer. Spend time in the word. Above all, spend your life with God. In every season, in every breath, live in the awareness of His eternal presence.
“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us…”
~ Acts 17.24-27, ESV