Heidi Howerton: Today we are excited to continue our study of Going Deeper with God—how we can develop a relationship with the Lord and hear from him from his Word, and in prayer, and through scripture meditation. As we’ve been talking so far, we’ve talked about spending time in God’s Word, why we want to be women that study the Word, how we can read the Bible every day, nd we’ve also talked about Scripture meditation, choosing one verse to camp on to say to ourselves in the morning and in the evening and when we lie down and when we go out,—a verse where the Lord can speak to us.
What is an “extended quiet time”? 1:05
Heidi: So today I am excited to discuss an extended quiet time. Jani , I know that you have taught about extended quiet times in your discipleship group for years. Tell me what is an extended quiet time?
Jani Ortlund: Oh, thank you. Heidi. An extended quiet time is a planned period—I would say of at least two hours, maybe more if you can find it—where you set aside everything else to meet with the Lord. I find that in my day to day life I’m able to meet with the Lord pretty regularly, but oftentimes it’s short or it leaves me wanting more. Do you ever find that for yourself?
Jani: I do. Sometimes, I feel, especially with my children, rushed in my quiet times every day. I’m able to get my Bible reading for the day done, I’m able to pray, but it always feels rushed to me—like I’m trying to get through the passage quickly because I only have a certain amount of time.
Jani: Yes. I remember when I was in your stage. I had three little children and a very dear friend by the name of Charlene Wurtz and I would trade children every Tuesday morning. We asked each other to hold ourselves accountable to have a longer quiet time with the Lord on those mornings. So when she would have my kids—I’d drop them off at 9:00—I’d go somewhere and from 9:30-11:30, she would hold me accountable to do nothing other than meet with the Lord. I couldn’t stop by the grocery store on the way. We didn’t have cell phones then, but I couldn’t work at my computer or write a letter or anything else! I was just to meet with the Lord. Then the next Tuesday I would keep her kids and she would have a longer time with the Lord. And we did that for an extended period of time, maybe several months.
Jani: During this time of raising our young children, I knew at least twice a month I would be in the Word for a more relaxed period of time, just being able to linger there. What I found was that during those two hours, I had a chance to go deeper. My soul had a chance to absorb more, as Proverbs 2:4 says, to seek his word “like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures.” Otherwise in my regular times I would be doing my reading and I would pray. But often, as happens with you, now, with your little ones, you can get interrupted. So I want to encourage our listeners to think about having an extended quiet time with the Lord.
How often do you try to do this? 3:49
Heidi: Well, let me ask you one quick question. How long, Jani, if you started that, when your children were little, how many years have you been setting aside time to have an extended quiet time and how often do you do this?
Jani: Well, our children are in there 40’s—our three older ones are. So maybe 40 years or so. And what I try to do now is have at least one extended quiet time every three months. Every season of the year I try to set specific time aside to go deeper with the Lord. There will be times my soul is troubled and I need to spend longer time. Perhaps we’re facing a big decision.
Jani: Before we started this podcast, Heidi, I took an extended quiet time to seek the Lord and he gave me Psalm 40 to work through, think through, meditate on. That was so helpful! So I don’t make it a rigid pattern, but at least four times a year.
What do those 2 hours look like? 4:57
Heidi: Can you now paint the picture for our listeners of what an extended time looks like? Why do we have an extended quiet time and what do we do with those two hours?
Jani: Yes. That’s a good question because it’s hard to envision when you haven’t heard what it is.
Find a quiet place
Jani: I would encourage our listeners to find a quiet place, perhaps away from their computer and phone. Sometimes I’ll go to a restaurant and just ask the waitress for a table in the corner and promise her a good tip and say, “I just need a place to sit for two hours and you don’t need to bring me fresh cups of tea, but I’ll just be here for two hours.” And then of course tip her accordingly.
Jani: Or sometimes I go to the library. Do people go to libraries anymore? I don’t hear of it that often, but I would go to the library and just find a quiet table to sit at. Sometimes if the weather’s nice, I like to go outside, bring a blanket or something to drink and sit in a wonderful quiet place to meet with the Lord.
Jani: On occasion, I’ve even gone, if the weather’s poor or it’s wintertime, I’ll go to a hotel lobby and they don’t mind at all. They like to have their hotel lobby busy. I just find a place to sit where I won’t be distracted by people coming and going. I try to sit across from where I’m not going to look at the traffic coming in and out to the front desk.
Jani: Sometimes your church will be open. You can call ahead and say, “I just need to spend some time with the Lord. Could I sit in our sanctuary for a couple hours tomorrow morning or afternoon?”
Jani: So find a place that’s a little bit unusual. If you’re going to do it at your home, there can be distractions—you want to be careful.
