Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Knowing God implies knowing what God wants. Even before we go on to other disciplines we need to know, “Is this what the Father is doing?” Jesus spent hours each day listening in the presence of His Father – to the point of knowing Him and knowing exactly what He was doing.
1. Quiet Time
In “The Spirit of the Disciplines,” Dallas Willard speaks to that issue directly when he says, “Just try fasting, prayer, service, giving, or even celebration without the preparation accomplished in the quiet time, and you will soon be thrown into despair by your efforts, very likely abandoning your attempt altogether.”
What is best for you? The best time? The best place? The best tools? God has wired each one of us differently, and we respond to Him differently and thrive differently in how we interact with Him.
Author Richard Foster says this of the quiet-time, “At first we think the quiet-time is a way to recharge our batteries in order to enter life’s many competitions with new vigor and strength. In time, however, we find that solitude gives us power not to win the rat race, but to ignore the rat race altogether.”
What a perfect description of the life of Jesus! Busyness was not a part of His vocabulary or life. He altogether ignored the rat race even of His day. No wonder He had such peace and serenity.
In the quiet time I journal, which is giving attention to God and being attentive to God. It is integrating into your life what God is doing and saying, to create a history.
As I write down my impressions of how God is speaking, it really does help me to be more attentive to what God is saying. I find my focus becoming clearer and my prayers becoming more accurately directed as I see on paper what God is saying and doing in and through me.
As I pray for individuals, I’m also writing down impressions and mental images that come to mind – it helps me to retain them and sometimes even share that with them to bless them and minister to them.
The challenge here is not so much in doing it, as it is in just being real as I write, and relating more completely my dreams, impressions, emotions – everything that is true of me today. What is my response to the scripture I’ve read today, what is my response to this event – is God using it to speak to me? Write it down!
And of course, our relationship with God is applied in the discipline of fellowship.
The book, “How to Conduct a Spiritual Life Retreat” has this statement, “A supportive, praying, intimate community is the preferable context out of which we enter into the quiet-time. Jesus recognized the need for such relationships and began His ministry by entering into an intimate community of 12 people. Further, He invited an even more intimate group of 3 people to support Him at other times.” We need each other, and what we do affects each other.
Author Dallas Willard emphasizes this very thing by saying, “In fellowship we engage in common activities of worship, study, prayer, celebration and service with other disciples.”
He continues, “Personalities united can contain more of God and sustain the force of His greatest presence much better than scattered individuals. The fire of God kindles higher as the brands are heaped together and each is warmed by the other’s flame. The members of the body must be in contact if they are to sustain and be sustained by each other.”
We need one another as Christ’s unconditional love flows through us to each other, literally helping us to know Him more. As was said earlier, “A supportive, praying community is the preferable context out of which we enter into the quiet time.”
These are just a fraction of the tools we can use to become attentive to the voice of God – they happen to be the ones that have been most useful to me in my own walk. The quiet time, hand in hand with journaling, enhanced by fasting, coming out of fellowship. I hope these tools can be as useful to you as they have been for me.
The Bottom Line
For me the bottom line is that I want to love Him, I want to know Him, I want to give myself fully to Him in pursuing Him. Few say it better than A.W. Tozer in his book, “Pursuit of God,” “Whoever will listen will hear the speaking Heaven. This is definitely not the hour when men take kindly to an exhortation to listen, for listening is not today a part of popular religion. We’re at the opposite end of the pole there.”
He goes on, “Religion has accepted the monstrous heresy that noise, size, activity and bluster make a person dear to God. But we may take heart. To the people caught in the tempest of the last great conflict, God says, “Be still and know that I am God,” and still He says it as if He means to tell us that our strength and safety lie not in noise, but in silence.”