One of the most precious commodities we have is our time. And at any single moment, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of ways we can spend it. As believers, we know it’s wise to spend some time each day abiding in the Word—reading, memorizing, meditating, praying, discussing—and yet, whole days can go by where if we’re honest, we’ve barely given any time to these vital practices. Sometimes, this means our priorities need to shift, but other times, it simply means we need to be more flexible about what it means to “go deeper, daily” in our engagement with the word.
As a working mom with three children, my schedule, like all of yours, is very full. Every few months my season changes so I make a fresh plan for what I’d like to do for Bible study going forward. But what I’ve found is, I will likely actually only do it 2-3x per week. Living on this side of Eden, life doesn’t go as planned. Unexpected appointments, sick children, travel, or just well, life, all seem to derail even the best laid plans. What I’ve found is in order to stay consistent in going deeper, I need a variety of tools in my tool box to reach for.
We’ve all heard the image of a perfect quiet time with a cozy chair and a candle debunked, but have you debunked the other standards you hold your quiet time to? Maybe it’s an inductive Bible study five days/week. Maybe it’s 20 minutes of prayer journaling. Maybe it’s looking at three translations and executing a few word studies. All of these are spectacular ways to go deeper in your study of God’s word, but what if you overslept for your morning study slot? What if you went to meet with a friend instead of your normal lunch-hour reading? What if a child is sick and needs all day snuggles and comfort? Do you just scrap any Bible reading plans you had and try again tomorrow? Well, that’s one option. And there truly is plenty of grace for that. But the incredible thing about God’s word is there are so many ways to access and study it deeply. Sometimes, we just need to get creative and give ourselves freedom in what it looks like.
Here’s how I’ve found that I can go deeper, daily, even when I don’t feel like I have time.
In order to set yourself up for success in getting in the Word, having a plan is vital. This plan is that “standard”—what you’d ideally like to do. For me, that’s reading a quick devotional or puritan prayer, completing one day of a Bible study, and spending time in prayer. The whole thing takes about 20-25 minutes. For me to fit this in, it means I have to wake up early before the rest of the house, and prioritize it as the very first thing I do. If I don’t, the chances of me doing it are slim to none.
Because life is wild, this is where we need to allow that “standard” to be debunked. It’s likely not possible to complete the plan every day, so when time is tight, what are your options? Similar to posting quick meal ideas on your fridge, what can you do on those days when Plan A doesn’t work? Here are some go-to options I like to pull from. On days when time is tight I like to tirage my task list to see which of these I have time for. I look for spots I can squeeze in one or even a few throughout the day. (Perhaps consider posting your Backup Plan ideas for your fridge!):
- Read a devotional, psalm, hymn, or prayer. Find a book you’d like to work through and put it in an accessible spot. It can be a devotional, a collection of prayers, or a hymnal that you can sing out of.
- Listen to the audio Bible. Listen while you're at the grocery store, in the car, or snuggling a child.
- Pray and meditate on a verse. Keep verse and/or prayer cards easily accessible in spots you know you’ll be in each day, like in the car or by the kitchen sink.
- Read one passage or chapter of the Bible. In seasons where you don’t have a lot of brain power or time due to little sleep or intense schedules, read one book or chapter of the Bible over and over.
- Take advantage of natural conversations with others. This one is perhaps my favorite, as I’ve found my children have fascinating questions about the Bible. When they come to me on a random summer afternoon asking, What do angels look like? I love going to an online Bible and doing a search to find where they are mentioned and talking with my kids about our findings. The next thing you know, we’re deep in a word study, all learning together.
More than likely, none of these ideas are new to you. Yet, for many of us, on the days we feel pressed for time, our brains apparently turn to mush and all we can think of is how Plan A won’t work. But God’s word is our very life. It guards against sin, gives us wisdom, inspires obedience, is the source of our joy and delight, and strengthens us in times of trouble. We need it to remember who we are in Christ and who we are becoming. As believers, our time reflects our loves. While it likely isn’t possible to have a 30 minute quiet time every day, it truly is possible to go deeper in God’s word every day, if we just get a little creative.
Laura Wifler is a writer, podcaster, and co-founder of Risen Motherhood and is based in central Iowa. She has authored several books for children, including the award-winning Any Time, Any Place, Any Prayer, and is the co-author of the Risen Motherhood book.