Last week, I set out on Monday morning with a simple, but thorough plan. Each morning, I would wake up exactly one hour earlier to spend quiet time with God by reading some from the Bible and praying through the requests in my prayer notebook and from church. It went very well on Monday. On Tuesday, I went to church to hear two Scripture meditations written by Richard Sibbes. By Wednesday, I was exhausted. Even though I was getting to bed extraordinarily early (8:30 or 9 pm), it was a shock to my system to get up before dawn. On Saturday I caught up on sleep and then spent time more leisurely in prayer and Bible study throughout the day. I concluded that I should rework my worship plan for the following week.
I did find that by putting more of my anticipation toward the Bible and less on my internet activity, I felt more clear-headed and less cluttered, bogged down, and heavy-laden. I do think it should have been obvious to me that the internet has become an idol over the past ten years. I used to get up really early just to check my email and begin the process of writing out very long responses. I thought about my livejournal responses during breaks at work, ate very quickly just to hop online, and spent nearly all my waking hours on the computer. During college, I never turned my computer off except on holidays when I went away from campus. The computer has stolen my time, attention, devotion, care, and hope for countless hours. I'm not saying that all that time was wrong, but it sure was misproportioned.
The past two weeks, I've spent more evenings without the laptop. I've put some of that freed time toward reading godly books, sleeping, praying, and reading Ezekiel. It's been very refreshing.
My original quiet time plan allocated the morning time to worship for a couple of reasons. First, I thought it would be good to start off the day on the right foot. Second, it's a quiet time of the day around the neighborhood. Third, I used to do this in the past. Fourth, I had no other activities occurring in the morning, so it seemed to be an "untainted" time that wouldn't get entangled with anything else.
Well, mornings were not really ideal. But in reviewing my reasons for choosing mornings in the first place, I found a problem. The problem rests in this idea that mornings would be free from "other complicating stuff." I shouldn't feel that my life is full of entangling, complicating stuff. It's not the quiet time that needs to be quarantined but the "other stuff" needs to be addressed. I've started that process by recognizing and repenting of my idolizing of internet/computer activity. I plan to continue to spend time online, but not to set all my hopes on it. I need to keep my eyes fixed on Christ, not my inbox. I decided that I should seek to spend time in the Bible and in prayer before hopping online or launching into other evening activities. The reasoning is that by putting spiritual food and drink first, that I will be well-nourished and level-headed during the course of all those other activities and thus able to enjoy them more.
Mornings: Read from Psalms. Write notes and verses that strike me. Write one specific focus application from the study. Pray based on this Psalm.
Monday, Thursday evenings and Saturday sometime: Read from Ezekiel with no accompanying formal study. Pray for others.
Tuesday evenings: Attend small group.
Wednesday evenings: Attend 1-to-1 or church Bible study.
Friday evenings: Attend community group study if being held that week.
Sundays: worship with the body.
Suspend Scripture memorization till a habitual quiet time has been established.