It’s a well-known fact that strong relationships can’t be forged without quality time spent together. To that end, “quiet time”—a space carved out for prayer, reading, reflection, and bonding with God—is often considered to be one of the best methods of spiritual grounding. This time allows Christians to get away from the chaos of day-to-day life, to center and refocus on the things of God. This often involves a dedicated time to pray and read the Bible, speak in tongues, wait to hear the voice of the Lord, etc.

But for a lot of people—myself included—“quiet time” often just becomes a different kind of “chaos time.” In the stillness, thoughts take over; we become easily distracted and find that while our bodies may be at forced rest, our minds are still going at a mile a minute in the wrong direction.

If you’re one of many who finds “quiet” time to be a lot more chaotic than you’d like, here are a few methods that might be helpful to grounding your mind in the “here and now!”

Read Something OTHER Than the Bible
This idea is an immediate turnoff for some people. The notion of quiet time not involving Bible time—or being devoted to something other than a direct mainline to God—just doesn’t jive for them. But I can speak from experience that sometimes, reading Scripture alone during quite time isn’t enough to engage my head. On the other hand, reading someone else’s perspective on a spiritual matter can provide fresh and refreshing enlightenment. It’s worth noting that there are tons of valuable resources with good, godly messages that can be enriching to one’s spiritual walk. In other words, while the Bible should be the main source of our spiritual food, it does not have to be our only source! God has gifted many people with abundant wisdom to speak on plethora of topics. If there’s a certain subject that’s been on your heart, consider picking up a book by a Christian author that covers that subject from a spiritual perspective. This might open the door for you to learn something new during your quiet time.

Go for a Walk
Although there’s something comforting about having a place of solitude—like a screened porch, or a favorite chair—to curl up in for quiet time, occasionally these places are almost too comforting. In other words, you might start to nod off. During Christian camps I attended as a teen, one of the things they encouraged during the hour of mandatory quiet time each day was that we walk around the campgrounds. A lot of people found this helpful, as without their headphones in and without their bodies relaxed in a state of rest, they felt revitalized and energetic. Praying became easier, especially as they took in the beauty of God’s creation. So if you’re feeling bored and sleepy with the same surroundings during your quiet time, consider hitting the sidewalks, a nature path, or your streets—and connecting with God out in His creation.

Have a drink
No, not that kind of drink.
There may be some biochemical reason for this…maybe not. But in my experience, settling in for quiet time has always adopted a sort of special, calming edge when I’ve done it with a cup of coffee or tea in my hand. Something about that action—as if you’re sitting down with a friend at a café—can add a level of intimacy to the experience of meeting with God that might be absent otherwise. If you’re in need of a soothing, warm aesthetic to help center your mind as you start your quiet time, consider brewing a fresh cup of coffee, hot chocolate, or tea beforehand. 

Write Down Your Thoughts
Much like during a silent prayer session, our minds tend to wander during quiet time—which is how we end up with those hectic thoughts I mentioned earlier. One way to eliminate this possibility is to write down what you’re thinking. This is a tactic that authors call a “stream of consciousness,” where you just jot down whatever comes to mind without trying to make it sound poetic or eloquent. I’m reluctant to call this “journaling,” as that term has adopted a certain aura of spiritual self-help over the years. Simply having a notebook where you write down and organize your thoughts can help you to arrange them, deal with them…and also catch when they’re straying off-road. In a similar vein, writing down your prayers while in quiet time, or any other time, can help you to notice if you’re straying from “praying” to just “thinking.”

Pray a Conversation
I saved the best for last, because this has always been my favorite thing to do during quiet time—something I’d get far away from everyone else to do at those camps I mentioned. Praying a conversation isn’t quite as esoteric as it sounds; literally, it’s just conversing out loud with God. While this eliminates the truly “quiet” part of quiet time, it does have its merits. Like jotting down your thoughts, it helps keep you focused on what you’re saying, how you’re saying it, and what the heart is behind it. You can catch if you’re snarling or pleading, if your voice is cracking with emotion or steady with praise. In my experience, talking to God out loud also helps me to eliminate the sort of stiff, overly-religious flavor from my words. If I’m hearing myself talk, I start to sound more like me…I present myself to God as I am, with no Christian-speak, no pretentious catchphrases, and no wandering thoughts. This is a type of prayer I recommend that everyone try at least once!

Ultimately, there is no “formula” for quiet time. It can look however you want—or need—it to. But if you find yourself stuck or searching for a way to enhance, change, or even just start your ritual of quiet time, we hope these five tactics will help you to experience the closeness with God that you’re looking for!