As moms we are often so busy taking care of the needs of our families that we can hardly find the time to take care of ourselves! Unfortunately, it is our time alone with God that ultimately seems the most expendable and easy to eliminate. In reality, though, it is our time with Him that is most needed to sustain and guide us through these busy seasons of life, and our heart begins to cry out,
“How can I consistantly incorporate prayer and quiet time into each day?”
The following article was taken from the series CREATIVEMOTHERING, by Leslie Ludy, and presents some creative ways to add this essential element back into our daily lives. To read other excerpts from this series, visit www.setapartmotherhood.com or click the banner below.
In previous articles, we’ve talked about the importance of keeping prayer a priority, even during the early child-raising years. As I shared in the Christ-Centered Mothering series:
A common mentality among moms today is “I can’t afford time in my schedule for prayer.” But the reality is this: “As Christian mothers, we can’t afford NOT to make time in our schedule for prayer.” Prayer may not seem very practical when you have young children. But there is almost always a way to make time for prayer if we are truly committed to it.
Even though I feel passionately about making prayer and time with God the foundation of my every day, I must admit there are seasons when this principle can seem next to impossible to apply. Take, for instance, the past three months. Our new toddlers, Rees and Lily, arrived home from Haiti just a day before my first annual Set Apart Motherhood conference. Amid the flurry of preparation, emotion, and celebration surrounding their arrival, the busyness of the conference, and having a very full house of people for two weeks (Rees and Lily’s two foster-mommys who cared for them in Haiti stayed with us during their transition), there was the jarring adjustment to suddenly having six children instead of four. I’ve had to re-acquaint myself with the unique challenges of having not only one toddler in the family, but two.
Raising four young children while being in full-time ministry has always been a challenge, but throwing two toddlers into the mix took the challenge to a whole new level. Suddenly the noise level in the house increased exponentially and every moment of my day and night seemed to be claimed with cleaning up messes, working through toddler meltdowns, breaking up sibling squabbles, preparing endless amounts of snack foods, and desperately trying to keep our family of eight organized in the midst of it all.
From there, we headed into the craziness of the holidays, where the kids’ normal routine was thrown out of whack, much of our regular support system was temporarily stripped away, the weather was bad, and I had six hyped-up children running around the house all day long, in the midst of holiday parties and hosting several gatherings at our house. A week after Christmas, we left for a two week family vacation in Florida, and while the actual vacation was refreshing, the process of packing eight people for a two-week trip (which included bringing a lot of our own food and having very limited luggage space to work with) was nothing short of exhausting.
Though I am an energetic person, I have definitely felt the physical and emotional strain of this season, and it’s been a time when it has seemed far less practical to incorporate prayer and quiet times into my daily life.
However, I know from experience that when I feel too busy to cultivate my relationship with Christ, I actually need time with Him more than ever. Only He can give me the grace, strength, and Heavenly perspective needed to navigate challenging seasons with triumph instead of defeat. During these extra-busy seasons, a little creativity can go a long way in helping my relationship with Christ remain strong.
I’d like to share a few practical things that have helped me continue to grow spiritually even through the whirlwind of the past three months:
I love the Word of Promise because it is beautifully scored and uses professional actors to make the Bible come to life. The fact that it is an audio Bible allows me to meditate upon Scripture while doing other tasks or driving in my car. Even during seasons when I can’t spend hours physically reading my Bible, I can still spend hours listening to the life-giving words of Truth and allowing them to penetrate my heart and soul. I have the Word of Promise app on my iPad, and for the past several months I have been listening to the M’Cheyne 365 Day Plan (available on the Word of Promise app) which takes you through the entire Bible in a year, rotating between sections of the Old and New Testament rather than just starting at Genesis and going straight through to Revelation. Amazingly, whatever section of the Bible happens to be playing on a particular day seems to always be exactly what I need to hear at that moment. Even on days when my actual quiet time seems relatively short, I can extend that time in God’s presence by playing the Word of Promise and meditating upon these life-giving Scriptures as I get ready in the morning. Later in the day, if I find myself folding laundry, organizing a closet, or driving alone in my car, I’ll continue listening where I left off. As I listen, I ask God to show me ways in which the Words I’m hearing can mold the direction of my life and shape my daily decisions. If a Scripture particularly stands out to me, I’ll quickly jot it down or make a note in my digital journal, so that I can dive more deeply into the verse next time I am sitting down to study the Bible.
