My heart goes out to mothers of young children in many ways, but today I’m thinking of the area of trying to have any kind of time in the Bible. The time of life when my children were small was one of the hardest in which to have devotions. I hit one of my worst spiritual slumps after I had my second child. When my first child was asleep, I would try to decide between catching up on housework, reading my Bible, or sleeping. Often sleep won out. With my second baby, I also had a little preschooler, so “quiet time” was at a premium. I would get to the end of the day and tearfully say, “Lord, I just don’t know when I would have had time to have devotions!” I felt I began to “dry up” spiritually. I don’t think anyone noticed anything from the outside — at least, no one said anything. But I knew on the inside that I was just going through the motions.
The following is an excerpt from Climbing by Rosalind Goforth. This book shares a very human view of a woman after God’s own heart who also was “of like passions” as we are.
A devoted Christian missionary, Mrs. S, was holding a series of special meetings for our Christian women at Changte. On one occasion, this dear woman, who had no children, told me that I could never have the peace and joy I longed for unless I rose early and spent from one to two hours with the Lord in prayer and Bible study.
I longed intensely for God’s best — for all He could give me, not only to help me live the true Christian life but also for peace and rest of soul. So I determined to do what Mrs. S. had advised.
The following morning, about half-past five o’clock, I slipped as noiselessly as possible out of bed. (My husband had already gone to his study.) I had taken only a step or two when first one and then another little head bobbed up; then came calls of, “Mother is it time to get up?”
“Hush, hush, no, no,” I whispered as I went back, but too late; the baby had wakened! So, of course, the morning circus began an hour too soon.
But I did not give up easily. Morning after morning I tried rising early for the morning watch, but always with the same result. So I went back to the old way of just praying quietly — too often just sleeping! Oh, how I envied my husband, who could have an hour or more of uninterrupted Bible study while I could not. This led me to form the habit of memorizing Scripture, which became an untold blessing to me. I took advantage of odd opportunities on cart, train, or when dressing, always to have a Bible or Testament at hand so that in the early mornings I could recall precious promises and passages of Scripture.
Somehow the Lord helped me to change from that mindset of depression because there was no time to what Dr. Walter Fremont calls a “positive faith attitude.” I realized that if this was something I needed and that God wanted me to do, then there would be time somewhere in the day. I began to pray at the beginning of the day for the time and for the ability to recognize it.
Normally I need for things to be relatively quiet when I read my Bible, but He enabled me to be able to get something vital from the Word with children playing at my feet. I thrive best on some kind of regularity of schedule, but He enabled me to catch the odd moment here and there.
When there was a minute free and I wanted to relax with the newspaper or a book or the TV, and the Lord reminded me I hadn’t had time with Him yet…I am ashamed to admit my reaction was not often a spiritual one. A former pastor once said that one of his best times of prayer occurred when he had to begin by confessing he didn’t feel like praying. So sometimes I would have to put aside the book or magazine or remote control and confess that lack to the Lord. And so often He would give me something precious in those few minutes.
A friend with three little ones used to keep her Bible open in her kitchen and read a little off and on throughout the day. Some nursing moms have found that they could prop a Bible up on a nearby end table and read a little while feeding the baby Some listen to the Bible on CD while they dress or drive.
As my children got older, I could again get up for that early morning time, I would get discouraged if one of them woke up early and toddled out. But a friend told me an experience she had of accidentally walking in on her mom while she was praying and of the impact that had on her. So I thought then perhaps this might be of the Lord — maybe the sight of of mom in prayer and in the Word would be a blessing to my children. Often in that half-asleep state, they were content just to cuddle up beside me or on my lap, and I could continue quietly reading or praying. Sometimes when they were with me I would read and pray aloud. Even though I still preferred to have devotions alone with no distractions, God enabled me to put that aside and to concentrate and have some precious times with Him.
I just want to encourage you that somehow the Lord will meet you in your need. I had to realize that the regular schedule I thrived on just wasn’t going to be possible, and I had to trust the Lord to open up those little opportunities throughout the day and that He would meet with me then and give me what I needed. Even though I still prefer my “quiet” quiet time and my routine, those early-baby experiences stayed with me in later days when the usual schedule was overturned for some reason. He wants to meet with you as much — actually more — than you want to meet with Him, and He’s willing to do so at odd hours. And, as Elisabeth Elliot has written, He doesn’t mind of you bring your children along.