A Quiet Time of Discipleship

by Pastor JR Cuevas

If you abide in My Word, then you are truly disciples of Mine

The great men of the faith deemed it as the Christian soldier’s most important activity. It’s that activity in which a believer can experience strength, comfort, conviction, encouragement, and exhortation all at the same time. It’s that activity in which, when one is engaged in it regularly and intimately, he finds himself exhibiting a sustained joy and strength even through the most painful of afflictions. And it’s the one activity that, when you ask a seasoned pastor what the secret is to spiritual growth, you are counseled never to neglect. Yet, the failure to engage in this activity can lead to disastrous outcomes for even the believers whom we consider the strongest. It’s the activity that, though is ever so vital to the believer’s life, is so often neglected or pushed off to a more convenient time. I’m referring to the hub of the Christian life. I’m referring to the beliver’s time alone with God. I’m referring to the believer’s “quiet time.”

As a pastor, not only are constantly trying to help people fight their spiritual battles; you’re busy trying to fight your own. Now, it would be fair to conclude that people don’t always go through the same circumstances, and don’t always respond to those circumstances in the same way. But one thing is certain; a lack of growth and fervor in the beliver’s life can always be traced back to a lack of intimacy in his relationship with the Lord. And a lack of intimacy with the Lord can usually – if not always – be traced back to a consistent dryness in one’s quiet times. If this time with God is so crucial, then why is it that Christians of all walks of life – from the neophytes to the church leaders – find themselves struggling staying fervent and faithful in this particular area of their lives? Perhaps it’s because Satan understands the importance of it, and subtlely attacks it without the Christian knowing so. And perhaps he does it through seeping in faulty perspectives into the Christian’s mind as to how to approach his time of solitude, whether it be in the morning or evening.

Why is it that all Christians find it a struggle to maintain discipline in their times with God? Perhaps it’s because they view their quiet times as that and only that – a discipline. Time spent in the Word and in prayer is viewed simply as an exercise of the mind and heart with the same type of discipline with which one exhibits when he goes for a jog or diligently completes his homework assignments. I’m not here to say that having good quiet times doesn’t involve discipline. It does – and requires more so than other endeavors. For others, the quiet time is a “devotional” time – and just that. It is viewed simply as a time when a believer can channel the deepest of his emotions and desires towards God. Again, I’m not here to say that having a good quiet times doesn’t involve devotion, for it does indeed. Yet, while we often associate quiet times with the terms “discipline” and “devotion,” one must ask: how often do we associate quiet times with the word “discipleship?” Simply put, when was the last time you referred to the hour you spent reading your Bible and praying to God as the hour of the day when Christ was discipling you? That we don’t refer to quiet times as times of discipleship may be a result of our forgetting that the quiet time was meant to be a time in which two parties – not one – are present: you and God.

But the quiet time should be viewed one’s time of discipleship with the Lord because, simply put, that’s exactly what it is. Discipleship involved two parties – the discipler and the disciplee. The quality of the discipleship, then, depends on both – not just one – of them. The discipleship will not take place when one party is absent. The quiet time for the Christian, similarly, involved two parties – himself and God. For during those times, God is present with you and you alone – comforting you, convicting you, encouraging you, and teaching you to conform more like His Son through the power of His Spirit. The Word of God is in fact living and active, not dead and static. Consider this change in perspective: It’s not so much about what you’re reading as it is what He’s saying. It’s not so much about what you’re learning, as much as it is about what He’s teaching you. It’s not so much about your spending time with Him as much as it is His spending time with you. Let’s humbly face the reality that the quality of our quiet times depends not on our personal discipline and resolve as much as it depends on God’s faithfulness to opening up our hearts and inclining them to understand His Word. It’s not about our works as it is about His grace. It’s not so much about how we have focused our hearts on God as much as it is how He has inclined our hearts to want to listen to His Word. Thus, instead of asking yourself, “what did I read today,” ask yourself, “what did He tell me today, through His word?” Instead of asking, “how have I been praying,” start asking yourself, “how has God been answering my prayers?” View your reading Genesis as the time when God is reminding you of how things came to be. View your reading Proverbs as the time when God is imparting His wisdom onto you. View your time in 1 Peter as God’s letter to you to remain steadfast through times of affliction and persecution.

To conclude, I’m not denying the reality of personal commitment and faithfulness in cultivating a quiet time. But I am advocating a change in perspective for many of us – including myself. It’s time to start seeing this “hub” of the Christian life as a time of discipleship between God and you. Acknowledge Him. Revere Him. Depend on Him.

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The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.

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