The reason we don’t read the Bible is because we don’t want to read the Bible. – John Piper
Most days, I wake up after hitting snooze a few times, scramble out of bed, make sure the family is up and ready for the day, and then dive into my busy schedule. At the end of the day, it’s much the same – get dinner on the table and everyone off to bed before finally unwinding for the evening. I know I’m not alone in having a packed schedule. I’m always looking for a few moments here or there for a breather, and often find myself trying to cut back in certain areas in order to get some more free time.
Unfortunately, this often translates into less intentional time with God. Of course, the less time I spend with God, digging into His Word, and praying for my heart as well as the hearts of those around me, the guiltier I feel. This cycle only makes everything worse!
I get stuck in the mindset of, “If I can’t spend 30 minutes reading my Bible and praying, I might as well skip it altogether.” Either that or I push my devotional time around to fit my schedule that day. But without a consistent time or place, I inevitably forget or end up pushing my devotional time back for weeks or months, if I’m being honest.
If this sounds anything like you, I have some good news. Lamentations 3:22-23 tells us, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Thank the Lord for that! So often we feel like we’ve dug ourselves too deep to ever climb out of the hole, but all it takes is a prayer of confession and acceptance of God’s forgiveness. Amen to that!
Let’s take a look at three easy steps to carving out time for God in your daily life. We’ve already covered the huge step of confession and a clean slate that’s promised to us each time we ask. Now let’s see how to keep this momentum going!
When it comes to spending time reading the Bible and praying, so many of us see a checklist of things to do in order to be a “good Christian.” Think about what that attitude would look like in other relationships. Your best friend, for example. You probably don’t go out for coffee because you feel obligated, you go because you are excited to catch up. Or how about your spouse? Maybe you have to schedule in time to spend with them, but when you’re together, it’s because you genuinely enjoy their company and want to have time alone with your partner. The same principle applies to God.
He doesn’t want your obligatory 30 minutes of reading a chapter in the Bible and rattling off prayer requests. God wants your heart. He wants a relationship with you, one that’s based on love and healthy growth, not a checklist.
To that end, perhaps the most important question to ask yourself is, “Am I hungry for God?” It’s an uncomfortable question to ask, but necessary. John Piper puts it this way, “The reason we don’t read the Bible is because we don’t want to read the Bible.”
If you find yourself in the category of not desiring God, you’re certainly not alone. We all experience difficult seasons, mundane seasons, and busy seasons. Pray that God would give you a hunger for His truth, His Word, and His heart.
Carve Out Time
Perhaps the most common excuse for not spending time with God is that we’re busy. I don’t know about you, but I always think I’m going to be less busy later. I have a lot going on right now, but next month, my schedule will be less hectic. Or at the end of the summer, I’ll have more time to dedicate to this project. The thing is, I never end up having more time – I always fill extra time with something else!
That’s why it’s important to really figure out what your priorities are, and what things you can put on the back burner. Praying and reading the Bible often get categorized as “back burner” things since you don’t immediately see the effects of putting them off for a while. Whereas putting off grocery shopping, let’s say, will result in immediate rebellion from the kiddos.
But I think we all know the eternal significance of our relationship with God. Plus, we do sometimes see immediate results when it comes to spending time in the Word or not spending time in the Word.
So, do what you need to do to carve out time for God. It looks different for everyone. Some people set their alarm twenty minutes earlier and start the day with prayer. I’m not one of those people. Mornings are not a good time for me, and I find trying to get up earlier only results in me being cranky or me sleeping in and feeling guilty AND cranky. Instead, I’ve scheduled my daily time with God in the evenings, after dinner. I know I’m always going to eat dinner, so it’s easier to form a habit around something that’s already a part of my schedule. And speaking of habits…
Build a Habit
Here is where desire meets discipline. Hopefully, you do have a desire to spend time with God, but even if you’re still praying for God to change the desires of your heart, it’s good to get a habit started! The temptation is to focus too much on the habit and not on the heart, which is when we get into the checklist mindset.
On the other hand, not forming habits at all often leads to a lazy, undisciplined life. I can certainly attest to this. On the occasional day when nothing is scheduled, I don’t do anything. Don’t get me wrong, rest is good. But we’re called to rest in the Lord, and not necessarily in our pajamas watching TV all day.
So, how should you begin building a daily habit? For starters, don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you’re not regularly praying and reading your Bible, then jumping headfirst into an hour a day isn’t going to be sustainable. Start with 5 or 10 minutes a day. Again, God wants your heart, not your checklist. If you can prayerfully focus and absorb God’s word for 5 minutes, that’s far more impactful than an hour of skimming long passages and scribbling down long-winded prayers in a journal.
Another pitfall some people fall into is getting discouraged when they miss a day (or week). While you’re building your habit, there are going to be times you skip or forget or let something else take up that time. Don’t be discouraged! As we’ve already talked about, God’s mercies are new each day, so keep at it!
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5SKM: below-content placeholder