Replacing the Terms “Quiet Time” and “Daily Devotions”

Alright, I’m just gonna say it: I am calling all Christians to, henceforth, abandon the terminology “quiet time” and “daily devotion” and replace them with a description that better captures what we’re actually doing when read our Bibles and pray each day.  That’s a bit dramatic, I know, so take those words with a grain of salt while at the same time thinking along with me of how we can better term the daily time we set apart for God.  Here are a few reasons why I think we need to replace these terms:

  • “Quiet time” assumes that the time we spend with God each day will be relatively silent.  I think if we can find time to spend with God without noise, we should; it helps guard us from distraction so we can focus on Christ.  But, there are many Christians that find this extremely difficult… for good reason.  I think of mothers of young children who have their little ones constantly shattering the silence with their… well… kid-ness.  Or some of the teenagers and college students (living at home) who have big families and can hardly find a moment that isn’t shot through with racket.  This term can put unnecessary pressure on such people and make them feel as if their time in God’s Word and prayer isn’t quite cutting it.
  • Both “quiet time” and “daily devotion” are terms that aren’t clear to people who have been outside the local church for the past 20-30 years.
  • Both terms fail to capture the goal of a daily time of reading God’s Word and praying.  The goal is to commune or fellowship with God as he speaks to us through the Bible and we speak to him through prayer.  The point of these times is to know God, draw near to him, and enjoy him.  It’s not about simply acquiring more knowledge about God or checking another responsibility off our to-do list.  David exemplifies the spirit of what these times should be when he says, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).
So, what are some better terms we could use?  I understand that no single term or phrase can include every aspect of our daily time with God, but here are some other options.  I think the last one is best.
  • Time alone with God – this is what Jerry Bridges likes to say.  It’s good, but I think we can do a bit better.
  • Meeting with God – “meeting” may sound to you a bit like a bunch of executives sitting in a board room in some high-rise downtown, so can we focus in a little more?
  • Fellowship with God – The word “fellowship” instead of “meeting” captures the relational nature of our time with God.
  • Fellowship with God through the Word and prayer – This phrase may be somewhat long for you, but I like to add “through the Word and prayer” because while fellowshipping with God through watching the sunrise is great, it’s not as important as fellowshipping with him through his revealed Word and responding to it in prayer.

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About Brent Osterberg

Ransomed sinner, husband to Keri, father to the kiddos three, associate pastor at Calvary Bible Church in Fort Worth, TX, and lover of most things epic. View all posts by Brent Osterberg

2 responses to “Replacing the Terms “Quiet Time” and “Daily Devotions”

  • joshuajmasters

    I especially agree with your comment about people outside the church understanding our terminology. We, as Christians, must be careful with our language. Since the primary mission of the church is to reach the lost, we must be careful about the language we use. A missionary doesn’t go into Papa New Guinea expecting a village or tribe to understand English. As missionaries to our neighbors, we should be careful not to expect non-believers to understand Christianese.

  • the {not so} quiet time companion «

    […] as a mother of small children: Quiet Times for Desperate Mothers (Raising Homemakers) and Replacing the Terms “Quiet Time” or “Daily Devotion” (From Pew to Practice). And an idea began to take […]

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