Spending time with people is valuable — especially people you care about. It’s likely that you make time for friends or family throughout the week, or maybe even each day. Why is it essential that you spend time with people you care about? Simple, that’s how you get to know them. It’s how they get to know you. And, perhaps most importantly, it’s how you deepen relationships. It’s the same with God. He may already know how many hairs are on your head (Luke 12:7). But to deepen your relationship and get to know God, you need to make and spend time with him.
Quiet time with God
You might have heard the idea of spending time with God called “quiet time.” This idea has roots in the example of Christ separating himself from others to pray and be with God. This behavior is described in Matthew 26:36 when Jesus leaves the disciples to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. Again, in Mark 1:35, Jesus gets up early in the morning to go to a solitary place to pray. Then in Luke 5:16 (NIV), scripture says that “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
This separation from his disciples and followers removed distractions from focusing on God and prayer. It’s the same for us today. Having a “quiet time” with God enables us to focus our thoughts solely on him. John 15:1-4 (NIV) says:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
Spending time with God allows us to abide in him, communicating with our Savior. If Jesus Christ (God on earth as a man) is the vine, we must be connected to him to live. When we’re alive in Christ, we’re able to bear fruit, meaning love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). This “fruit” is born out of the understanding of who Jesus is and our deepening relationship with him as our life starts to conform to his earthly example.
Making time for God
James 4:8 says that, if we draw near to God, he will draw near to us. What does it mean to draw near to God? David writes in Psalm 63:6-8:
“On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.”
Here, David writes about how he thinks of God at night, while in bed. For some people that might be the preferred way to spend quiet time with God. When can you find “quiet” in your day? Is it in the morning before the kids get up or you go to work? Is it on your lunch break, when you’re outside by yourself? Or maybe it is in bed before you go to sleep. The goal is to find a time when there aren’t distractions, and when you can focus on God.
How long you spend might vary each day. There isn’t a requirement. There isn’t a set number of minutes that God is asking you to spend with him each day. However, consider how much time would you might spend talking to a friend or family on the phone. The Apostle Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) to “rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances.” We should have an open line of communication with God. But we should also follow Christ’s example and take time to stop what we’re doing, separate ourselves from the chaos of life, and abide in him.
How to have a quiet time with God
You did it. You made time to spend with God. What now? What do you do in this quiet time? It might seem daunting to spend time with your creator. However, remember that he cares for you. In 1 Peter 5:6-8, the Apostle Peter says to “humble yourselves” and “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
Psalm 139 reminds us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” God created you. God cares for you. He sent Jesus to earth and allowed him to take the punishment for our sins (John 3:16, Romans 5:8).
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16 NIV).”
You can approach God with confidence. What you do with this time is up to you. You can follow a structured plan for a quiet time if that helps keep your mind from wandering to what you need to get done today or what meetings are on the calendar. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association provides these practical suggestions for how to spend time with God.
1. Read the Bible
Hebrews 4:12 says that “the word of God is alive and active.” While 2 Timothy 3:16 describes the Bible as God-breathed and “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.” Reading the Bible is a great way to learn about who God is and what he wants for your life.
2. Talk to God through prayer
Prayer is a direct way to communicate with God. If you’re unfamiliar or uncomfortable with prayer, Jesus taught us how to pray in Matthew 6 in a passage of scripture commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer.” If you feel stuck in a rut in your prayers, check out this guide to refocus your prayer life.
3. Sit quietly with God to experience his peace
Just being quiet can be powerful. In 1 Kings 19:11-13, God reveals himself to the prophet Elijah, not in a great wind, earthquake, or fire, but in a gentle whisper. Listen for God in the quiet moments spent reflecting on his word or what he has done in your life.
4. Memorize verses from the Bible
As noted, the Bible is God-breathed and useful for all kinds of situations. Wouldn’t it be valuable to have it on the tip of your tongue and at the front of your mind when you need a reminder about God’s goodness or a word of encouragement for a friend? Make the effort to commit God’s word to memory.
The Message translation of the Bible perhaps summarizes most clearly why casting our mind on Jesus regularly is a critical part of following Christ.
“So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective” (Colossians 3:1-2 MSG).
Like this says, if you’re a follower of Christ, then act like it! Set your heart on where Christ is, and start by setting aside time each day to spend deepening your relationship with him.