Plan a time
Heidi: And I would add for the moms listening who have little children, sometimes for me it takes a little bit of extra planning. So I actually—even a month before I want to do my Sunday quiet times—(I like to do them at the change of the seasons, too) need to sit down with my husband Mike and say, “Mike, I’d really love to spend two hours with the Lord. How can we fit this in our schedule?” Planning that ahead of time instead of the week of I found blesses our family. I would bet that so many of you sometimes feel guilty for asking your husband for time away. And yet I have found my husband, and some of my friends’ husbands, as we do this say, “Yes! You want to go spend time with the Lord? I would love to bless you with that!” It’s sweet to have that conversation and to figure out when is best, but to be kind to him, too, to find out when is a good time for you, or when is a good time for our whole family, for me to schedule this and not just trying to fit it in when I see best, but also getting his input.
Jani: That’s so good, Heidi. I really think that’s so smart because your husband, if he knows the Lord, wants to encourage you, in this way. If you have his cooperation and it’s on the calendar, you’ll tend to to get it done. Otherwise it hangs out there as a wonderful idea.
What do you bring with you? 8:14
Jani: Well, what should you bring with you when you are going to meet with the Lord? What do you bring with you for your extended quiet times, Heidi?
Heidi: I always bring my Bible. I often have my prayer journal too, which we’re going to talk about in later episodes. Jani introduced a certain way of studying God’s Word and praying with a certain tool that I’ve used. And so I’ll bring my prayer journal with me and pray through that. I often love to just have a notebook with me as well. I love to journal, but I often don’t have time to journal when I do my daily quiet times. So an extended quiet time is a nice moment to sit and journal. I try to leave my phone away—like off and the notifications off and on silent mode. But I also love to sit and listen to worship music and so if I can find a way to get the other distractions off from my phone and put my headphones in and just sit as I start my extended quiet time and sit in the Lord’s presence and listen to to a worship song or an old hymn and let that speak to me as I get started. What do you bring with you?
Jani: Oh, that’s such a good idea to listen to music on your phone. I bring very much the same things as you—my Bible, my notebook, a good pen. I usually bring something to drink as well. And then I try to bring some other aids, like a study Bible. Sometimes I will bring a hymn book. Do people have hymn books anymore, Heidi?
Heidi: Yes! We do, but my mother-in-law bought them for me. I never would’ve thought to buy a hymn book on my own. But I love our hymn books.
Jani: Yes, I love to look through the hymns. They’re often, arranged according to topics. So if I’m studying something about guidance, you can find some different hymns, like ” Savior, like a Shepherd Lead Us, Much We Need Thy Tender Care.” Even if I don’t know the tune, the words are so beautifully written, that helps me as well. So those are some of the things you can bring with you.
Jani: As Heidi and I have said, we encourage you to leave your cell phone on silent if at all possible. Those of you with little children, your husband might want to be able to reach you. We understand that.
What do you DO during your extended quiet time? 10:28
Jani: Now let’s talk for minute about things you can do during your extended quiet time.
Catch up on your Bible reading plan
Jani: Well, sometimes I just like to catch up on my Bible reading. Heidi, you know that I read through the Bible each year. You do, too, and on occasion it’s a wonderful chance to catch up a little bit, if I’ve gotten behind.
Dive more deeply into a passage
New Speaker: Or I can go more deeply into a passage that has raised some questions in my mind. I can study it more. “Lord, what are you saying here? I’ve read this, but it’s raised more questions than it’s answered, and I just long for some of those questions to be answered.”
Jani: Another thing that my extended quiet time allows me to do is have a more leisurely time of prayer, where it’s not just me speaking, but it’s more me listening. “Lord, speak to me, talk to me, come to me” and there’s more of a chance for fellowship and communing with the Lord.
Remind yourself of His benefits!
Jani: Sometimes I like to open my Bible to Proverbs 2:1-11 and meditate on all the benefits of being in his Word. Oh, that’s a wonderful passage of Scripture. We’ll have to talk about that during one of our podcasts.
Ask searching questions & listen
Jani: One of the things that Brother Lawrence says in his wonderful book, The Practice of the Presence of God, is this, “Retire to the deepest part of your soul.” I love that because in the day to day grind, I don’t have time to go deep into my soul. We’ve talked about this before, on this podcast, that our whole goal is the restoration of our souls through the renewing mercies of Christ. We want our souls to be renewed, refreshed, restored, and one of the ways we do this is through our extended quiet times. So I need to go down deep into the smallest part of me, those unexplored regions of my inner heart.
