A “quiet time” is simply being intentional about having a conversation with God. This usually means listening for God’s voice by reading the Bible or devotions, and speaking to God through prayer. Jesus did this numerous times in the Gospels, sometimes slipping away all night or in the early morning, to spend time with his Father.
Here are some well respected reading plans that can help you plan this time, they all come with mobile optimised options so you can even take them with you as you travel to work.
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‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls’ (Matthew 11:28,29).
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
17 I appointed watchmen over you and said,
‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’
But you said, ‘We will not listen.’
18 Therefore hear, you nations;
you who are witnesses,
observe what will happen to them.
19 Hear, you earth:
I am bringing disaster on this people,
the fruit of their schemes,
because they have not listened to my words
and have rejected my law.
20 What do I care about incense from Sheba
or sweet calamus from a distant land?
Your burnt offerings are not acceptable;
your sacrifices do not please me.”
In 627 bc, when Jeremiah had been a prophet for five years, the Book of the Law was discovered in the Temple (2 Kings 22). This book was probably Deuteronomy, which, as we read here, repeatedly calls people to walk in God’s ways and not turn aside from his path. There are warnings aplenty too in Deuteronomy, not unlike the warning in these verses for unfaithfulness.
In this context, the people’s stubbornness is all the more shocking – they will not listen to his word (v 17) and they will not walk in his ways (v 16). All that the discovery of the Book of the Law and Josiah’s reforms served to do was to highlight just how far the people of Judah had fallen from God’s path. Yet they continued with their religious rituals (v 20).
It’s sobering to remember that we too can go through the motions of Christian worship and community, yet all the while our hearts are far from God, or there is some area in our lives where we allow sin to reign.Angus Moyes
Is there an area of your life that you know you should submit to God, but you persistently ignore the conviction of the Spirit? Do something about it now.
Verse 16 provides another reminder that Jeremiah knows that the door of opportunity for Judah to enter the future that God wants for them is still open just a crack. Through the door is the right path, the ‘good way’. It is an interesting concept to think of a walk providing ‘rest for your souls’: it seems a bit energetic! Walking by ’still waters’ and ‘green pastures’ (Ps 23) sounds restful to me, fitting with my experience of walking over recent days past spring flowers, down the canal path and past lovely blossoms in the park. It certainly made me more ready to face the day’s demands. Why would anyone turn that opportunity down? One can almost feel the sadness in Jeremiah’s voice, and in God’s heart, as he records their response. ‘We will not walk’ that way.
There is nothing wrong with having good resources for our worship rooms, but sometimes we need the reminder of verse 20 that God does not really care whether the décor is just right; whether we have the most up-to-date electronic equipment; whether we hold up one arm, two arms or none; whether we keep our eyes open or shut when we pray; whether we sit down, stand up or kneel; or any of the other things that sometimes seem so important to us. He simply wants us to go through the open door and walk down the good path. Micah tells us that it is not massive, expensive, sacrifices that God is looking for, but he wants us ‘to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly’ with him (Mic 6:8). Fasting of all kinds can be really helpful, but Isaiah reminds us that the kind of fasting God likes best involves us to ‘loose the chains of injustice’ and ‘set the oppressed free’ (Isa 58:6).
A pathway can be reassuring to the walker. It says to us: you are travelling on an established route. Others have walked here before so you need not be afraid – you are on your way somewhere.
Even if the path we’re on reduces to a rough track heavily fringed with undergrowth there is a sense that if we keep to it we should emerge somewhere recognisable. This is not to say that the old paths necessarily feel safe to travel. They may involve us in pushing through overgrown bushes and there are times when the route may carry us beneath canopies of branches and into ominous darkness.
We may be tempted to leave the path because the way ahead seems to wind off in a way that our internal navigation system feels is not the most direct route, and so we give in and try to take a shortcut. We charge off the path through the bracken and into the woods in the hope of stepping out again onto a track that might be closer to our destination. Sometimes this works out…
The journey you are on through life, does it feel like one that is taking you along well worn paths or has it taken you down some dead-ends from which you wish you could retrace your footsteps?
Whether established or pioneering, do you like the path you’re on now? What’s the terrain like? Does the way ahead of you seem like a well-trodden Roman road, cutting a straight path through the landscape all the way to the horizon, or do you feel like a lone pedestrian dodging the traffic, trying to find your way on a busy interchange?
How confident are you of reaching your destination? Perhaps you’re at a crossroads – how will you decide which path to take?
Jesus said, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6). How confident are you that the way you are going is God’s will for you?
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