Saving ‘The Quiet Time’

Posted on May 2, 2024 
Filed under Encouragement, Resources

Joshua Bovis at St. John’s Tamworth shares this message he wrote for his parish newsletter. We hope you will find it an encouragement to read and pray:

Saving ‘The Quiet Time’

I was introduced to the practice known as ‘The Quiet Time’ not long after I became a Christian. As someone whom has not been given the gift of silence by our Heavenly Father, (still working at it), quiet times were not often practiced. Turns out ‘The Quiet Time’ refers to the practice of spending time alone with God in prayer and in His Word. Yet over time, I had noticed that although the term ‘quiet time’ does not appear in the Holy Scriptures, these two seemingly benign words on their own often engender enormous guilt in the Christian’s life.

Of course, we all know (and should know) that time with God in prayer and His Word is vital, and we are all cognisant of the blessings and benefits that will entail.

Yet I have met so many of God’s people when I ask them how they are going when it comes to prayer and the Word, a common response is one of discouragement and guilt, with the added embellishments such as:

“I don’t know what to read”; “I cannot seem to get into the rhythm”; “I run out of things to pray for”; and there is the big one,

“I don’t have the time!

Being an Anglican vicar, the context of which I asked this question is an Anglican one. Yet what I find interesting and rather sad is that so many Christians (who attend Anglican churches) are unaware of a practice that I have found to be so helpful in my own life, and that is the practice known as The Daily Office.

So what is the Daily Office? 

The Daily Office or Divine Office, to put it simply, is a time during the day where Christians pray and read the Bible.

It is based on the ancient practice of prescribed daily times of prayer. The name comes from the Latin officium divinum meaning “divine office” or “divine duty.” Although it seems that liturgy is not in vogue or used by many parishes, the Prayer Book has a daily service in the morning and evening for this very purpose, (in fact did you know that the Book of Common Prayer prescribes this practice for clergy?) These services are accompanied by daily Scripture readings which include a reading from the Psalms, Old Testament, the New Testament, and a Gospel reading. The Daily Office includes prayers for morning and evening. 

The late J.I Packer stated:

“None of us will ever find a better pattern for private prayer and Bible-reading anywhere than that offered by the Prayer Book’s own daily offices.”

God’s people who struggle with their ‘quiet times’ need to struggle no longer, there is a great resource available to be used, if only they were made aware of it.

I was first introduced to the Daily Office when I was an ordination candidate in the Newcastle Diocese. Although I was an Anglican Christian, I had not even heard of this practice let alone engaged it in. So at first I found it to be foreign, dull, repetitive and pedestrian. But after doing it every morning and every evening with my supervising Rector, I realised that my prayer life and Bible reading was changing.  My relationship with my Heavenly Father was deepening. No longer was I dependent on how I felt on any given day when it came to pray. Time was no longer an issue as it was a scheduled non-negotiable part of my day.

Many years ago at a Clergy Conference in another diocese I heard it said that human beings are repetitive. Think about the hand you use when you talk on your mobile phone. Have you ever tried using your other hand? Or your other ear? It feels wrong doesn’t it? It is the same when you brush your teeth with your other hand. It feels wrong. With exceptions of course, generally there is no biological reason why we cannot use the phone in the alternate hand/ear. It is because we are creatures of habit. We all have rituals, and routines, and a place where we put things (as the saying goes, “a place for everything and everything in its place).

This is why I find the Daily Office such a helpful thing. It gives me the rhythm and routine that I am made for and at the same time makes prayer and the word part of that rhythm and routine.

The  Daily Office is also helpful in that sooner or later when the day will come when you will not be able to pray in your own strength. On that day the liturgy will pray for you.  There have been times and are times when I simply did not and do not have the words to pray.

What do you need?

• A set time – this way, the Daily Office will become part of your routine, your life rhythm, and before you know it will become a time that you look forward to.

• A place – your study,  the chapel in your church, or somewhere nice and quiet, indoors or outdoors.

• A Bible – For me I use the ESV. It has been my norm for ages.

• A Prayer Book – for me it is mainly the BCP 2019 , though for years I used the original and  best (BCP 1662).

• A Smartphone or iPad – this may seem like a weird thing to recommend but along with the BCP 2019, ACNA (The Anglican Church in North America) has produced an excellent App called The Daily Office. I find this app to be brilliant. It contains the Morning and Evening Prayer Services with the Collects (special prayer for the week) for every day of the year. It even has what is known as Compline (which is a service one uses before lights out for the night It even has a Midday Prayer (which I love to do each day). The Bible Translation is from the ESV (which is what we use here at St John’s) and the Psalter are the Miles Coverdale Version, which utilises English beautifully.

Anything else?

No. That is it. Just go for it. Take your time, enjoy God enjoy his Word, and abide with Christ. You may be sceptical, you be tempted to think what I think about the sport section in the Sydney Morning Herald, “Oh how dull”, but if you are struggling with your quiet times, it is certainly worth giving the Daily Office a go. Up until recently Anglican Christians have been doing it for a very long time. And before you know it, the next time your Vicar or anyone else asks you, “How is your quiet time going”?, you can smile and give an answer that is encouraging (and will give cause to give thanks and praise to God!)