Today's post will be a short little Q&A, because I received a couple messages with a similar theme, and I wanted to address it here :)
Stephanie: "How do you do QT?"
Let's start off with what is QT? So QT is Quiet Time, which is basically just fancy Christian terms for time with God. I've mostly just used the term QT, but I've also heard some people use the term "Devotionals" (or devos). QT is usually done by studying the Bible, but praise (singing) or reading sermons, or listening to sermons can count, too. The main thing is that QTs are supposed to be your personal time with God, so you have time to digest what you are learning, and introspect and reflect on what the Word/song/message means to you.
The easiest way to start off with doing QT is probably just praying about something and asking God to give you guidance, opening up your Bible, and studying whatever verse/chapter catches your eye first. This was the first way I began doing QT, because I had no idea where to begin! I didn't want to feel like I was looking for verses to affirm my thoughts and desires, and to be completely honest, I didn't know enough of the Bible to even look for anything. I go to this QT strategy from time to time, especially when I am feeling lost, or if I am going through a dry season and feel particularly estranged from God.
Sometimes QT is guided in a devotional book, or from a bible study group, or by a discipleship leader. There may be questions that they have listed for you to answer and meditate on, so that you can have a better understanding of the text itself. That's always nice to have, and it also makes QT a little easier.
If you've been following me for a while, then you know that one of the way s that I do QT is by reading the Bible from front to back (not in one sitting). I personally feel like it gives me the best insight, because I am able to follow the entire story from beginning to end. Do you realize that the Bible is probably one of the only stories we read completely out of order? The Bible itself tells a story from beginning to end (with some interludes and flashbacks, but for the most part, it's in chronological order). This is a great way to really just strap yourself down and commit to learning about how the world went from nothingness to the way it is now. It seems intimidating at first, but it really is not that intimidating.
Regardless of what way you are using to do QT, Google is your best friend. Google the context of your verse or chapter. Context makes a huge difference, because it gives you insight on why it would have been important in that period of time. Paparazzi loves taking what people says out of context and making headlines with them, and there are people who do that with the Bible. Understanding context will let you really reflect on why did God say/allow for something to happen, how it pertains to you in modern day, thus giving you a better understanding of how this applies to you, personally. For example: the armor of God is written in accordance to armory that we do not currently have. Googling warfare and armory of the ancient Romans can give you better insight on what each of the pieces mean, and how they pertain to your spiritual life.
Anonymous: "Do u get tired of doing ur Wednesday In The Words? How do u stay disciplined?"
To be honest, I am not great at doing QT. As a self-diagnosed workaholic with too many friends supporting the diagnosis, I am often way too overwhelmed. I overbook myself, and in the bustle of life, QT can often come second. There are only 24 hours in a day, and as I get older, I need some time to sleep! Obviously, this isn't the holy and "right" answer you're probably looking for, but it's the honest truth. Now that my schedule is a little bit more regular than before, it is easier for me to set aside a specific time (usually in the morning or late night) to do QT, because I don't have the excuse of having "sudden" things pop up anymore. The weekly Wednesday in the Word series is also helping me in staying accountable for keeping up with my reading, because it gives me an external motivation as well! Ultimately, what it comes down to is obedience.
If you ask my mum, she will tell you I am the most disobedient child to have ever graced the face of this earth, and you will do well to not learn from me, ever. I'm not exaggerating, my mum really is kind of a drama queen. I'm definitely far from being disciplined, and still, in my mid twenties, I struggle in my relationship with my mum. I feel like most people do tend to mellow out and are able to be harmonious with their mother, but not me; I'm still a rambunctious terrible teen. Long story short, I suck at being obedient. I am a very strong-headed person with a really stubborn set of morals, and it can often get in the way of me being obedient. What it really comes down to is whether or not I agree with what I'm being asked to do, and I don't always agree with what I am asked to do, whether it is from my mother, a teacher, a supervisor, or even God. I am the annoying problem child who wants to understand why, and will ask "Why not XYZ instead?".
For the longest time, I asked "Why do I have to do QT every day? Isn't it enough to serve in church and ministry and read for bible study homework? Isn't Christianity supposed to be based on faith and not works?" I asked friends and leaders for biblical reference that QT is actually necessary on top of prayer and attending church, but I often got a very jumbled answer. The answers would always include something about "if I love God" or "want to know God more". It didn't make sense to me: If I am taking at least ten hours out every week to attend and serve in church and ministry, praying consistently for my food and when I am distressed, why do I need to do QT every day? Why not just when I "need" it? For me, an extreme introvert, I felt like I was having more than enough intimate one-on-one time with God.
Since I did not feel like QT was necessary, my small group leader pushed me to do extra homework. It took a while, but bit by bit, I began to understand why QT was necessary. The more I read, the more questions I had, and the more answers I found. It wasn't about the hours I put into reading and praying and serving, but about how I was diving deeper into this relationship. I keep going back to 1 John 4:19 "We love because He first loved us" , and through meditating over this verse over and over again, I got my answer. We should strive to love ourselves, each other, and God in the way that God loves us. God knows us in and out, and can read our hearts and minds better than we can. He knows all the ways in which we are twisted and sinful, but still loves us enough to die for us. More and more, I realize that I know only a small speck of whom He is; even though there's nothing about that speck that I can complain about, I struggle to remain faithful in loving Him. As our Father, God does not expect us to love Him as much. He knows it is not possible. That is what makes His love unconditional. While we were ignorant of Him, He came for us. While we denied Him, He called us friend. While we crucified Him, He died for us. How does a God who cannot stand sin and separation from Him love sinful people so boundlessly? This overwhelming mysterious truth has piqued my interest to learn more about Him and how to honour Him. Every time I read, I still find myself asking new questions, and wanting to get to know Him more. That is what motivates me, intrinsically, to do QT.
Even with this motivation, there are honestly a lot of things that God falls second to in my life. It is a constant battle with time management to even do QT. It's tempting to forgo QT with a simple "Well, I have bible study later today anyways..." or "I just came back from church." Recognizing that there IS this battle is probably the first defense you have against it!
Since this was such a long, winded answer to your questions, here's a quick summary recap: 1. I'm not disciplined. 2. I needed to fully understand why QT was important to me, and maybe you do too. Pray about finding intrinsic motivation!
3. Wednesday in the Word is one of the ways I try to keep myself accountable! 4. Don't beat yourself up over missing a QT, but recognize that it is a spiritual battle, and fight a good fight. :)