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The Three Most Common Quiet Time Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

Want to be my hero? Feed me pumpkin scones.

Once upon a time, I was a barista when a girlfriend came into the coffee shop and ordered a pumpkin scone. “I’ve never had one!” I said, handing her the bag. She looked at me as if I said I’d never seen a pumpkin before. Later that day, I ate my first one on a lunch break. And I haven’t stopped since.

That was back in the day when pumpkin scones were available year-round. I should know – I ditched the traditional cake and ordered 300 of them for our Valentine’s Day wedding. The cake table transformed into the scone table:

I’ll never forget getting hit with the incredible smell of the hundreds of pumpkin scones piled high on that table the moment we walked into the reception hall.

Now? Pumpkin scones are only seasonal. And they have become a non-negotiable part of my fall routine. (I’ve already had two, and we aren’t even officially into fall yet!)

This morning, the second email in my series on getting back into a fall quiet-time routine went out to my newsletter subscribers. In it, I talked about the ONE mistake I’m consistently making in my quiet time (and it’s not forgetting to eat a scone). Because we can talk about curating your quiet-time-space and cultivating a habit – the tools to gather, the books to study, the prayers to pray. But before we do, it’s important to point out the pitfalls so that you can set yourself up for success.

In my email, I got real. Like, vulnerable real. I shared that after all these years of having a habitual quiet time, there is one thing that keeps happening. One mistake I keep making, over and over again:

I forget to sit in the silent stillness of the presence of God.

The moment I sit down, I start talking to God and writing my prayers. Reading, digging, taking notes, connecting dots, trying to cram as much in as I can before the babes begin to stir upstairs.

Sure, I’ve learned the art of waiting silently for God after our years-long waiting-journey, but sitting silently in His presence as part of my morning habit? Not so much. Please tell me I’m not alone.

In the email, I referenced Psalm 62:5, and dug into the title of the psalm. I looked at Jeduthun, a man whose name literally means “praising” and who likely had a perpetual song in his head. And I thought “if he can wait silently for God like David says there in verse five, I can too.”

But then, I read the rest of the verse:

My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.
(Psalm 62:5)

And I started thinking about two other common quiet time mistakes. Keep reading to discover what they are!

the three most common quiet time mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Quiet Time Mistake #1

Forgetting to sit in the silent stillness of the presence of God. (See above.)

The Solution: Commit to spending the first five minutes of your quiet time in silence before God – waiting to see what He has to say about your day before you launch into everything you have to say about it.

Quiet Time Mistake #2

Too much expectation of myself. It’s easy to set unrealistic quiet time goals for yourself without even realizing it: trying to read (and digest) too much in one sitting, never missing a morning, loving every single verse you ever read. Sound familiar? If you have subconsciously created these unrealistic expectations of yourself, you will easily become frustrated, your quiet times will feel like a chore, and you’ll probably quickly drop it like it’s hot.

The Solution: Slow down. Bite off precisely what you can chew, and don’t put any timeline on how long it will take to percolate. You could spend an entire month digging into one section of Scripture, and that’s ok. But most important? Give yourself grace.

Quiet Time Mistake #3

Not enough expectation of God. How’s that for a sucker-punch to your pride? Take a minute to think about it: when you open your Bible in the morning, do you honestly expect God to reveal Himself? Are you expecting a personal encounter with Him? Or are you just rushing through, trying to cram it all in before your time runs out? Do you see how it’s a cycle of mistakes? Forgetting to sit in some silence with Jesus leads to trying to do all of the things, which leads to expecting more out of yourself than God, which circles right back around to Mistake #1.

The Solution: Don’t expect God to show up, because He is omnipresent (see Psalm 139:7-12). Waiting for God to “show up” intimates that He’s left at some point and needs to return. Instead, expect Him to speak. Ask Him to reveal Himself, and take the words that James wrote literally: “Come close to God, and He will come close to you.” (James 4:8, AMPC, emphasis mine.) That is the best kind of expectation – the type based on a promise of God, and He always stays faithful to His Word (see Joshua 21:45).

So, let’s all pinky swear to commit our first five minutes tomorrow morning to sit in silence before Jesus, in high expectation of experiencing His presence. After all, it is the sweetest (even sweeter than next pumpkin scone that I can’t wait to get my hands on.)


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