Why Your Quiet Time Isn’t Working

I often receive emails from folks wanting to improve their daily quiet time with the Lord.

Some have questions about deepening their hunger for spiritual things (ie they aren’t motivated to read their Bibles but want to be) while others don’t know where to start and need some tips.

But the most common concern has to do with getting more out of one’s daily time with the Lord.

We often know time with God is essential and we want to meet with Him to power up for the day … but after spending some time in prayer and scripture reading, we leave our time dry and unchanged. Unstirred. Unconnected with our Savior.

While I don’t believe every morning meeting with God needs to be accompanied with lightening bolts from heaven, I am a firm believer that we should leave our time with the Lord nourished and built up in Him.

Scripture is full of this kind of talk. We must adequately eat at the table of grace, gathering enough manna to sustain us each day. We need to daily connect with the Vine, be enriched, and filled up to the fullness of God.

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Below are three keys I’ve learned for getting the most from my time with the Lord.

{These have come from decades of walking with the Lord. I encourage you to read them (don’t skim!) because I’m confident they will improve your time with the Lord as well!}

1. Better Quiet Time Tip #1: Understand your goal: Deep, Wide, or Abide?


It took me a long time to understand there’s a difference between “quiet time” “Bible study” and “Bible reading.” These commonly used terms are thrown around interchangeably but they aren’t the same at all!  Each is totally different with completely different objectives.

For example, the goal of Bible study is to dive deep into God’s word. It generally involves a smaller portion of scripture with the goal of accurately understanding, interpreting, and applying scripture.  We all need to be students of the Scriptures. We need to schedule regular chunks of time to go deep into a shorter passage of God’s word.

Resource Recommendation: Two of my favorite tools for learning how to study your Bible are Lord, Teach Me to Study the Bible in 28 Days by Kay Arthur; and Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods: 12 Ways You Can Unlock God’s Word


Likewise, we need times for Bible reading. Bible reading is different in that it allow us to cover larger portions of the Bible in one sitting and get an overview of entire books. Without regular Bible reading, we’d never actually read through the entire Bible~ hey, it’s a big book! The aim of Bible reading is to go wide rather than deep.


Resource Recommendation: My all time favorite Bible reading plan is the One Year Daily Bible. There are several different versions available that I love. For me, using these Bibles has provided the structure needed to read through the Bible in a year. I’ve used them for many years now and am forever grateful to my momma who gave me my very first one when I was a senior in high school!


Of course God speaks to us through both these methods and both should be regular spiritual disciplines. I personally try to read a larger portion of Scripture (the Daily Bible) every day and reserve a nice chunk of time at least once a week for deeper Bible study.

However, neither of these (Bible study nor Bible reading) is what I focus on first each morning when I get up to meet with the Lord. The first and foremost aim of meeting with the Lord each morning is to CONNECT or commune with Christ.

John 15:5 says,  

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”



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For a long time I would jump straight into reading the Bible, even spending an hour reading and praying, only to leave my time with the Lord unmoved and unchanged. I’d be SO disappointed and not know why it happened or what to do about it.

Finally, I got really clear on my goal. 

Actually, I got really desperate. That desperation led to clarity. I realized what I most wanted out of my morning meeting with the Lord was connection with Him. That’s it.

I wanted most for Him to quicken my spirit anew.

I wanted the word of Christ to dwell in me richly, and in a fresh way. Yesterday’s manna was gone; I need it fresh every day! I want Him to fill me with Living Water. I want to plug into the Vine and stay there all day. I want to connect with Jesus!

And you know what? Once I got super clear on what I wanted out of my morning time with the Lord, figuring out what to do became simple!

Here’s the deal… If you don’t know what you are aiming for, you’ll likely miss it.

Want to get more from your daily quiet time? Here's what you most need to know...

The target for my daily morning time is to connect with Christ.

It isn’t to study the Bible, read large chunks, or gain knowledge. It isn’t to pray for the hundreds of things on my prayer list. It is simply and only to re-connect with the Vine and bring myself to a place of abiding in Him.

2. Better Quiet Time Tip#2 : Have a proven plan


Once you get clear on your goal, you need a clear, proven plan that helps you accomplish that goal.

The plan for connecting with Christ will vary from person to person but can include a number of spiritual disciplines and practices such as journaling, singing a song or two, reading a favorite short passage, renewing your mind with the promises of God, or praying a simple prayer such as, “Lord, I’m empty and poor in spirit. I need You to quicken me and meet me here. I’m asking for Your Living Water based on Your promises in John 4.”

It may take trying a few different things to see what aids you best. One of the things I like to do first is a brain dump. It seems I need to get a bunch of “stuff” out of my head before I can focus on the good “stuff.” :)

At the bottom of this post you can see a few of the tools I use for connecting with Christ in the morning.

Do you long for more from your quiet time? Here are three tips I'm learned over many years of walking with the Lord for how to get more "meat" from your time with the Lord.


3. Better Quiet Time Tip #3: Give yourself adequate time!


When my morning time is a flop, the most common reason is because I failed to give myself adequate time to commune with Christ.

Nourishing yourself in the Lord not only takes intentionality, it also takes time. Contrary to popular belief, this is not something you can rush through in the morning. Five minutes doesn’t cut it.

