When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you (Matthew 6:6 NIV).
From the earliest days of Christian history, believers have developed ways of structuring our use of time to reflect our most fundamental beliefs and to commemorate our most meaningful historical events. The Christian year is built around this calendar of events starting with Advent and Christmas, followed by Epiphany, Lent and Easter, with Pentecost, and then Ordinary Time, which lead back into harvest and All Saints' Day. We go full circle and arrive back at Advent where the calendar repeats itself once more. The rhythm of the seasons in each year helps us to remember with thanksgiving the ongoing, well-ordered and redemptive work of Christ.
The Christian week focuses on the blessings and joys of creation, when after six days of work, the Lord ceased from his labors and embraced sabbath rest. Setting apart one day each week, God modeled for his children how he wants us to live. He wants us to work faithfully for six days and then rest deeply for one. That rhythm is the most life-sustaining of all and will keep us from burning out on too much work, by far the most damaging temptation of seeking to live fully today. Choosing sabbath as a slow down, rest, delight, notice and be fulfilled lifestyle will lead us into the abundant life Christ invites us to embrace and enjoy.
For the Christian even a day in itself is to be seen as holy. The church fathers and mothers practiced their life of prayer and devotion throughout their days. Known as the "hours" (liturgy of the hours or book of hours) or the "office" (divine or daily office), these are the seven points in the day that are markers of holiness. Based on Psalm 119:164, "Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws," the daily office sets apart holy moments in the day to pause, reflect and remember our source of life (matins in the morning; vespers in the evening; terce, sext and none, the third, sixth and ninth hours of midday; compline just before bed; and prime for the very early morning). It was first practiced in early monastic communities, and the daily office is still followed today in Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran and Reformed churches (although not exactly alike). These holy times of the day are worth our consideration regardless of our Christian tradition. For evangelicals, this expands the "daily quiet time" from one set time each day to several prayers and pauses throughout the day. Can we argue with such value for the soul?
In addition to the church calendar, the Christian week and the daily office, our faith tradition honors the importance of holy spaces (with corresponding biblical theologies of space and architecture) and holy places (Jerusalem, Rome, Canterbury, or Santiago).
All in all, time and space have been important priorities for Christians throughout church history. The use of time and space to aid us in our spiritual development is not a new concept. Neither is our abuse and neglect of both. Therefore, there is a desperate need for us to use our time for the specific growth and development of our spiritual lives—the care and nurture of our souls.
Time is our most basic and often the most precious currency we have. Once spent it's gone forever, except for the memories. As the wisdom of Solomon teaches us in Ecclesiastes 3:1, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." Likewise, David reminds us in Psalm 31:15, "My times are in your hands." As with them, it is true for us: There is a time for everything under heaven, and our times are in God's hands.