The Quiet Hour
“Commune with your own heart… and be still.” (Psalm 4:4)
Have you learned the value of a quiet hour? It may not be an hour literally, of sixty minutes, but it is a season away from the rush and whirl of the day, when you may get your bearings and know where you are. We live in an age when everyone is in a hurry, and the girl of our homes does not escape the rush. From morning till night, week in and week out, her hands are full of work and play. If she is an ordinarily energetic girl, practically every moment will be taken up with something to do, somewhere to go, or someone to see.
When we work too long or too hard our bodies become weary. When we think or study or read too much our minds become tired, and when things do not go right, and all our efforts will not pull them straight, our spirits get worn. From all these wearinesses the quiet hour is a blessed balm.
If the body is tired, to step aside to a quiet place and find a comfortable chair or couch to stretch out our weary body and let it relax to the very toes and finger tips, and there to lie till the tangled nerves straighten, resting, simply resting, will bring back vigor and strength again. There are some simple secrets in resting the body that are well to remember. To lie down a few moments upon the back with every part of the body possible touching the couch, just as an infant relaxes to rest, and remain but ten minutes will refresh the body more than half an hour or more sitting in a chair, or lying curled up on a couch or bed. Learn to relax if you would rest.
When the mind is tired, let the books or problems be put aside, and go to the quiet room, or, better still, into the great outdoors, and there think only of those things that are pleasant and in tune with the quiet and peaceful surroundings. Soon the thickness will disappear and the feeling of stupidity give place to clear, active thinking, and you will be rested.
But the quiet hour is best for the wearied spirit. The girl gets into this spirit-weary condition more often than some suppose. Plans are broken or frustrated, work that is unpleasant and entirely undesirable has to be done, misunderstandings come between her and her mother or others, she is reproved or actually scolded—oh, there are many things to set a girl crosswise with the world about her! And if a girl is trying to do right and is endeavoring to follow Christ in her daily life, she will look with alarm at the surging thoughts and feelings that seem set to overwhelm her. Possibly in the pressure of vexations she has spoken harshly or imprudently, and that adds to her agitation. It is now that a little season in quietness will do her good.
Let her get away from everyone if possible, and the door shut so that she is entirely alone, and then have a sober talk with herself. Let her rest her body a bit if she needs it, and quiet her thoughts. There will be something in the very quietness of the place that will soothe her ruffled spirits. As soon as she is quieted, let her pray and then think quietly and soberly. Though everything seems in a turmoil at first, soon it will begin to calm down with her own spirits, and order will come out of chaos.
A wise mother will if possible provide opportunities for her children to be alone so that each one will learn how to fall back upon himself for counsel and entertainment. If little people, when they get all worked up and out of humor, were more often sent away to think it out by themselves, many a hard time could be passed smoothly. But now that the girl has come to older years, let her learn to be wise and have her quiet hour.
Those who would keep their spirits in rest and quietness should not wait till driven to seek rest and quiet from every vexation of spirit, but should make a practice of going aside and giving a portion of every day for going aside and giving a portion of every day for meditation, contemplation, and prayer.
Prayer is more than the saying of words with the body in a certain position. It is talking with God, telling him of your joys and hopes and desires, and receiving back His answer to your own heart, making you know the things that please Him. To meditate is to dwell in thought on any subject. The Christian gains much by meditating on the will and Word of God. Prayer and meditation go hand in hand.
Let me describe a quiet hour of mine which shines out from my girlhood with brightness as I am now writing.
It was at the end of a busy day. I was never strong, and the day’s work had made me tired, and its perplexities and annoyances had harassed me, so that I came to my quiet hour with a spirit somewhat troubled.
I sat on the doorstep, with the clear, starlit heavens above me. As I looked up into the night my thoughts were something like this, “What a beautiful night! It is so calm and clear and quiet, and the stars shine so brightly. God, who is my Father, made those stars, and He made me. He is the Creator of all things.” Then I was lost in wonder as I thought of the greatness of His creations. I looked at the great distance to the nearest stars, and like a flash of light came the verse of Scripture, “As the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.” (Psalm 103:11) The thought almost overwhelmed me for a moment. I knew I feared the Lord, and so His mercy was as great toward me as the heavens were high above me! All that space was filled with God’s love and mercy to me. My very soul seemed in awe at the thought. I felt so safe, so calm, so quiet and rested. Then together, my Lord and I, the day was reviewed. My thoughts went back to a place where I had spoken hastily, and I felt reproved and sorry for it, and said, “Lord, I will be more careful tomorrow.” Then my thought went to a time at which I had kept still when someone had taunted me, and it seemed almost as by a voice, so clear did the assurance come to my heart, “I was pleased with you then,” and I said, “Lord, I will try to be even more humble the next time.” So we went over the whole day.
I said (for the Lord seemed very near to me), “Lord, do I stand clear in thy sight? Is everything right between Thee and me?” and the answer came back to my own heart in the quietness of the hour, “You are my child, and I am pleased with you.”
It was time for our family worship, and I rose and went in, with my spirit rested and my soul as calm as the summer night. I have found that these quiet hours with God, these times when I have come as it were into His presence, have been the strength of my Christian life, and I know they are what every young Christian needs.
My dear girl, if you are not a true servant of God, the quiet hours in rest and pure meditation will make you better, and perhaps in them the precious Spirit of God will talk to your heart and show you how to come to Him. I pray that it may be so. But if you are serving God, do not miss these quiet hours with Him. Have some time each day to go aside to meditate and pray. Be willing to do and live as you feel in your heart you should do and live after you have thus sat before Him.
Learn to love to be alone, to know how to depend upon yourself for entertainment, and to find in your own heart and mind something to think about and meditate upon. Do not allow yourself to be one of those light-minded creatures who must always have the stimulating effect of a companion to find enjoyment.