Evangelical Christians have long talked about having a “quiet time.” A quiet time is an excellent thing, and I hope you have made a commitment to have a regular quiet time this year. But my question is:
What are you going to do in that time?
In the past, what Evangelicals meant when they talked about having a quiet time was a regular time of Bible reading and prayer. Christians, rightly, through the centuries, believed that God speaks to us through the Bible and that we speak to him through prayer.
But as large parts of the church have drifted away from the Scriptures, many people have latched onto the idea that we can listen to God simply by being quiet.
It has become common among Christians to think that listening to God means being quiet and listening to our own hearts. But here’s the problem with that:
God says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8).
If you believe that you listen to God by listening to your own heart, then what have you done? You have put your own heart in the place of God. If you make an idol of your heart, that will inevitably lead to a life of following the impulses of your own heart.
And who knows where that will lead you?
John’s Gospel does not say, “In the beginning were our hearts, and our hearts were with God, and our hearts were God.” It says,
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…The Word became flesh, and he has made the Father known. (John 1:1, 18)
That is why the Bible says that the “entrance” of God’s Word gives light (Psa. 119:130, KJV). We do not have entrance to God through any other way, except the Word of God. You won’t get to know God by reflecting on your own thoughts and feelings on the sofa with some Christian music on in the background. You listen to God with an open Bible!
If you want to keep a journal of your own thoughts and feelings, by all means do so. But be clear about what it is — a journal of your own thoughts and feelings! Write this on the first page so you don’t forget it:
This is a journal of my own thoughts and feelings. These will change over time. They are of no eternal significance!
Then if you are keen on journaling, go buy a second journal, and use it to write down what God is teaching you from the Bible. Write down on the front page of that one,
This is what I am learning from the Word of God. God’s Word is truth. It abides forever. Those who trust in him will never be put to shame.
Do you listen to God with an open Bible?
- Five Steps to Meditating on the Bible
- You’ve Already Heard God’s Voice
- The Trouble with Listening to Ourselves