The processor in my Apple Watch is rated at 520 MHz. By comparison, the Apollo 11 computer ran at 0.043 MHz. I don’t really know what those numbers mean, but it would seem that my watch’s technology is significantly superior to the technology that took men to the moon.
Not only is my Apple Watch smarter than their computers—it’s smarter than its owner. It can ask Google anything, tell me the time in cities all over the world, access news instantly, play millions of songs, and do all sorts of other things I cannot do.
Here’s something else it can do that I cannot: it can run all day on a single charge. I connect it to its charger each day after my morning walk and it’s good to go until the next morning. My soul, on the other hand, needs to stay “plugged in” to my power source. Constantly.
This is where I have had to undo theology that formed my spiritual life for many years.
What’s wrong with a “quiet time”?
When I was in high school, our youth minister impressed on me the need for a daily “quiet time” to begin the day. He taught us to start each day by reading God’s word, praying, worshiping, and otherwise connecting with our Lord.
This is a biblical and urgent discipline, to be sure. Jesus began his day this way (Mark 1:35), as did many other biblical heroes and spiritual leaders across history.
However, here’s the downside of the “quiet time” strategy: we can think that once we have spent this time with God, we’re done for the day. To be clear: my youth minister certainly never taught us such heresy. No one would espouse it. But we live in a culture that separates the secular from the spiritual, Sunday from Monday, religion from the “real world.” It’s therefore culturally tempting to compartmentalize our day into “God times” and “other times,” to think that once we’ve met with him at the start of the day we’re good for the day.
In essence, we can “charge” our souls in the way I charge my Apple Watch and think we’ll run all day.
But we won’t.
Your soul is a gas-powered car
The Bible teaches us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) because we need to “pray without ceasing.”
Remember the electric saws that you had to connect to a power outlet to use? You wouldn’t plug one into a socket, start cutting wood, and then unplug the saw. You had to keep it connected to the energy it was designed to use.
Another analogy would be gas-powered vs. electric cars. The former must stay connected to the gasoline they use as their energy source—if their fuel pump, filters, or lines become clogged, the car will not run. An electric car, by contrast, can be charged and then unplugged—in fact, you wouldn’t try to drive it while it is connected to its source.
Our souls are the former, not the latter. We need the constant power of the Spirit to help us resist temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13), know what to say when given the opportunity (Luke 12:12), and otherwise be led into “all truth” (John 16:13).
What you can do apart from Jesus
If you began your day with God today, I want to commend you. If you did not, I want to encourage you to begin tomorrow with your Lord. But either way, I want to help you avoid the mistake I made for years: confusing a time with God for a dependent relationship with him.
He can lead only those who will follow. He will manifest his “fruit” in our lives to the degree that we stay connected to him (Galatians 5:22–23). Jesus was clear: “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, my emphasis).
Would Jesus say you are abiding in his Spirit right now?