GUILT… It’s What’s For Church

Ever since I was young tyke going to various churches, I heard a phrase that was crammed so far into my skull that I believed it to be absolute truth as if it was carved right into a third tablet.  Even into my adult years I would still feel the pressure from this guilt-inducing saying. 

I would hear from the pulpit and from the laity… Christians MUST set aside “Quiet Time”!

I was successfully indoctrinated that a “quiet time” or personal devotional time was mandatory in the life of a committed Christian.

Quiet time?  What in the world is that, and who came up with this crap.  I was taught that God will bless me if I read my bible every day, as if the act of reading the scriptures was some kind of mystical hazing ritual where we would gain power over God to get His blessings and favors.  Well, I am going to say this so-called belief that God gives us grace as a reward for our consistent devotions is antithetical to what Jesus Christ Himself is all about. 

This ridiculous Jesus jargon must stop.  This is one saying that down right irks my ass.  Prayer and bible study are completely different from what the “institutional” church has been calling “quiet time” for centuries.   

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. 

I find it quite ironic that “quiet time” has become a huge cause of defeat among many Christians I have met.  There were many times over the past 10 years as I attended church that I felt a deep sense of failure, and attached with that a huge feeling of guilt and shame because I went a few days without reading my bible. 

On top of that came another layer of guilt to lay on even thicker.  There was added guilt of not just HOW you should be doing your “quiet time” every day, but WHEN you should be doing it.  I heard many times that the only “true” time for “quiet time” was as soon as you wake up first thing in the morning.  So to add even more BS to the saying, why not add the principle of “first fruits” to the mix.  So, if I would not pray or read the bible when I woke up I would feel like shit during the day because I missed the optimum opportunity to read and pray.  Double guilt.. that’s awesome!

Please do not take this post to say we should never pray or read our bibles.  We should do both, and do it together out of our love for each other and Christ.  We just do not need to be doing it the way the institutional church teaches…. a must to be rewarded as a committed Christian.  I cannot find anywhere in scripture that we as believers are “commanded” to have “quiet time”… so stop teaching it as such.

As you can tell, I have been a tad irritated by the phrase “quiet time”, and many other phrases the “church” pumps out each week.  But, I do not have a problem with others using it to describe what they do on a daily basis.  If a person wants to do that every day, so be it.  I just do not think it is a commandment like it is taught. 

Anyone out there know where I am coming from?    

I am a committed Christian and I have not read my bible in weeks.  Bet that statement makes a few Christians vomit.  Oh yeah, another phrase to add the BS list … “how many people did you “witness” to this week?”… ahhh don’t get me started…

14 thoughts on “GUILT… It’s What’s For Church

  1. This may come as a shock to you. I have been told frequently in some of these institutional churches to relax and not force. Just take some time and read the Scripture, when YOU are able. I’ve been told by friends at my church that Christianity is not a “TO DO” list.

    Otherwise, I like your style. I’ll check around and see what else you may be saying. 🙂

    1. Barry – Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Welcome!

      Hope you find what I have to say in other posts interesting. Good to hear that people are not being pushed into a “to do” list for church.

  2. Wow. That is very familiar. When I was still in the Institution drinking the koolaid, I tried really hard to fit that – read 8 chapters a day, prayed first thing before I even got out of bed…..then I left the church. And after a while, I quit reading the Bible – for 18 months. I read it now when I have a question or am prompted to look something specific up….and talking to God has become much more relaxed and more like a relationship than a duty.

    1. Katherine – I am with you. My reading habits have changed dramatically too, and now I am also much more relaxed. I guess it is better to read you bible less 🙂

      1. Katherine – I am with ya on that one. I do not look at scripture as a to do book and a set of rules. I read it to reveal His Son. The whole entire book is written to reveal Him to us. He is the Word. I do not need to read it everyday to know that.

        Take care

  3. I have been struggling with this lately myself… I used to be very rigid in my morning routine of prayer and Bible reading (oh, and journaling of course). I don’t know where the idea of “quiet time” originated from in my life and I don’t think the idea of quiet time is a bad thing at all; but we as humanity (and Christians) seem to have this marvelous ability to legalize things. I would feel guilty, as you say, if I didn’t follow my rigid outline to prayer; I’d feel horrible if I didn’t read my chapter for the day. After a long, long while, I began to realize that I wasn’t being sincere… I’d rush through my prayer saying the things I felt I was required to say and hastily jot thoughts in my journal, just so I could get on with my day. And recently, I just stopped, just completely stopped for several days. And I tried something new: I tried being spontaneous and sincere. I didn’t follow an outlined prayer, I said what was one my point–I was specifically brief. I’d read just a few verses and really concentrate on them instead of speeding through as much as I could. And it felt so much more…honest. I don’t think I have everything figured out yet. But I think sincerity is a good place to start. Thanks for your thoughts.

  4. David E – Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving some thoughts. Welcome!

    Legalism is not a good thing, but the freedom I have felt since I tossed all that BS to the side of the road is amazing. It is great to live for Christ guilt free!

    Take care.

  5. I sympathize with Dave, about treating “quiet time” as a rigid system. It is precisely where I was, years ago. I can still recall being told that I expected to pray for 3 hours. Ugh! At the time, I could barely pray 10 minutes and I was too embarrassed to admit it.

    Thankfully, God helped me to learn that prayer is simply talking with him. It was not a ritual designed to impress Him. Just talk. It doesn’t matter when or how long. When I left that one church which does warrant Swarmey’s disdain; I found a couple where I learned the real truth about prayer. In time, I learned the value of being quiet and just listen.

  6. Barry – You and Dave went through what I went through for years. Isn’t it a shame that we would even remotely feel embarrassed about such stupid things. The pressures within the walls of the institution are paramount. Well now that we can see a bit more clearly it takes away these so-called rituals. Take care Brother.

  7. In Surprised by Joy, CS Lewis writes that one of the reason he left Christianity and became an Atheist early in life was because he couldn’t live up to the standards of Christianity, specifically in the areas of daily prayer and Bible reading. When such practices become the standard by which people’s spiritual maturity is judged, many people just bail on the whole thing.

  8. Jeremy – I can totally see someone just giving up. That saddens me greatly. Any time the Body is splintered for such stupid reasons it saddens me.

    Take care brother.

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