This is the first in a 3-part series:
- Quiet Time 1: Importance of Quiet Time with God
- Quiet Time 2: Should we follow a fixed structure?
- Quiet Time 3: Elements of a Quiet Time
Watch the video or read the transcript...
Hi this is Ross Paterson here, and I want to give you a short 10 minute sharing on the Quiet Time.
This will be a series; this is the first talk that I'm going to do.
Now, I am going to address three questions, let me describe the questions and then kind of jump into the middle one.
- What is a Quiet Time?
- What does that have to do with Cross Cultural Mission?
- What is the Problem?
Quick aside: What does that have to do with Cross Cultural Mission?
Well, can I dive into the second one very briefly first?
Imagine, you're going to meet your boss. It's a really important interview, and for some reason you're going to meet outside. If you have a car, the car really needs to be looking good. So, you polish and shine the car and get in the car, turn the key and you realize that you forgot to put in petrol (gas) and didn't fuel the car. It's not going to move. You would then miss the interview with your boss because you were so busy with something less important, that you forgot the most important thing - that a car runs on fuel.
That's exactly why the Quiet Time - the time of the Lord - has everything to do with cross cultural mission and is important for Christian Missionaries. A really good brother who was working with us in China ministry said to me, "Ross, I need to go home."
I said "Why?"
He said, "Well the pressure’s too great, I can't really hack it."
I said, "Well you need to spend time with the Lord. Set time aside with the Lord meet with the Lord. Quiet Time in other words, and get fuelled up."
And he said, "I do not know how to do that." And he went home. A promising service for the church in China finished, because he didn't know how to fuel himself with the Lord.
Another guy, a wonderful brother, who came to me, working in an Asian country, said "I don't think I can hack this, I need to go home."
What is a Quiet Time?
What is the Quiet Time? Matthew 14:22-27 "Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side. While he sent the multitudes away. And when he sent the multitudes away he went on the mountain by himself to pray. Now when evening came he was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea tossed by the winds, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went to them walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were troubled, saying it is a ghost and they cried out in fear. But immediately, Jesus spoke to them saying, ‘Be of good cheer! It is I, do not be afraid.’”
Now Jesus and the disciples were all at the supernatural meeting that took place before the boat trip. Jesus sent the multitudes away when his job was done. He didn't bask in the praise of people but sent the disciples away and went on the mountain by himself to pray.
Jesus spent time with the Father and had his Quiet Time. The disciples didn't, they jumped in the boat, "Hey, we're fishermen we know how this works."
Guess what? Jesus heard from the Father that he was needed to rescue the disciples. Jesus was empowered to walk on the water. Jesus knew what the Father was doing, because he said elsewhere, "I never do anything, except the Father tells me".
One writer (Word For Today) said, "Jesus dismissed the crowd of disciples and fans, in order to spend time with his Father in prayer. As a result, when he returned to the crowd, he was empowered to work miracles."
And then he gives an interesting illustration. “Think about it, before an airliner takes off, the attendant tells you, that if the plane gets into trouble, you should secure your own oxygen mask before attempting to help others with theirs. After all, unless you're getting enough oxygen how can you help them? So I trust it's clear now, what this has to do with cross cultural mission.”
What does that have to do with Cross Cultural Mission?
Of course it has to do with absolutely everything that we do. Any kind of service in a local church whatever. But it's critical for cross cultural mission, because when we work cross culturally, the sociologists and psychiatrists will tell you that we function under greater pressure than those who live in their own culture.
When you're out of your culture, so many things are a mystery and a pressure: Greater loneliness, greater pressure, greater attacks sometimes and so on.
Selwyn Hughes emphasizing this point said this, "The Quiet Time is where the soul grows receptive. Where prayer becomes a place of healing, an oasis of peace, where the touch of his presence becomes as real and as dramatic as the touch of the woman on the hem of Jesus’ garment. Where peace flows into our turbulence, where love resolves our resentments, where joy heals our griefs and where we enter into the present process of being known.”
The Quiet Time shuts us in with God. The door closes upon us and then infinite resources flood into our soul. The door opens and we move out with an increased awareness of God, ready to face a world that knows so little about him. There is as we've said, great benefit in stillness but when we meet with God in the stillness. Ah, what then?”
The Problem of Legalism
Why do we need to talk about this? What is the problem? Well Selwyn Hughes outlines two problems. One is legalism. First, there is a reaction to the legalism of past days. Selwyn Hughes said that at one time most disciples were told that the life of discipleship turned on whether or not they’ve established a daily Quiet Time. And you must never waver from it.
“In my youth someone who said, I heard one Bible teacher saying ‘If you don't begin every day by reading a chapter of the Bible and spending at least 30 minutes in prayer, you have no right to go into the day expecting God to bless it.’"
Selwyn Hughes commented, “I don't believe that's true,” and I don't either. That is legalism.
There are many reasons why it might be impossible to begin every day with a Quiet Time. God wants to meet with us and bless us whatever our morning routine. God wants to bless us even when we're too busy occasionally to have a Quiet Time. God isn't a legalist.
But there's an opposite which I'm calling an "overly casual approach". Selwyn Hughes says "However in turning from the legalism of the past," (This is addressing, to be honest, many younger listeners, but not exclusively.)
The other extreme: Being overly casual
"However in turning from the legalism of the past, many have replaced it with a more casual approach to personal devotions. If they don't feel like it. they don't find a time to be with God. And that," Selwyn Hughes said, "I suggest is as risky as the legalism from which they've turned away." It's dangerous to say, "Hey if I feel the Holy Spirit is moving me, I'll spend time with God."
The problem is when you most need to spend time with God, you may not hear the Holy Spirit. So those are the two extremes.
I'm going to close this talk with a quote from John Wesley, “It is for your life. There is no other way, else you will be a trifler all your days."
Now John Wesley, in his day along with John Whitfield changed England. John Wesley set up, at that time, the Methodist Church, which was one of the purest and most successful and anointed in soul-winning churches the world. John Wesley also did cross-cultural work, going to America and so on. And here he's saying, whether you like it or not whether you feel like it or not, read and read the Bible and pray daily.
That's an interesting comment addressing this issue of legalism, an overly "随便" approach (casual as the Chinese would say).
So put the fuel in your car, or you'll miss the appointment. Spend time with the Lord, be refreshed in your loneliness, in the attacks against you, in discouragement in failure, spend time with the Lord.
I'm going to carry on digging into this. This is just the first one, an introduction.
“Lord help me make it a habit of a lifetime to spend time each day with you. Remind me to make this approach a priority Father. Amen.”
Thank you, and we'll be back soon with Part 2: Should we follow a fixed structure?.
If you enjoyed reading this Quiet Time resource for Christian Missionaries, then check out our courses on courses.fieldpartner.org
God Bless You.