Jani: And when I have time before the Lord to go down there and ask searching questions, the Lord communes with me in intimacy and peace. I get to tell him what he means to me and I get to listen to him and let him love me in ways that I can’t often experience in my normal day-to-day quiet times. I can be silent and just let God speak to me in the silence. All the chatter of my daily life can just be quieted.
Do a word-study
Jani: Sometimes during my extended quiet time, I’ll bring a concordance. I was recently meditating on a verse in Colossians 4:17, “See to it that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord Jesus.” And so I did a study on the word fulfill. What does that mean? What does it look like for me to fulfill the ministry that I have received?
Review your goals and priorities
Jani: Sometimes I want to reorient myself to my goals or my schedule. Am I feeling overwhelmed with my schedule? Is there something that needs to go? Have I made a goal for this year? How am I doing on it? What do I need to tweak in my daily life in order to meet that goal?
Write a letter to God
Jani: Sometimes I like to write out a letter to God and just put down in black and white how I’m doing with the Lord, what I’m asking of him and how I love him and how I feel and sense his love for me. And then I seal it and put it away until my next extended quiet time. Then I open it up and read it there and I’m full of praise for all that he’s done.
Identify scripture to meditate on
Jani: One other thing I’ll mention and we’ll do some more podcasts on this, is I like to take that time to think through what verses I’m going to meditate on during this season and what passage of Scripture I want to memorize. That’s a good time to say, “Lord, what are these next few months going to look like? What do I need from you?”
Pour out my whole heart…and listen
Jani: Heidi, what about you? What do you do in your extended quiet times that might be a little bit different or could add some color and flavor to what I’ve shared?
Heidi: Yeah. I am trying to think in addition to what you’ve mentioned…If there’s something that my heart is struggling with, if there’s a sin that I’ve been battling, or even in seasons of suffering—something I don’t understand, God is allowing something to happen in my life and I don’t quite get it. Let me give you guys an example.
Heidi: We are getting ready to move to 18 acres out in the country next week. When you guys are listening to this, the Howardtons will probably already be on the farm. While I’m excited and I’m eager to go with my husband because this has been a dream of his, there has been a part of my heart that is struggling with this move. And I’m scared and I think in my day-to-day quiet times, I don’t have a lot of time to pour that out before the Lord and say, “Lord, I’m so scared.” Or I feel like there’s a part of my heart that’s resenting this and I don’t want that to be in there.
Heidi: So just this past week I did an extended quiet time and I took time to pour out my heart before God. These are the sins that I’m struggling with. These are things that I feel in my heart that I know are wrong, but it’s how I feel and I don’t know how to kind of get to the other side. “How do I get rid of this fear, Lord?” I love having an extended quiet time. It gives me a chance to pour out my whole heart before him and lay it all out and then to be quiet for a long time and listen to him. And I find that in those extended quiet times, the Lord meets me like no other and really gives me wisdom and gives him an opportunity to work on my heart and let me hear his voice and let me hear him talk to me and guide me like a shepherd.
Heidi: I have found so much encouragement even in this one little example. I left feeling so refreshed and encouraged by God and I felt his love pour on me and him kind of take my hand and help me through that. Also when I had cancer, I remember doing an extended quiet time. Sometimes, Jani, I feel like it’s a wrestling with the Lord. I think of Jacob in the Old Testament and there’s one point that the angel of God comes down and they wrestle together and Jacob says something like, “Don’t leave me until you bless me.” And I feel like, especially when I have sin or when there’s something that the Lord is allowing to happen in my life that I don’t understand, it’s just an opportunity to wrestle with God and say, “God, my heart is bitter and this is so hard and I do not understand, but you are good and your love is steadfast. And so wrestle with me. Work this through with me. Come close to me and lead me to the other side. My heart wants to trust you.” And I just love extended quiet times because they’re an opportunity to really be quiet before God and to spend that time together. God never once in my life has not shown up in that moment and and helped me walk through.
Jani: That’s beautiful.
Jani: You’ve told me sometimes during your extended quiet time, you look ahead as well as thinking about personal sins and wanting to have communion with the Lord. Talk to us a little bit about how you use your extended quiet time to look ahead.
Heidi: Yes. I’d love to. When I do my quarterly extended quiet times, I like to think about what are some things, Lord, that you would want me to work on over these next three months? In my relationship with you, in my marriage and with my children? Lord, what are some ways that I can show my children more love? What are things I want to do in their lives that I’m not doing right now?
Jani: That’s wonderful. Oh, dear listener, I hope that the Lord has whetted your appetite to spend an extended time with him. Maybe this week you can plan out a time in your calendar for a two-hour quiet time with the Lord. If you do, let us know how it goes. Thanks for listening today. The Lord bless you.