I’m hard-pressed to find uninterrupted daily devotional time with the Lord these days. My so-called “quiet time” is usually broken up into small nuggets throughout the day and is hardly ever actually quiet. Whenever I’ve had plans to get up early and study God’s Word before my son’s typical waking time or to sneak out quietly and spend a few minutes in prayer during a peaceful morning jog, I’ve learned it’s pretty much a guarantee that my son will wake up early too. The second I start moving around in my bedroom he’s sure to call out to me from down the hall in his tiny little voice, “Mommy? Where are you going? I want to go with you.” Then, later in the day, unforeseen tasks often come up that cannot be put off or ignored, days fly by in the hustle and bustle of life, and good intentions sometimes remain just that – good intentions. While uninterrupted, large blocks of time with the Lord are a treasure, some days I’m only able to manage a 30-second prayer for my struggling friend as I follow my son down the sidewalk, a chapter or two of the audio Bible as I cook dinner in the evening, a quick cry to the Lord for patience during a bathroom break as little fingers slide under the door, two spare minutes to ponder Sunday’s sermon while I fold a load of laundry, or an unexpected opportunity to read a Psalm while my son plays quietly in the next room.
I’m rarely afforded a large chunk of time to study my Bible, write in my journal, and pray as I’d like to, and not too long ago frustration set in and nearly caused me to give up my efforts completely. I had become so focused upon myself and the fact that Bible reading wasn’t easy or convenient for me that I’d lost sight of the enjoyment, pleasure, and heart-change that come from reading God’s Word. Thankfully, my husband gently reminded me that the Christian life isn’t about a 30-minute or hour-long block of “quiet time” each day. It’s about an entire life lived for God – pondering the Scriptures day and night, praying to the Lord in both happiness and distress, and offering words of praise no matter our circumstances. While some seasons of life offer us plenty of time for rich, extended, independent study of God’s Word, others make that type of in-depth study challenging and, at times, next to impossible.
But no matter what season of life we’re in, we need to be intentional about studying God’s Word and spending time in prayer, however we’re able to do it. It’s certainly helpful to set aside time each day to study the Scriptures, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be 30 or 60 consecutive minutes. Before I became a mom, it was easy to read my Bible, journal, and pray at a set time every day as I sipped my coffee. That system worked well for me then, but that same system doesn’t work for me at this point in my life. I still have a daily plan and a general schedule for prayer and Bible reading, but I’ve learned that I have to be flexible with it. Currently I take in smaller portions of the Word throughout the day, but it doesn’t always happen at the same time of day every day, and I’ve come to realize that that’s okay! The point is that reading the Word of God and spending time in prayer, however and whenever we can, should be a priority in the life of every believer.
I’m grateful that all of God’s Word is profitable (2 Timothy 3:16), which means that even if I’m only able to read a few verses on a particular day, the Lord can speak just as loudly through those few verses as He can through an entire book. On days when reading just isn’t a possibility, we can also listen to the Word* or meditate on verses from last Sunday’s sermon. We must breathe in the Word daily, but there are many ways to do that. When David was king of Israel he would have undoubtedly had ample time to meditate upon the Scriptures and journal to the Lord (Hence, the Psalms!), but the commoner would not have been afforded this same opportunity. Most of them lived in one-room houses and rarely had time to themselves. They wouldn’t have even had a Bible at that point in time but instead would have meditated upon the Scriptures they knew or the passage that had been read at the corporate gathering the day before. Like them, we must wisely use the time and resources we’ve been given. It’s not about spending 30 uninterrupted minutes with the Lord and checking a box off our to-do list; rather it’s about pondering God’s truth throughout all of our days and admitting our utter dependence upon Him during all of life’s situations.
Now, please hear me when I say that my intention is certainly not to downplay the importance of spending extensive time in God’s Word or to deemphasize the significance and helpfulness of a lengthy devotional time. We are so blessed today to have the Word right at our fingertips, and we need to read it often. If you’re looking for an excuse to let your Bible collect dust on the coffee table, don’t look here! Whether we read a short passage of Scripture or an entire book of the Bible, whether we mull over the verses from Sunday’s sermon or listen to a few chapters of the book of Romans on audio, our aim should be to keep moving forward and striving for holiness through the study of God’s Word, basking in His grace and desiring ultimately to live a life that’s pleasing to Him.
Although my “quiet time” is not so quiet these days, I am thankful for this season of life, knowing that the frequent interruptions and numerous distractions point to the fact that the Lord has given me a family to care for and to love, while the daily struggle and strong determination mean that He’s graciously given me the desire to remain faithful in prayer and in the study of His Word in the midst of these chaotic times.
*For a free version of the Audio Bible, click here.
The law of the Lord is perfect,reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,enlightening the eyes;the fear of the Lord is clean,enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.~Psalm 19:7-11