You need sufficient time to clear your mind. Hear from the Lord. Meditate on His word. Interact with His spirit. Determine what needs to happen in your life and make wise choices to move forward.

This takes time. It simply cannot be rushed.

I understand there are seasons in life that are much, much more difficult to manage this kind of time with the Lord. But remember, Jesus often went to a solitary place and it was often at night when everyone else was sleeping.  We just need to know that this is our bread, our water, our life… and while fasting can be done for short periods, you can’t fast long before you begin to deteriorate!

To have an unrushed time with the Lord in the morning means I must get up early enough in the morning to have it… and that takes great intentionality.

As Crystal Paine says, “A successful day begins the night before.”

I’ll be honest… I really struggle with this. It seems like there’s always something in the evenings to distract me from what I should be doing- getting to bed! And I always pay for it the next morning.

It’s just not worth it!

Do your evenings need a makeover? Check out the brand new Make Over Your Evenings course by Crystal Paine!

I found Crystal Paine’s course, Make Over Your Evenings, extremely practical and useful in establishing an evening routine.

This course helped me:

1. Clearly identify what to STOP doing so I could ensure my morning time doesn’t get crowded out

2. Identify my self-sabotaging character flaws and

3. Better streamline my evenings and strategically plan for the next day.

Hint: It’s easier than you think!

If late, chaotic evenings are a reason your mornings are messy, check out Crystal’s 14-Day Make Over Your Evenings course. It’s practical and packed with encouragement.

The fact of the matter is, each of us is responsible for our own walk with God.

We can’t blame it on the kids or the hubs or the situation we are in or circumstances or anything else. Until we own it and take steps to do what’s necessary, we can’t expect different results.

The good news is that when we do what it takes to adequately renew our minds and spirits in the word and the presence of God, our entire day is transformed! We are strengthened. We are filled with joy. We are confident, girded, guarded, and strong in spiritual truth. We are fully equipped for whatever we may face that day.

Getting to that state each and every day takes intentionality. It takes structure. And it takes adequate time.

What changes do you need to make to ensure it happens? I encourage you to take action and make that change TODAY! As you already know, it’s so worth it.

Favorite Resources I Use:

Daily Bible

Praying the Promises Prayer Journal


Make Over Your Evenings course



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  1. I really enjoyed your first point about the differences in ways to approach the word. It’s so true that those terms are used interchangeably but have such different meanings. I had never thought of that! Thank you for this post and encouraging me to examine my morning time with the Lord and decide what needs to change.

  2. Wow, I love this. I never thought about clarifying my goal, but mine is also #3. In fact I got into a time-consuming. Bible study that sucked the life out of my quiet time until I slowed it down. Thanks for making this more clear. I probably need to schedule Bible study for, say, 2 days a week. Delighted to share this.

  3. I love this. I just started the Make Over Your Evenings course and I have been through her Make Over Your Mornings course. I can’t wait to get my routines reorganized so I can give myself the time I need to really spend alone with the Lord in the mornings. Thank you for the wonderful encouragement!

  4. In fact, this article was meant for me. There has been a running battle trying to get my quiet time right. I think i am one of those people who mix quiet time with Bible reading and all the rest. I set BIBLE reading objectives at the beginning of the year and always try to stick to it even at the risk of not really having quality time with the Lord. Most times, am just trying to read 3 chapters or pray for everybody, that I don’t have time to really sit down with the Lord. But recently, I developed a kind of hunger, just wanting more, more of His presence, just being there, quiet in the silence, with my heart speaking a thousand words. I just really want to lay at his feet, listening, just emptying up . Most of those times I don’t say much or do much, yet I feel more filled and fulfilled. But i end up feeling guilty for not reading all the chapters I scheduled, or praying for everyone. I end up feeling selfish even, as if I spent the whole time for myself alone. Reading this article made me understand what has been happening. I connect with the Lord but I feel all other “traditional duties” suffered. Now I understand that I simply need to reschedule my time. Abiding is what I want. Not just me talking, or reading chapters so fast to keep up, or praying for everyone but being in touch with the Saviour in a way words cannot explain. I just have to find a way to get those other things done without making my quality time with the Lord suffer. So sorry this is longer than it was meant to be. Thank you so much. Am so blessed.

    1. I loved, loved reading this!! You get it! Connection is so very vital and sadly enough, we can let unspoken expectations crowd that out. Thanks for sharing this.

  5. This was so good. Thank you for the encouragement. I like how you spelled out the differences between the three that really helps me to be able to explain it better to my children, and encourage me to connect with the Lord.

  6. These are some great thoughts, and I also had not necessarily thought about clarifying my goal of my morning quiet time. For me, I find that I want to accomplish a combination of the Bible study as well as Connection. I LOVE journaling, so this is often part of my time, and it helps me to slow down and appreciate what God might be wanting me to hear. It’s also my preferred method of prayer, so it helps me to connect with God in that way. Thanks for these tips!

  7. This was PERFECT timing! Just today the Lord put it on my heart that we are so spiritually malnourished from being in a fallen world of sin that we can’t afford to miss a single meal of the Bread of Life. Our physical bodies can go much longer than our Spiritual without substance.
    I ABSOLUTELY LOOOOVE your following statement! A big A-MEN!
    “We can’t blame it on the kids or the hubs or the situation we are in or circumstances or anything else. Until we own it and take steps to do what’s necessary, we can’t expect different results.”

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