A Real Woman's Guide to Devotions, Part 2: But I'm BUSY!
|Purdue bell tower|
Life often seems to pass by in a swift blur. At the end of a week I often can barely remember what I did a few days before. There are kids to be fed, clothed, taught, loved. Lessons and jobs to be driven to. A household and finances to manage. Chores to be kept up with. A husband's business books to be tended. Church responsibilities. People to have over. Friends to walk, pray, and laugh with. Sometimes there are even quilts to be sewn and books to be read. Life is full, and I love it that way!
When life is very busy, it can be hard to find time for prayer and Bible reading. But busy lives should not be prayerless lives. Busy women especially need time with God to settle anxious hearts, to seek His direction for using our limited time, and to plead for His favor so that our work will not be in vain. Those very same people and responsibilities that keep us so busy should drive us to our knees as we call upon the only One who can equip us for each day's tasks!
Great, you might be thinking. Another guilt trip about needing to spend more time in prayer and Bible study.
No! Instead I want to encourage you to think REAL instead of IDEAL. Don't put off prayer and reading the Bible because you don't have a set apart hour. Instead of waiting for the perfectly quiet moment, grab what you can. Work with the real as you at the same time take steps to move closer to your ideal.
Here are some examples of real vs. ideal:
In an ideal world, I would do all my Bible reading from my print Bible. Over time, reading consistently from one physical Bible allows you to locate passages very quickly. (It's right here!) This is so helpful! However, my reality is that my old eyes can't focus on my print Bible early in the morning. So I use a Kindle. Not as nice as a paper Bible, but I can make it happen.
Maybe you find reading the Bible on your phone works best. Probably not ideal, but if you limit or ignore email and text notifications, this can be a good option.
Ideal might be reading four chapters a day in a systematic through-the Bible-in-a-year plan. Some years that is what I do. Real might mean you only have time for one chapter. It only takes about five minutes to read an average chapter in the Bible. If you have only five minutes - use it! Read that chapter! And then mull it over as you go on to fold laundry or prepare breakfast.
In an ideal world, prayer and Bible reading would happen together in a lovely, quiet hour. In my real world, I often separate the two into two separate time slots during the day.
In an ideal world, personal devotions take place very early in the morning. In a real world, maybe the best time for you is when your children are napping. (I have some ideas for making time in the morning that I'll share later.)
Martin Luther wrote a great letter to his barber called "A Simple Way to Pray." In it he talks about how to pray through the Lord's Prayer, the 10 Commandments, and the Creed. There are some great nuggets on how to make prayer happen in a busy life as well. Here's an excerpt:
It is a good thing to let prayer be the first business of the morning and the last at night. Guard yourself carefully against those false, deluding ideas which tell you, "Wait a little while. I will pray in an hour; first I must attend to this or that." Such thoughts get you away from prayer into other affairs which so hold your attention and involve you that nothing comes of prayer for that day.
It may well be that you have some tasks which are as good or better than prayer, especially in an emergency. There is a saying ascribed to St. Jerome that everything a believer does is prayer and a proverb, "He who works faithfully prays twice." This can be said because a believer fears and honors God in his work and remembers the commandment not to wrong anyone, or to try to steal, defraud, or cheat. Such thoughts and such faith undoubtedly transform his work into prayer and a sacrifice of praise...
Yet we must be careful not to break the habit of true prayer and imagine other works to be necessary which, after all, are nothing of the kind. Thus at the end we become lax and lazy, cool and listless toward prayer. The devil who besets us is not lazy or careless, and our flesh is too ready and eager to sin and is disinclined to the spirit of prayer.
Life is busy! If you have little children, you may dream of the day they will be older. Then you'll have time for devotions! But guess what? Life is always busy! So instead of waiting for the perfect situation to have the perfect devotions, begin now with what you are able to do. Spend time each day reading and thinking about God's word and talking with Him about what you have read and about your concerns. Even in the busiest of times, your walk with God can be a growing one!
Next time I'll give some ideas for how to cut through distractions.