John 10:27 NIV
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
A few weeks ago, we heard this sermon at church and it totally rocked both my husband Sam and my socks off! I’m not sure anyone says that anymore, but I’m still going with it. Anyways, since hearing that sermon on ways we can be listening to the Lord and how He can speak to us, I’ve not only felt convicted for myself to step up my morning quiet time routine, but I’ve also felt a tug to share that conviction and what I’m learning through it!
Mornings are tough. I mean, unless maybe you’re a yoga instructor that rises with the sun and actually likes the taste of kale plain and not covered in a caesar dressing and/or disguised in a fruit smoothie. I don’t fall into any of those categories, so I’m going to stick to the fact that in my world, mornings are tough for me. It’s hard to not only get out of bed early, but it’s also tough to rise and get all of my ‘to-do’s’ done, whatever they all may be, before I need to get out the door and get on with my day. Selfishly, an extra 15 minutes of time set aside doesn’t often feel doable. However, I know that even though it may not feel doable, it’s also crucial.
Why does 15 minutes feel like so much to me/us? Especially in the morning? When I think about how many other mindless/pointless/worthless things I do during a span of 15 minutes multiple times throughout my days, it’s actually quite embarrassing. I mean, watching The Bachelor alone (don’t even get me started on this season… ugh) is 2 hours out of my week and even though I leave the math to my CPA of a husband… I’m pretty sure that’s a lot of 15 minutes on top of 15 minutes! And to think I prioritize that or anything else that isn’t very good for my soul above beginning my day with just 15 minutes with my Father and Creator who loves me more than I can even fathom? Now that’s not just embarrassing, that’s straight up disheartening.
I’ve often justified my sporadic morning quiet times with the fact that I usually read my bible and/or a faith-based book at night before bed. And though I still absolutely love and will continue to end my day with Jesus, I have desperately needed to get better about beginning my days with Him too – no matter what. No distractions, no checking my phone or inbox, no turning on The Today Show in the background to hang out with my bestie Jenna Bush Hagar… those things must all come after I set aside time with The Lord and allow Him to speak into me, my faith, and my life before the distractions of the day and our world begin to take way.
In that sermon I referenced, the congregation was encouraged to commit to a ’10 Day Challenge’ to start their days with an intentional 15 minutes with God. I took it. I didn’t make it 10 days straight. But my goodness, I have also taken the grace that is in my shortcomings freely given in Jesus’ love and I have also learned so much from the mornings I have made those 15 minutes a top priority!
There is absolutely nothing better than starting your day with the Word of God and time with The Lord. Nothing! And every morning I choose this before anything else… I’m reminded of this! Yes, praying throughout the day, listening to worship music, reading a faith-based book, reading scripture on an app on your phone, or even podcasting a sermon throughout the day and/or week is without a doubt a wonderful way to keep in touch and in tune with the Lord, but I’ve found that it still doesn’t replace those 15 minutes. 15 minutes of quiet. 15 minutes to not think about anything else on your plate for the day or the rest of the week. 15 minutes to say, “Lord, direct my thoughts. Lord, lead me in Your steps.” 15 minutes to give yourself ears to listen and a willingness to hear what God has to say to us. Because surely if we’re willing to allow ourselves to listen… God will speak.
Whoever has ears, let them hear.
When I prioritize those 15 minutes, my mindset for the day instantly changes. Yes, the stressors of the day still very much exist. Of course! But my perspective in approaching those stressors with Christ first and not myself comes from the routine of beginning and surrendering myself to my Savior before I even begin to try to approach my days alone. For when I try the ‘go at it alone’ approach, I fail every. single. time. Guaranteed! So to feel the grace and freedom that comes with those 15 minutes? It’s too life changing not to prioritize and share with you here today!
So, where to begin! Well… I get it. Sometimes just sitting down in a quiet room when you’re already tired and stressed about what the day may bring doesn’t feel like the most encouraging of times. But I promise, it really can be!
