One month ago today one of my most beloved mentors passed away. Though I never had the honor of meeting her in person, Elisabeth Elliot was an amazing woman of faith and a mentor to thousands of women through her wonderful books. Her many books and her life’s testimony have been pivotal in the shaping of my life. If you are unfamiliar with her and her writings I highly recommend reading one or two (or ten) of her books in addition to this sample of her writing included in this post.
It is hard to narrow down what to share of her wisdom in one little post, but this devotion from her book “Keep a Quiet Heart” about how to have a quiet time really resonated with me when I read it recently. One of the best practices for self-care I have found is consistent time with the Lord in prayer and resting with Him. Mrs. Elliot captures so simply the practical practices of a quiet time and communicates so much depth in so few words. This one little devotion so perfectly captures everything so many readers love about her writing.
“Having a quiet time with the Lord every day is absolutely essential if you expect to grow spiritually. But you have to plan it. It won’t “just happen.” We’re all much too busy. Early morning is best, and there are plenty of scriptural precedents for that (Jesus rose “a great while before day”; the psalmist said, “In the morning shalt Thou hear my voice”).
If you meet the Lord before you meet anybody else, you’ll be “pointed in the right direction” for whatever comes. God knows how difficult it is for some to do this, and if you have a reason you can offer Him why early morning won’t work, I’m sure He’ll help you to find another time. Sometimes the children’s afternoon nap time can be quiet time for a mother. At any rate, plan the time. Make up your mind to stick with it. Make it short to begin with–fifteen minutes or so, perhaps. You’ll be surprised at how soon you’ll be wanting more.
Take a single book of the Bible. If you’re new at this, start with the Gospel of Mark. Pray, first, for the Holy Spirit’s teaching. Read a few verses, a paragraph, or a chapter. Then ask, What does this passage teach me about: (1) God, (2) Jesus Christ, (3) the Holy Spirit, (4) myself, (5) sins to confess or avoid, (6) commands to obey, (7) what Christian love is?
Keep a notebook. Write down some of your special prayer requests with the date. Record the answer when it comes. Note, also, some of the answers you’ve found to the above questions, or anything else you’ve learned. Tell your children, your spouse, your friends some of these things. That will help you to remember them. You’ll be amazed at what a difference a quiet time will make in your life.”
-Elisabeth Elliot in “Keep a Quiet Heart”
Given the challenge from Mrs. Elliot to be intentional in your quiet time, take a moment now to reflect, to pray, to give thanks. If a quiet time is a new practice for you, start with even five minutes each morning. As Mrs. Elliot found in her own life, scientific research is finding that even 30 seconds of focused prayer changes your brain, and 12 minutes a day of focused prayer over time changes your brain so significantly it shows up on a brain scan (learn more about prayer and our brains).
Mrs. Elliot notes how busy life can be, and she wrote this before the age of cell phones, the internet, and our connected all the time society. How much more so then do we need to be intentional to take time each day for a quiet time. The time may be harder to find, but the benefits are needed so much more now in our stress filled culture than ever before.
I think the best thing we can do to honor the life of Elisabeth Elliot is to be intentional and consistent in our quiet times. In all of her writings, her greatest insights came from her times with the Lord.
How did Mrs. Elliot’s life touch you? Which of her books is your favorite? Is there a favorite quote from her that has stuck with you? Feel free to comment below.