Q: My kids are young and I can barely find a moment for myself. How did you maintain a devotional life when your kids were little? I am frustrated when I am interrupted.
I would say that there are three things to keep in mind when you are thinking about your devotional life with a house full of little ones.
1. Devotional life is a matter of the heart and focus.
2. Bible reading may only be a few minutes before you are interrupted.
3. This is just a season of life. It won’t be this way forever.
I was recently asked to speak to a group of young mothers on maintaining your devotional life. While I was speaking to the moms after the meeting, it struck me that there are many misconceptions about what God expects. The Bible was written for our benefit and to tell us what God is like, what he has done for his children and what he expects from his followers.
God is not waiting to punish you if you don’t spend X amount of time in His word, as though He is impressed with a half hour over 10 minutes. His love is not based on your performance. Period. Your day is not going to go better if you DO read and worse if you don’t read. That is just plain superstitious.
However, we do read God’s word out of a desire to know Him and because we want to obey His revealed word. Psalm 119 tells us that to be fully blessed and happy, we’ll walk in God’s ways and love His law. When we are looking into the mirror of God’s word it can change us, precept upon precept.
The scripture is like a mold, and is designed by God to be pressed down upon human beings, and when it is pressed rightly over the years what that mold produces is the image of Christ. Don’t leave any of the mold out, or criticize parts of it. God knows what needs to be applied by to the human soul to produce the image of Christ on His people. ~ Robert Dabney
A person can read the Bible every day like clockwork and not benefit. (If the heart is not right with God or others, or you are hiding and not dealing with your sin, your Bible reading will be of little value or interest.)
Ideally, in a world without little children, you’d get up, read God’s word, absorb its truth, apply it to your life and have a meaningful prayer time.
In the real world, as soon as the kids hear you up and see that you are reading something quietly on the couch, they come over to you and start poking your shoulder to get your attention. “Mom…Mom…Mom…what are you doing? Are you reading? What are you reading?”
Thus endeth your concentration.
So, some strategies for getting into God’s word while you have little ones that have worked for me:
1. Plan to read for five minutes. If you end up having more time, well then, read on. But at least you won’t be frustrated with the kids if it doesn’t happen.
2. Try to get up earlier than your kids. Again, if you’ve just had a baby and have other small children, this might not even be an option for you.
3. Write down a small thought or verse on a 4″X6″ card, then tape it on the fridge, window or somewhere you’ll see it often.
4. Make it a habit to pray on a prompt. Perhaps pray every time you fill a sippy cup or fix lunch. One friend prays every time she puts her child in for a nap. Communion with God can continue throughout the day, toddlers or not.
5. Listen to an online sermon while you work. (of course, if kids are screaming, this might not be an option.
6. Read Bible story books to your kids. Don’t laugh–I’ve learned a lot myself from reading to my kids!
7. Use a simple commentary and study just one portion or paragraph. Even if it is small, it will give you a deeper understanding of scripture.
8. Memorize scripture with your kids. Reading just one verse to your kids will benefit you as you recite it over and over. Getting God’s word into your hearts is always a good thing.
9. Find resources that have a Christian worldview and listen to them. Our kids loved Patch the Pirate CD’s. I think I have most of them memorized.
10. Listen to good Christian music. The words will help you keep a devotional heart.
These are just a few ways that I have found to be helpful. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t find huge chunks of time when your kids are young. Where there is a will, there is a way.
Do you have any other great ideas for younger moms? What did I miss? Share in the comments.
**PS: This question assumes that it will be easier for you to maintain your devotional life when your kids get older. While they may not pull your hair while you are trying to read, Satan will find other ways to try to pull you away. Any time you endeavor to do something spiritual, there will opposition from your flesh and the devil. Aren’t you encouraged, now? No, but really, there will always be something to draw you away. Thank God for the *grace* that his Holy Spirit has given you that desire to read and know Him! Then just do it!