Here are some things that have really helped me personally set myself up for success in making the most out of 15 minutes of quiet time every morning:
Plan for it the Night Before
For me, I like to do my quiet time still in bed and just a few minutes after I hit the alarm and allow myself to wake up. Some people like to get up, make their cup of coffee, and sit down with The Word. I admire those people. For me, I’m too distracted by the to-do’s around the house, I check my phone, I spend too much time in the bathroom…. the list goes on and essentially I’ve lost those precious 15 minutes before I know it. Because of this, I leave my bible, journal, devotional, and pen at my bedside so that it’s the first thing that I see when I hit that beeping (could be taken multiple ways in this sentence) alarm clock!
Ditch Your Phone/Use a real alarm clock!
Because this blog of mine has become quite an important part of my life, I’m often quite glued to my phone. I’ve learned that’s okay, but with appropriate boundaries. For me personally, having my phone by my bedside does not fall under appropriate boundaries. So, I leave it across the room or in the other room while I sleep/read/have quiet time so that I’m not even tempted to be distracted by it. Because I used to use my phone as my alarm clock, I’ve had to actually purchase and use an old school alarm clock to wake up with! I have to say… I love it. I’m not bombarded with notifications the second I press snooze and I’m forced to just sit in bed and allow myself to wake up naturally without the glow of a screen. It sets myself up to prop my body to reach for my alarm and then my stack of books from the night before and get to quiet time-ing!
Keep the Routine Consistent (and allow yourself grace when needed)
Something I loved from the sermon was the emphasis on doing your quiet time in the same place and at the same time in order to truly make it a habit. Essentially, it’s being disciplined in setting up a strong regular routine. When I was thinking through on how to keep my routine consistent, I realized that doing my quiet time first thing in bed was going to be the place I was most consistent in. But whatever your morning routine is, just make sure it is just that – ROUTINE. I can’t stress this enough because to be honest… this is where I struggle the most! But when I ask God for the strength to be disciplined in this, I receive it. And when I fall short and succumb to my earthly ways and desires of how I think my mornings should go… I feel the weight of that. But thank goodness God gives me GRACE in that! And I’m reminded that every morning is a new morning full of fresh mercies and His fresh love and grace!
Here is a list of some of my favorite devotionals (new and old) that help keep my quiet times disciplined and encouraging:
My current favorite read to end my days:
Other Ideas for a Successful Quiet Time:
Seeing as I love to write (if you couldn’t tell by this blog), you’d think I’d feel confident in my journaling capabilities. But to be honest, I’m quite terrible at it! I don’t know where to begin, I feel rushed in my thoughts as my hand is cramping trying to keep up, and I plain just want a keyboard to type things out as fast as I’m thinking them! Because of this, I use my journal more to take notes from my devotional passages and write out anything that specifically hits me or that I want to reference later (say, that night). I also like to write out prayer requests in my journal, too! It’s not pretty and perfect but it works for me! I use my time in prayer to really let my words flow… and sometimes out loud. And trust me, those certainly aren’t perfect either! Sometimes, they’re downright uncomfortable! But again, I’m learning through the process!
Because really…. this entire 15 minutes is up to what works best for YOU. Only you will be the one to figure out how you function the best in this routine, find out what works and what doesn’t, what tools you need to keep yourself accountable, and what you ultimately need to be implementing to make that regular time a reality! Remember, there is plenty of grace for that trial and error! Don’t. Give. Up! There is grace for you in this!
If you’re anything like me… accountability is key. I need to be able to tell others that I’m working on something in order to stay motivated to continue. So, that’s partially why I’m blogging this! So, will y’all hold me accountable in this? And if you’re in the market for revamping your QTs or maybe even starting to explore what this whole quiet time thing is for the first time… I’d love to be partners in it together! Will you please email me?! I’d love to know what devotional you’re thinking of doing and how I can maybe help encourage you in it – and absolutely vice versa!
One last thought from that sermon (Seriously, go watch it! So good!) that I can’t get out of my brain is the reminder of this truth: this whole quiet time thing isn’t for God. God is perfect and good ALL the time! He doesn’t need 15 minutes of solo time for Himself! And it’s certainly not for us to get a gold star for the morning and carry on solo for the remainder of the day. Ummm, nope. GOD actually gives us the gift of quiet time for US. It is an absolute cherished treasure to be able to be in communication with our Father on such a personal and intimate level! Remember, our identity is in CHRIST. So these 15 minutes a morning are because we need HIM, not because He needs us.
So, let’s do this!
15 minutes a day with The One who created it.
Will you join me in the challenge this week?!