“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Matthew 6:5-6
Yesterday during devotional time with my kids, the book we are studying out loud together stated “God has probably used a particular verse of Scripture to speak to you at some time during this course…” The moment I read those words, I was convicted of the fact that although it has been a wonderful thing to do a bible study out loud with my children, they are now old enough to be spending an allotted amount of time with the Lord themselves. They not only need to spend time alone with the Lord each day, but they also need a special place which is set aside for that purpose in our home, a quiet place.
Setting aside a quiet place for myself over the years has changed with my seasons of life. At one point I had my books next to my bed and I would spend time in the scriptures either before I feel asleep or first thing when I woke up in the morning. Other times, like when we had to be mobile, my bible, journal, and devotional books were kept in a bag so they could go with me wherever I needed to be – it was for a season also and I was always able to find a place to go and open my bag and seek the Lord. More recently my books have had a place on a shelf in the kitchen so I could study at the kitchen table in the morning with a cup of coffee to sip while I had my time with the Lord.
No matter where life has taken me since I became a believer, there has always been a quiet place set aside for me to go and seek God. I cherish that place of respite and renewal each day and I know for each of my children, going away to such a place is necessary as they progress in going from sharing a faith in God with me to making their faith their own - a personal and vibrant faith in God which will withstand the storms they are bound to face in their futures.
So I let the energy of the moment spur me onto spending the better part of my free time yesterday gathering various bibles, devotional books (of all levels of reading), bible resource books, pens, paper, notebooks, book marks, baskets, and even a candle. The space was easy to set up and when it was finished I had a discussion with my kids about the struggle our human nature has with developing a new habit. We talked about the multiple weeks it was going to take to make this time away with God comfortable and even remotely rewarding. I reminded them they would be disciplining themselves as they developed this new habit and it would take a lot of work on both of our parts. Finally, I reminded them of their need for this habit and I was not to be seen as the enemy in holding them accountable, but rather when they were reminded of taking time to sit before the Lord they were not to complain but instead be thankful for the reminder.
Right now I am just asking them to set aside 5 minutes each day. I do not want them to get discouraged since right now they are just in the process of developing the habit of stealing away some time with God. Over time, as my children start to see the rewards that come from this time set apart with God, I know they too will yearn for it more and more and will then chose on their own to stay and fellowship with God longer than I ask of them. But for right now I just need to keep reminding them and myself that we are laying the groundwork for a lifelong habit. It also helps me as the parent to remember that there is nothing I can do to spur on my children’s love for the Lord beyond sharing my faith with them, praying for them, and providing them with the resources and time they need to seek God on their own. God alone can capture their hearts and it is in Him and His timing I must rely for the fruit to be brought forth from this discipline I am training into my children.
Maybe you too are in need a quiet place for either you or your children to steal away with God. I would suggest you take the time today to equip a quiet place in your home with things you have on hand, it doesn’t need to be fancy just there for you to use. Jesus commanded that we take time away to pray and seek the Father – that is our part of the relationship and it would be wise for all of us to obey that command. On the other hand, Jesus also promises that if we do take that time to steal away with the Father we will be rewarded. That reward is the fruit I rest assured of that will come to anyone who takes the time to seek the Lord in a quiet place. And that reward I desire more than any other to come into the lives of each of my children.