When I became a Christian I was introduced to quiet times. For over four decades I've had quiet times most days. And they have sometimes been encouraging, and even when nothing seems particularly relevant, they still contribute to my overall spiritual nourishment. But I've come to realise the term can create an image that is less than God's best, and this is taken advantage of by the enemy.

Meditation sounds such a simple peaceful - but if it doesn't centre on God it's a variation of meditation - whether emptying the mind or filing it with your own ideas. Centring on God doesn't mean thinking specifically about God - it's much broader. Philippians 4:8 says:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

God doesn't change - He's the same yesterday, today and forever. He spoke - and the world came into being. He spoke with Adam, Eve and the serpent. He spoke with their children - including one right after he'd murdered another. He continues to speak today and uphold the world in many ways.

In the last few years, I've been trying to slow down so I can hear His voice. When my mind is busy (noisy), I find it difficult. Meditation has such a bad image among some people, but that's a favourite trick of the enemy - plant unhelpful ideas along with the good. People get so distracted by the bad they lose sight of the good.

Recently I've been discovering God doesn't want us to slow down to hear Him. He wants us to, like Jesus, live in such a way and at a steady pace so that rush and noise are no longer a major obstacle to hearing God. I'm finally starting to appreciate the reality that people Brother Lawrence and others lived in.

This is a big change for my "Type-A" personality. I'm slowly learning to relax and to think things through before blurting out my thoughtless responses. I'm a long way from mastering this basic skill which comes naturally to many others, but I'm starting to see growth.

Over the years I have had many debates - some of which led to a change of understanding. I look forward to more - although the concept of people strongly arguing their view without belittling the opponent seems to be a foreign idea to many these days. But it's good to find I can sometimes examine issues with myself, and thus at least have a more robust starting point for discussion.

We've all seen "crazies" in films who "hear voices" in their head. Some will say I'm now one of them - but it's certainly not as I thought. This physical world is a part of a bigger reality. As I start to appreciate the reality of the spiritual, "hearing voices" doesn't seem so crazy. There are vast hordes of spiritual beings, and as well as God, those on the dark side are constantly trying to get our attention.

That too can convey the wrong impression. The enemy prefers to go unnoticed, so they don't actually want to get attention. What they really want is for their ideas to come to our attention. It's much more effective to put thoughts into our mind - and far more difficult to detect. I'm starting to recognise situations where thoughts in my mind are clearly (usually in hindsight) from God. Other's are my own - and can be good or bad but are usually a mixture. And then there are ones from the enemy.

I don't have vast experience with this - but at least I now recognise that "my" thoughts can come from other sources. At first, I could only pick this in hindsight. Now I'm starting, in very small ways, to learn to recognise this at the time. It's an exciting development in my understanding, and I'm looking forward to future growth.