It’s easy to become discouraged when our lives look so far from the “Instagram-worthy” vignettes we imagine for ourselves. Our time with God does not escape this critical comparison. What can we do about devotional time when time seems so short?
A Mother’s Desperate Need
I woke up this morning to my three-year old demanding a “gwanola baw” and my six-year old alerting me to the giant wad of Silly Putty smashed into our couch cushion. Needless to say, I’m not currently in a season of Instagram-worthy quiet times. There’s no hot cup of tea or faintly glowing candles here—just a tired mama in desperate need of Christ each day.
What does time with God look like during this physically demanding season of motherhood? I’m still trying to figure that out for myself! But here are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way:
1) Set God always before you.
Because I can’t typically steal away for hours at a time to commune with God, I try to keep him and his word in front of me from morning to evening. This can take a lot of different forms:
- Reading or listening to a devotional (I love the Solid Joys podcast from Desiring God and New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul David Tripp)
- Leading Bible time with my kids at the kitchen table
- Listening to podcasts or worship music while I’m doing dishes
- Glancing up at the Bible verse art on my walls
- Studying the Bible while my kids play at the park
- Praying in the shower
- Memorizing a Bible verse in the school pick-up line
As David said, “I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8 ESV)
2) Pray the scriptures.
I’ve found the practice of praying scripture to be incredibly freeing during this season. On a practical level, it’s helpful when my brain is foggy. I don’t have to muster up my own words, but can rely instead on the words of God.
In addition, allowing God’s word to guide my prayers keeps my heart and mind stayed on Christ and not myself. Instead of coming to God with a laundry list of people and circumstances I’d like for him to change, the Holy Spirit often uses God’s word to lift my eyes in praise and adoration towards Christ. Praying the scriptures also ensures that I’m not praying according to my own will but according to the will of God as revealed through his word.
3) Slow down.
I used to feel pressured (by no one other than myself) to read full chapters of the Bible every time I opened it up. I now find that it’s easier to digest God’s word when I study it in bite-sized pieces.
Crossway ESV Scripture Journals are great for moms because they easily fit in a purse or diaper bag. Each one contains the full text from a book of the Bible with plenty of space for note-taking. When I have a few minutes, I open up my journal and slowly make my way through one little section (typically no more than one subheading)—taking the time to circle repeated words, look up words I don’t know, explore the cross-references, and jot down anything I learn about God and his character. There’s no magic formula here. My goal is simply to slow down enough that I can observe the text, meditate on it, and apply it to my life.
I also write a one-sentence takeaway for myself in a running Google Doc. It can be anything really—a summary sentence, a prayer, a truth to believe, a sin to confess, or a command to obey. This exercise helps me comprehend what I’m reading, and it’s also great for looking back and remembering what God has been teaching me through his word.
Strengthen Me According to Your Word
Friends, it doesn’t have to be quiet for God to speak to us through his word. He knows the distractions and physical limitations we face, and he rewards those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6). By his grace and with a little creativity, I’m convinced we can find moments throughout our days to come to him and say, “Father, I’m weak. Strengthen me according to your word” (Psalm 119:28). Be assured, he will hear that prayer, and he’ll be faithful to answer it.
Chelsea Stanley has been called a child of God, and so she is. She’s also a wife to her high school sweetheart, a #boymom of three, and a member of Crossway Community Church in Bristol, Wisconsin where she serves on the women’s ministry team. Chelsea has written for Desiring God, Risen Motherhood, and Unlocking the Bible, and she loves helping women apply the truth of the gospel to daughterhood at her own blog, Daughter Redeemed. Connect with her on Instagram or Facebook.