We’re currently in the middle of an excellent campaign by the Bible Society of Australia, Live light in 25 words. The idea is to read one Bible verse — averaging 25 words — during each day of this month, as a way of kick-starting a lifetime Bible-reading habit. The idea is to start small and make reading manageable, and they’ve provided a range of great resources to assist that. A whole stack of people are doing it at our church, and there are more than 2500 churches involved around Australia.
The campaign is a launch pad for ongoing Bible reading, so I want to take this opportunity to explore how we might do exactly that.
But first, there’s a challenge in our way: the traditional Protestant practice known as Quiet Time.
Quiet Time — ‘personal devotions’ or ‘time with God’ — is a way of Bible reading that typically involves:
- Being private, silent, and introspective
- Bible verses
- The printed page
For us Protestant Christians, this set of expectations is like a gene in our DNA. It’s an internal message that says Quiet Time is the best way to read the Bible — and, perhaps, that you haven’t really started reading the Bible until you’re doing Quiet Time. When we ask one another, ‘How’s your Bible reading going?’ it’s often Quiet Time that we’re referring to.
(Quiet Time can be a good servant but a cruel master. Sometimes, the Quiet Time gene says that Quiet Time is essential to godly living. If you’ve been feeling guilty about Quiet Time, please talk with someone about it. This article might also be helpful.)
In this series of posts, over the next few days, we’re going to deconstruct Quiet Time and explore some angles that you might find more helpful.
Now, I’m not saying that we should just relax and care less about Bible reading — far from it. Connecting with the Bible is part of the wellspring of Christian practice. It’s a good thing to have a Bible reading habit, and it’s a good thing to be disciplined about. It’s just that there might be more than one way to go about that. Quiet Time is not the only way to read the Bible.
But I’m also saying that Bible reading should be easier than we make it. The Quiet Time approach has real limitations, and each aspect of it can be unhelpful and burdensome. Quiet Time might not be the best way for you or me to read the Bible.
What I’m asking is how we can be more fruitful in engaging with the Bible — based on the nature of Christian community, the nature of our own personalities, and the nature of the Bible itself.
What’s been your experience of Quiet Time?
Arthur Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.