We asked Dane Ortlund how to guard against our quiet times becoming and empty habit or meaningless ritual.
Hello and welcome to another edition of UP, the Union Podcast. I’m Dan Hames, and this week I’m speaking each day to Dane Ortlund. Dane is the Senior VP of Bible Publishing at Crossway, and so we’re getting his thoughts on reading the Bible and its place in the Christian life.
Dane, last time we spoke you talked about Bible reading as part of our communion with God. We evangelicals are famous for emphasizing daily devotions, or the quiet time–those things can sometimes be an empty habit for us, or just a ritual. How can I stop my quiet time from being legalistic?
Right. Well, to be sure, it’s easy to make a new law out of this thing that we call daily devotion. I’ve certainly done that in the past. But, the first thing I want to say, Dan, is that I just don’t know how else to live in health and in sanity other than carving out that time to do that, to be with God in an unhurried way. We live at such a fast pace, with so many screens in front of us incessantly- you and I have one in front of us right now, so many distractions, so much haste–so how do we enjoy a living communion with the Triune God without carving out deliberate space to be quiet before him in an unhurried way. I find that if I’m passive about that, instead of proactive, then Facebook, and blogs, and CNN, and a thousand other worthy things will crowd that out. Jesus withdrew to be alone with God. Do we need anything less?
I think that the key here, Dan, is to work this rhythm and routine and discipline into our lives under the banner of grace. If we make devotions a new law, then we’re going to eviscerate the very heart of what we’re doing. If we think that having devotions, spending that time, strengthens God’s hug on us, and if we think missing devotions, even a little bit, weakens God’s hug of us, then we will train ourselves to resent that discipline. But if we remember afresh each day that God’s favor and affection for messy me is undentable, invincible, and unrepealable, the soil of our hearts will loosen up enough to let communion and growth slowly blossom.
So let’s read our Bible each day under the banner of God’s grace to us in Jesus. Thanks, Dane. For more from Dane Ortlund, tune in again to UP, the Union Podcast.
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