TGC’s “Thorns & Thistles” column seeks to apply wisdom with practical advice about faith, work, and economics. If you have a question on how to think about and practice your work in a way that honors God, let us know at [email protected].
I’m a busy mom, and I have trouble finding time to read the Bible. Where do I start to carve out time for this?
“A mother’s work is never done.”
“I can’t add one more thing to my plate.”
These are familiar sentiments, whether you work outside the home or primarily in the home. But the good news is, consistent Bible reading doesn’t require you to become a time management expert. In fact, you may just need to reconsider some of your assumptions. Let’s get started.
1. Ditch expectations and shift your focus.
Perhaps the most important step toward committed Bible study is throwing your idea of a “quiet time” out the window. Jen Wilkin changed my life profoundly when she explained this in Women of the Word. Don’t wait for perfect conditions. For most moms, your schedule won’t be clear. Your space won’t be quiet. Your coffee won’t be hot. But once you start to let go of what you think Bible reading “should” be, you’ll be free to discover what it can be.
When you think about reading the Bible, what are the “shoulds” that hit you immediately? “I should read more.” “I should set aside 30 minutes a day.” “I should sit down with a journal.” “I should feel inspired.”
Perhaps the most important step toward committed Bible study is throwing your idea of a ‘quiet time’ out the window.
As moms, we’re constantly bombarded with “shoulds” from external voices and from our own minds. If the Holy Spirit is nudging you toward reading the Bible, however, you can drop all of the “shoulds” you’re attaching to this activity at the foot of the cross.
Yes, you may need to change up your routine. You may need to think creatively to use time you didn’t think you had. But first, shift your focus from yourself and your time constraints to the Word itself.
Just what is this Word you’re considering reading? Listen to how powerful it is:
The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Heb. 4:12)
The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. (Ps. 119:130)
Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Rom. 10:17)
The power of the Word isn’t in your commitment to reading it. It’s in the Word itself.
Whether you read three verses or three chapters at a time, “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that [you] may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16–17).
Thanks to these strong truths, we can trust that our time in the Word—whenever and wherever that time is and however long it is—will be profitable.
2. Consider your goal.
What’s your goal in reading the Bible? Are you looking to feel uplifted or refreshed? While the Word can certainly evoke these feelings, separating feelings from Bible reading is important. That way, when you’re deep in priestly instructions on skin diseases in Leviticus, you won’t give up.
The goal of Bible reading isn’t achieving a certain feeling; it’s not checking a box on the to-do list. It’s adding incrementally, day by day, year by year, to your understanding of God’s character and your salvation. That deepening understanding leads to solid joy—not just a fleeting emotional boost—that will become the foundation for your life experiences.
3. Put a structure in place.
You can read anytime, anywhere, but it’s best to read in the context of a support structure.
Join a Bible study, or at the very least, find a reading partner and choose a Bible reading plan. Whether you’re reading through the entire Bible or studying one book, commit to reading the whole Scripture—not cherry-picking verses—with fellow believers. This holds us accountable and helps guard against interpretation errors, but it’s also a tremendous gift as we hear what the Holy Spirit is showing others.
4. Get the living water flowing.
Moms are constantly adapting and innovating. This is a huge advantage when it comes to committed Bible study. Could you work on Bible study homework alongside the child whose homework you’re supervising? Can you listen to an audio Bible while you’re on a walk with the stroller or at the gym? Press play while you’re driving or cooking?
I had to drop the notion that I “should” read the Bible on a printed page. That prevented me from reading when I was away from home or didn’t have room to open my giant study Bible. Using a Bible app has been a game changer. Now I can swap my scroll. In the time it would take to read a few Instagram posts, I can often read through a couple of chapters. The Word is always with me—in the carpool line, in the waiting room, while the child’s bathtub is filling.
Word Always Works
It is possible to study the Bible within the constraints of your life and work. After all, God gave us limitations, and he knows yours. Perhaps the most helpful and freeing thing is to drop your expectations of a “quiet time” and rest in the quiet power of the Word to do the work.
The Word is always with me—in the carpool line, in the waiting room, while the child’s bathtub is filling.
We have the Lord’s promise in Isaiah 55:11—“My word . . . that goes out from my mouth . . . shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
The Word will succeed. It will change you. It will do a great work in your heart and mind. And once that begins, you’ll have the desire to read more and more.