Jesus, while in the home of Mary and Martha, commended Mary for listening at His feet and gently chided Martha for being distracted by all the preparations that had to be made (Luke 10:38-42).
In years past it was easy for me to set aside time to read my Bible and pray each day, but now that I face the demands of marriage and motherhood I feel like I have no choice but to be like Martha. There’s so much to be done!
When I was spending some time in the Word a couple of weeks ago, I was struck by Jesus’ response to Martha when she told Him to have Mary help her. Jesus responded that Mary had chosen what was better.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42
When I’m facing a crying baby, basketfuls of dirty laundry, a sink of dirty dishes, and a messy living room, it’s hard to believe that spending time with the Lord is the best choice. Tending to my child is of paramount importance, of course, but the rest can wait because it’s the work that takes place in me when I meet with the Lord, not the cleanliness of my house, that has eternal consequences. I want to choose what is better.
What does this look like on a practical level? How can we set aside time to spend in the Word and in prayer?
Finding time to spend with the Lord
- Reduce or eliminate time stealers. How much time do you spend each day on Facebook, Pinterest, or other social media platforms? If you have time to utilize these, then you have time to spend with the Lord. I felt like my toes had been stepped on when I came to this realization! When I nurse my daughter in the middle of the night I will often browse Pinterest on my phone. If I didn’t have time to read my Bible during the day, then I need to use this time to read it instead of using social media. Perhaps you don’t use social media, but you spend a lot of time watching TV, completing projects, or something else. Consider replacing these time stealers with Bible reading.
- Rethink what your devotional time should look like. Unlike in my single, childless years, I don’t have an hour each day to spend listening to worship music, reading several chapters of the Bible, praying, journaling, and memorizing scripture. The good news is that the Bible doesn’t say you have to spend a certain amount of time or engage in a list of certain activities during a quiet time. It’s okay to only spend 15 minutes if that’s all you have. It’s okay to use a devotional or Bible study book to guide your time. Get creative and figure out what works for you.
- Take advantage of times when your kids are sleeping. To be perfectly honest, I don’t want to give up sleep to spend time in the Word and I don’t want to give up naptime because it’s often the best opportunity I have to get caught up on housework. Does this sound familiar? However, these are times when I can give the Lord my undivided attention, making them some of the best times to meet with Him.
- Utilize various tools to keep you on track. Sometimes I need the help of various friends and some tools to keep me from getting distracted and forgetting to spend time with God. I’ll tell a friend that I’m struggling to have daily devotional time so she can keep me accountable. I’ll set an alarm on my phone to remind me when it’s time to read my Bible. What would help you? A message on a sticky note that you post on the mirror? Having your husband ask each day if you’ve prayed and read Scripture? Enlist help as needed so you meet with the Lord consistently.
- Get the whole family involved. If your little ones are old enough, then they can have devotional time, too. You can set them down with a children’s Bible or even a DVD of Bible stories while you read your Bible. This is great for getting them in the habit of spending time with the Lord! Additionally, if you’re not already having worship and Bible study together as a family, this would be a great time to start.
- Pray throughout the day and post Bible verses throughout your house. Ideally, we won’t just connect with the Lord at one time during the day. We should be connected—worshiping, praying, learning, and meditating—all day long. While I do think it is important to have some time specifically set aside for Bible reading and prayer, reading scripture and praying throughout the day help us be in a mindset that optimizes our devotional time and helps us apply the lessons we’re learning.
- Listen to an audio recording of the Bible. One easy way to get a little more Scripture “reading” in is to listen to the Bible on CD (or to utilize a website that allows you to listen to the Bible). This way your mind can learn from the Bible while your hands complete tasks that doesn’t take a lot of thought (e.g., nursing a baby, mending clothes, rolling out dough, etc.).
I’ve begun getting up an hour before my little one awakens so I’m sure to have uninterrupted time to read the Bible and pray. This hasn’t been the easiest choice because I’m sometimes tired (she is still waking a couple times each night for feedings), but I believe I’ve chosen what is better.
Though time with the Lord is important, I don’t believe that the Lord wants us to approach it in a legalistic manner. He has grace for us when unforeseen circumstances occasionally keep us from spending time with Him.
Are you choosing what is better? What do you do to make sure you have time to spend with the Lord each day?