Monday, February 25, 2013

prayer and bible reading for the busy mama

when i was in college (and all the way up until having children), i had the joy of getting to spend deep, long times in the Word and prayer.  i loved going to a coffee shop and spending three, four, five or more hours journaling, praying, reading the bible and other christian books.  it was like sitting next to a well and drinking deeply over and over until i was more than satisfied.

'Open Bible with pen' photo (c) 2010, Ryk Neethling - license:
since having kids?  not so much.  mostly i am just sad to miss out on these sweet times, but when i am tempted to feel guilty, i remember this important quote from a theologian i really like, d.a. carson:
"Martyn Lloyd-Jones once spoke with a group of medical students who complained that in the midst of their training and the ferocious work hours they really didn’t even have time to read the Bible and have their devotions and so on. He bristled and said, “I am a doctor. I have been where you are. You have time for what you want to do.” After a long pause he said, “I make only one exception: the mother of preschool-aged children does not have time and emotional resources.”
It is important to recognize, too, that there are stages of life where you really don’t have time to do much, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Children will sap you. If you have three children under the age of six, forget serious reading unless you have the money for a nanny. When our youngest finally went off to kindergarten, we celebrated that day—I took my wife out for lunch. Only then could she get back into reading again. It’s the way life is. You have to be realistic."

so i recognize that this stage of life is only a season.  but i also don't want to grow lazy and make excuses to not pray and read the bible, because i DO think its possible.  however, at this stage of life, it will look more like sips here and there and not sitting down to drink deeply from the well.

here are some of the ways that i am intentional to get bible and prayer times (even if just sips) into my day.

go on a walk - we are fortunate to have lots of stores and several parks within walking distance.  we usually go on walks several times each week.  during our walks, i usually bring index cards with bible verses on them so that i can memorize and meditate on scripture while we walk.  these index cards also work well at the park, as i can look at them while esther is running around and playing.

walking is also a great time to pray.  i find that i can focus better on pray while walking than when i am sitting in the house.  the added bonus is that the kiddos also enjoy the walk. :)

pray with your children - when i get a text or email from someone asking for prayer, i try to always sit down with esther and pray for that person or situation.  not only does this help me to actually remember to pray for whatever request i have gotten, but it models to her the importance of prayer, even though she doesn't understand it quite yet.  when i pray with her, its easier to pray right from the heart (more so than when i pray with adults).

listening to the bible - any time your hands are busy but your ears are free is a great time to listen to scripture (like i mentioned about sermon listening).  i like to use the esv study bible website (which you can only access if you own an esv study bible) but you can also listen to the bible for free at bible gateway.   right now my community group is studying philippians and listening online has been a great tool to help me with scripture memory and becoming very familiar with the text. i would estimate that i have listened to philippians at least 30 times in the past couple of months.

recite scripture to your child during menial tasks - any time that your hands are busy and your mouth is free, use it as an opportunity to recite scripture to your kids (while changing diapers, giving a bath, carrying them to bed, etc).  not only will this help you to focus on scripture and maintain memory of verses you worked to memorize, this will also help your kids learn scripture and see the importance of it for every day life.

it kinda reminds me of deuteronomy 6:6-7:  "And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise."

get a friend or family member to babysit - every once in a while when i really need to get some bible and prayer time, i will get someone to babysit for an hour or two just so that i can get away to a coffee shop and focus for a longer time.  it still falls short of the 3-5 hours i would love to spend, but its enough to refresh me and keep me going.

have a morning family devotional time - one suggestion that i have heard (but haven't implemented, i think our kids are still too young) is to model daily bible time to your kids by having it each morning with them.  you can do it together or individually, whatever is best for you and your children.  for individual time, you can have children who are too young to read listen to an audio children's bible while they follow along in a book.  this allows you to also have a few free minutes to read your bible (while modeling this to your children).

sacrifice your free time -  any mother of young children (especially when you have multiple littles) knows that any time your children are all sleeping at the same time is *golden*.  for me, its the time of day when i scramble to get chores done, get on the internet, make phone calls, etc.  since i am very task oriented, i usually try to get as much work done as possible during this time.  but several times a week, i try to be intentional to use this time to sit down and pray and read the bible for a bit- even if it means ignoring piles of laundry and dishes.  because time with jesus is worth it, and i don't want to be guilty of being a martha (luke 10:38-42).

i also love the idea of the 5:00 club.  i have done this at points in my motherhood when we didn't have babies waking up at night (right now is not one of those times, unfortunately).  waking up early is a sacrifice but let me tell you, it is sooooo worth it (but make sure to go to bed at a good time so that you are not nodding off over your bible!).  it reminds me of the proverbs 31 women who, according to verse 15 rises while it is yet night.  while i can't realistically get up that early right now, i do try to read my bible while eating breakfast, especially if esther is still asleep at that time (and fortunately baby girl rarely cries first thing in the morning).

how do you fit bible and prayer time into your motherhood?

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