I have been known recently to criticize the “quiet time.” Evangelicals for decades have stressed this importance of time alone with God. The message goes like this: Do you want to learn about God, hear his voice, discern His will for your life? Do you want to be spiritually healthy? Have a daily quiet time. There’s nothing essentially wrong with that message. It is what we are not saying that is the issue.
First of all, Christian masters for centuries have been saying that God and God’s will for our lives can and must be found in quiet AND in situations and conversations, and counsel, and mostly in living out our callings in everyday life. Second, Christian masters for millennia have suggested that union or intimacy with God is often found in the ordinary turned extraordinary by those who have eyes to see. After all, if you want to get close to God, try going to the places of society where he likes to hang out: among the poor, with the persecuted, inside the margins of our communities. It is true that God is with us in the comfort of our cluttered homes. Yes, God can speak to us there. But our pride can too often convince us that we are communing with God when we are just reading about him and hearing voices in our head.
Caretto says about solitude:
But the same way is not for everybody. And if you cannot go into the desert, you must nonetheless, “make some desert” in your life. Every now and then leaving men and looking for solitude to restore, in prolonged silence and prayer, is the stuff of your soul. This is the meaning of “the desert in your spiritual life.” One hour a day, one day a month, eight days a year, for longer if necessary, you must leave everybody and retire, alone with God.
The quiet time is nice, but utilized as the sole, pressure filled way to God, can be outright unhealthy. Live the robust spiritual life that is devoid of real pressure. With it you will learn to love silence and solitude and begin to see this world afresh, your iniquity, and God’s abundant presence and love in this place.