As a busy mother in ministry, the idea of sitting down to read a book is almost laughable during this season of my life. Eric and I sometimes look back with wistful longing upon the days in which we used to spend Sunday afternoons sitting in our cozy living room chairs reading Christian biographies. With six little ones constantly needing our time and attention, it will likely be many years before we have that luxury again. Christian biographies have been one of the greatest boosts of strength to my spiritual life throughout the years, but reading them is just not practical right now. And yet, audiobooks are a great option to help me stay up with my reading. I can listen to them while I drive, cook, clean, organize, or sit in a waiting room.
To be honest, it took me a while to get excited about the concept of listening to audiobooks. The thought of an audiobook always made me picture a monotone reader droning on for hours about boring, academic subjects. But to my surprise and delight, I’ve discovered that audiobooks have come a long way in recent years, especially when it comes to powerful, life-giving, edifying Christian biographies. Audible.com has a plethora of classic Christian biographies that are beautifully written and professionally read.
Through the medium of audiobooks, over the past six months I have visited Nazi prison camps in Germany; trekked into the dangerous jungles of head-hunter territory in New Guinea; gone along on Bible-smuggling missions into Communist countries; experienced Japanese imprisonment and torture during World War II; learned how to reach gang members and drug addicts in America; and accompanied heroic missionaries into China, Africa, and India as they spread the Gospel to the lost.
When prayer times are shorter than usual, keeping a prayer list can help me stay focused and sharp when I am laying my cares at Jesus’ feet. During my quiet time or times when Eric and I are talking and praying together, I will often write down what I refer to as a “sacred list”—a list of the things I feel God is currently pressing upon my heart. This list includes things such as a behavior issue in one of my children, a particular challenge I am facing in my daily home life, needs of people that God has laid on my heart, or wisdom for an important ministry decision. While it isn’t always possible to spend hours wrestling in prayer over these issues, bringing these requests before God each day allows me to wrestle for them through consistency and persistence. Keeping a prayer list helps me remember not to wane in my faith and presses me to continue coming to God with a childlike expectancy until the answer comes. Keeping a prayer list also helps me see His faithfulness in my life, as I see the breakthroughs come time and time again.
These days, busy women are often looking for ways to somehow cram prayer, Bible study, and spiritual growth into their crazy, out-of-control schedules. Many of us are drawn to the “two minutes a day” version of reading the Bible, or quick and easy devotionals that take one minute to read and digest. But dumbing-down our spiritual lives and adopting a shallow interaction with Truth is not the answer in busy seasons. During times when our little ones seem to demand every spare ounce of time and energy we possess, it is still possible to grow spiritually, gain a deeper understanding of Truth, and grow closer to Jesus Christ. It simply requires dedication and a little creativity.
I encourage you to prayerfully consider ways in which you can add spiritual depth to your life even if you are feeling pressed for time. For example, can you spend time in prayer while nursing your baby? Can you listen to an audio version of the Bible while rocking your child at night or folding laundry? Is there a time during the course of the day when your children are resting, playing quietly alone (such as “room time” or “blanket time”) when you can journal or study the Bible? Can you place Scriptures in strategic places around the house to help you meditate on Truth as you go about your daily tasks? Can you have hymns or inspiring worship songs playing in the background as you spend time with your children?
When we are purposeful about keeping Christ at the center of our existence, we will find every bit of grace and victory we need for the daily challenges that come our way.