It wasn’t until the twins were born that I finally granted myself the grace to NOT have a daily quiet time with God. There was something about adding those two little swaddled babies to our family that allowed me to admit that I would simply not be able to do it all. And I understood that meant that there would be days I would have neither the time nor energy to isolate as large a portion of the day for Scripture reading and prayer as I was used to. Which isn’t to say that I bagged on Jesus till we were sleeping through the night again. It simply means I breathed in grace and believed something more firmly about the goodness of God. Whether or not I had the capacity for drawing near to Him in the ways I was used to, I began believing He stood steadfast. I asked God to grant me the time I needed with Him to sustain spiritual strength, and I looked for new ways to commune with Him throughout the day.
I’d tell anyone I know (if they asked) that I absolutely believe working towards establishing the spiritual discipline of regular prayer and Scripture reading is important, critical. But I’d also like to tell pregnant mothers and mothers of nursing babies and mothers chasing their toddlers around all day¾that you can meet Jesus in your day in new ways even if you can’t find a regular rhythm of a “quiet time” or hit what was once your spiritual stride.
And there is actually something that can heal in you as your days bulge thick with the busyness of children. Remember all those neat and tidy compartments your life used to have before children? Maybe you sipped steamy coffee, read your Bible, and went off to work in the mornings of your former life. And how easy was it then when, once you’d had your “quiet time,” to conveniently tuck Jesus in your pocket for the rest of the day, pulling Him out only as often as you needed a tissue? Having children can heal those fissures, stitch up those seams that may have once been yours: between sacred and secular, quiet time and life. All of you can now belong more firmly to God.
The challenge of babies and toddlers and little ones underfoot is that you have so little time to yourself. And when you do, all you want to do is either find the bottom of your kitchen sink. Or, you want to sleep. (Which reminds me of a favorite verse from those exhausted years: “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep,” Psalm 127:2.) And should you choose to do the dishes or to nap, can you do those with your heart still given fully to God?
Until life grants you a bit more breathing room, until those babies sleep, until the fog of motherhood lifts a little, here are ways I found to commune with Jesus all throughout the day.
- Listen to Scripture. Get the Bible Gateway app (free!). I’m stuck in Genesis, people. This is a book with so much to absorb!
- Listen to sermons. There are so many excellent podcasts out there. Of course I think the preaching done at our church (Grace Toronto) is some of the best out there!
- Listen to worship music. How many times have I let songs do the hard work of praying when I feel too exhausted for words? Thank you, Phil Wickham, Sandra McCracken, and the Seeds Family worship albums.
- Keep a small notebook of verses propped on display. When I didn’t have as much time for extended Scripture reading, I’d find one verse, copy it into my notebook and meditate on that verse as often as I was at the sink or nursing babies.
- Keep a prayer list in that same notebook. Assign Mondays to family, Tuesdays to your small group, etc. Pray as you fold and stir.
- Pray the offices. If you aren’t sure what this means, go to www.divinehours.org. You can also get their app (not free, though), and you can instantly log into 4 portions of Scripture readings and prayer to be prayed through at 4 set times during the day (breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedtime). I LOVE THIS.
- Read and pray with your children. Don’t underestimate this. I’ve so often cried as I’ve been reading and praying with my children because God has spoken something directly to me.
- Grow in the discipline of thanksgiving. There’s no one better than Ann Voskamp to talk about this. Get her book, One Thousand Gifts, and learn to keep your eyes wide open for God’s good gifts of gift falling from your sky today.
- Commit a passage of Scripture to memory. Put this in your notebook on display. Better yet, memorize Scripture with your children. And let those words seed faith and praise all throughout your day.
- Take a nap. Sleep is sometimes the best way to admit that you depend on grace. As you lie down, thank God that He holds the world in its spinning. Take up His invitation to you to lead you beside still waters and green pastures. And believe the Shepherd keeps faithful, vigilant watch.