In this post, I want to share a list of ideas for incorporating Bible reading into your day. Not all of them will be relevant to your circumstances, but I am hoping that a few of them might prove helpful. Some are strategies that I have used, and others have come from my reading over the years.
The most difficult times to fit Bible reading—or any reading, for that matter—into your day is when you have young children at home. Here are some ideas specific to parents with little ones:
1. Lead everyone in your family to have a devotional time at once. Give your small children Bible storybooks and picture books, along with notebooks they can scribble their own “notes” in. For some kids, a little spiral notebook feels like a special treasure instead of the usual big sheets of coloring paper they are used to.
Set a timer, and let your children know, “When the timer goes ‘ding,’ I will read a story to you, but for now, it is everyone’s quiet time to spend with God.”
You will have to explain, model, and reinforce the behaviors you expect during this time just as you would when teaching any other appropriate behaviors for a given time and place.
2. Even if your children have outgrown naptime, you can still have them observe a “quiet time,” when they are expected to read, draw, or play quietly in their rooms.
Again, you will have to explain, model, and reinforce the behaviors you expect during this time. “Quiet time” might not be all that quiet and Bible-directed while you are reinforcing that your children cannot keep popping out of their rooms to ask you a question or look for a different toy. Use the same sorts of methods you employ to keep them in their rooms at night, and after some time you may find some fairly uninterrupted periods of morning or afternoon time for your devotions.
3. Work with your husband to find a task that he can do with the kids on his own to free you up for a devotional time. Perhaps he can brush teeth, give baths, oversee the putting on of pajamas, and read the nighttime books while you have your quiet time, and then you can come in for prayer, tuck ins, and kisses. Or he could take them to the park, the library, or (even better!) the grocery store once a week so you can have an uninterrupted hour to yourself.
4. Let your children see you read the Bible. You don’t have to hide yourself away for devotional time, as long as you can find a way to be undisturbed. It sets a great example, and makes them curious.
Here are some suggestions that could work for anyone at any point in her life:
1. Read just a little before you go to sleep at night, or in the morning before anyone else is awake, depending on your own sleeping habits.
2. Find a time when you would usually pick up a magazine or scroll through Facebook (your lunch break at work, perhaps?), and pick up the Bible instead.
3. Keep a calendar of your Quiet Time reading to mark your progress. Elizabeth George includes a Quiet Times Calendar in the back of her book, A Woman After God’s Own Heart. You can shade in a square for each day you spend some time with God. My daughter has a similar chart to this for her kindergarten class, so she can mark off every fifteen minute increment of reading she does each day. Such a visual record may encourage you to be more faithful to your commitment.
4. Tell other people about your intention to spend time in the Bible each day. Knowing that they will ask you about your progress may offer additional incentive to keep up your commitment.
“What happens when you and I do slip away to be with God in study and prayer?” asks Elizabeth George in A Woman After God’s Own Heart.
“We receive,” she writes. “We take in. We are nurtured and fed…I call this time with God ‘the great exchange.’ Away from the world and hidden from public view, I exchange my weariness for His strength, my weakness for His power, my darkness for His light, my problems for His solutions, my burdens for His freedom, my frustrations for His peace, my turmoil for His calm, my hopes for His promises, my afflictions for His balm of comfort, my questions for His answers, my confusion for His knowledge, my doubt for His assurance, my nothingness for His awesomeness, the temporal for the eternal, and the impossible for the possible.”