I grew up in Christian home attending a church that valued the Bible highly. As a result, I was continually reminded of the importance of reading, studying Scripture, and spending time in prayer. It’s what many refer to as “Quiet Time”. Over the years I’ve worked to establish the habit of reading the Bible daily and having a structured prayer time. I would roller coaster my way though, doing really well one week, and not so great the next. Strangely though, it wasn’t until after I became a mom that these habits really fell into place.
Now before you think this is another post about the importance of spending time with God let me assure you that it’s not. I want to encourage those like myself who are trying to have this time with God, but find it impossible because of kids or scheduling issues.
I tried everything
When I became a mom I was suddenly very aware of my need to “set my mind on things above”. I needed to have time with God every day for the simple reason that it made my day better. When my oldest was younger, getting time alone, specifically in the mornings, was easy. But then he decided that being up at 5:30-6:00 every morning was way more fun. Realizing that this cut into my “quiet time”, I tried other methods of getting with God.
- I tried evenings. Since my kids are early risers, I thought the next logical time for me to get my quiet time in was in the evening after they went to bed. Now I believe that the words of God deserve one hundred percent focus and if I can’t give Him that then I should wait ’til I can. (This is a personal conviction. The Bible says nothing about this being your mental state when meeting with God.) The problem with this mindset is that at the end of the day I was always too tired to focus and so I would never get anything read. After a while of evenings just not working, I decided it was time to try something else.
- I tried naptime. The next logical quiet time was while the kids were napping. But having my quiet time at this point in the day had it’s own set of obstacles. One, I still try to adhere to the “sleep when baby sleeps” rule. But by the time I woke up from my nap, I’d only have a few minutes before one of the kids would be up. Two, I would still have a hard time focusing on the Bible and prayer because my brain would be swimming from all the information and to-dos of the day. No, naptime was not a good quiet time.
- I tried mornings. So I was back to mornings. I had to make it work somehow. And getting up earlier seemed to be my only option. You can read how well that worked here. In short, I had two choices, pull my hair out trying to have the “perfect quiet time” and not taking any Scripture in until then, or give up “quiet time” altogether.
Breaking out of “quiet time” prison
I realized that by using the term “quiet time” I was putting myself in a box, limited by my idea of what time with God should look like. I was going crazy trying to find the perfect box to fit my “out of the box” lifestyle in. But when I surrendered the ideal quiet time, I was able to embrace a new mindset that has helped me grow in my walk and relationship with God.
- I embraced mornings. I still struggle with mornings. But I have accepted that they are the best time for “Bible time” because my brain has not had a chance to jump into busy mode. It’s the time my kids are most independent so I can go into another room and they are more content to play by themselves, which means fewer interruptions (in theory). And it means I still get to study God’s word over a hot cup of coffee.
- I embraced noise. For a while, the only place for me to have my Bible time was in the living room or kitchen. I’ve also found that the best way to keep my kids occupied during my Bible time is by turning on the T.V. But this means the background noise of children’s shows. It meant having to fight the distracting music and voices with instrumental praise and worship music playing on my phone.
- I embraced journaling. I am pen and paper kind of girl so this was not a hard thing to accept. But I did have to learn how to utilize these tools to make the most of my Bible time. I started writing the Scripture. This forces me to slow down and really engage with the text. I also started writing out my prayers. This allows me to pray, even when the kids are awake because when interruptions arise, I can pick up right where I left off when I get back.
- I embraced nibbling. Time and again the Bible refers to feeding on the word of God. But in a season where I have to play referee to my boys all day long. The amount of spiritual food I receive can feel like nothing but a few nibbles. This can be very discouraging. But then I remember that God’s grace is sufficient for me and that He promised that faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains.
Seeds and loaves to trees and feasts
[the Kingdom of Heaven] is like a grain of mustard seed which when sown on the ground is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is grown it becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade. Mark 4:30-31
Maybe you are discouraged with only being able to take in a few nibbles of God’s word at a time. Maybe you haven’t been doing anything because you’re an “all or nothing” type of person like myself and are waiting for those ideal circumstances to come around. Or maybe you’re paralyzed by the dozens of different reading plans and prayer methods out there. No matter the circumstance, there will be satisfaction in nibbling.
God made the world out of nothing. He is so powerful that he calmed the storms and raised the dead with just a word. Jesus fed thousands of people with just a few loaves and fish. In Matthew 6, Jesus reminds the people that God feeds the sparrows and clothes the lilies. He encouraged them (and us) to have faith that God will provide all we need. Now in context, Jesus was talking about physical needs. But we know that God will care for ALL of our needs. We know that through His power and grace, He can use the mustard seed size portions of Scripture we’re taking in to help us flourish spiritually in this season. We can live in anticipation of the day when He will take the few meager loaves and fish we’re consuming and multiply them into a great feast.
Let it go
I’m not saying you shouldn’t try a new method if what you’re doing now isn’t working. It took me trying a lot of different things to figure out what would work. What I am saying is that often our ideal time with God isn’t always practical and our efforts to make it happen will prove to be discouraging and harmful to our spiritual walk. We need to the word of God to sustain us through this crazy life but we often allow our ideals to get in the way. If you find this to be your struggle, I’d like to encourage you not to give up on time with God. Read it. Listen to it. Sing it. Whatever you need to do to sustain your spiritual life, do it. I must warn you though, this may mean letting go of your ideal quiet time. But remember, to know Christ is far more valuable than anything else.