From time to time I hear pastors preach from, say, John 15, the vine and the branches, about the importance of continuous communion with Jesus, and contrast that with the practice of daily time with God. They will say something like, “Don’t just carve out 15 minutes to have a ‘quiet time,’ check it off, and then go about your day.” Or, “Don’t settle for a ‘quiet time’ when you can have moment-by-moment communion with God.” Sometimes this feels like the pastor is saying that we have a choice: a specific time designated for prayer and devotional scripture reading versus walking with God all day long.
I believe they go together. The people who walk with God are the people who also practice specific, private, spiritual disciplines like time with God, scripture memory, and bible study.
We know, for example, that playing scales is not the objective of piano practice. The objective is beautiful music, artfully executed. But one can’t do that without the training that comes, in part, from playing the scales. To change the metaphor, no one cares how much weight a football player can lift in the weight room, but without time in the weight room, the big plays on the field won’t happen. Legendary football coach Bear Bryant used to say, “You can’t live soft all week and play tough on Saturday.”
So don’t “settle for” daily time with God as only a spiritual discipline, but don’t neglect it either! Jesus lived in constant communion with The Father, but, “He often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer,” (Luke 5.16) and, after a busy day of ministry, “Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” (Mark 1.35)