What does it cost to maintain the practice of withdrawal from the activeness and busyness of the world and from the presence of other people for the purpose of spiritual renewal? It will cost time. Some would prefer to hear any other word. They would rather pay in any other kind of currency; but for some reason God has required that it would take time to know Him and to become conscious of His presence and to live in His power.
Many hundreds of Christians have taken up this challenge—to spend the first thirty minutes of every day for a month alone with God and His truth, and then to determine at the end of that month whether it has interfered with their working efficiency.
I have yet to hear of one who has given it a fair test who reports that his practice has interfered with or diminished the output of his regular work. On the contrary, many have said that the practice has meant more to them than any one habit they had ever formed.
It would hardly seem necessary to defend such a habit. It takes time to detach ourselves from other people and from our work. Two to four minutes spent reading a chapter of the Bible is not sufficient. It takes longer for a man to detach himself from what he has been doing and what he needs to do next. It takes time for fires to kindle and burn. Psychologically, it takes time to let the truth find a man so it lays powerful hold on him. It takes time to receive deep impressions on the soul.
I am sending a plea for deliberation in our spiritual exercises as contrasted with haste. It is not a form I am pleading for. It is the reality. It is to spend enough time, it does not matter how long it takes, to commune with God. Some men have schooled themselves to make this contact and preserve it in less time than others. It is the reality of actual communication with God and of actual appropriation of His truth at stated times each day that we need. It means enough time to forget the clock—enough time to forget time.
You ask me, how much time? I do not know. I know it means enough time to forget the clock; I know it means enough time to meet God and hear His voice, and to be sure we hear it. We are not pleading for a form, but for a reality. We are not pleading that you may be able to say that you have spent your thirty or forty minutes each day in Bible study and prayer, but for you rather to be able to say: “I make conditions favorable for God to speak to me, and for me to hear His voice. Each day I meet Him I have personal connection with Him. I am not the same. It is a reality.”
God help us to take time to be holy! Let it be the best time of the day. It is our most valuable employment. Let us not crowd it into the corner.
If Christ found it necessary and desirable to spend time unhurriedly alone with the Heavenly Father, can you and I afford to take the risk of doing without this life-expanding practice? God forbid that we should!