When You Struggle to Spend Time with God

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Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:38-42)

By the time my youngest son was born, my body was trashed. I had had 8 pregnancies total, and the last 3 children were born within 5 years. I had been exhausted during my pregnancy, and still felt incredibly tired, all the time. One day the scale scared me, and I decided I would let those numbers rise no more! The very next day, I took a walk. It was only 15 minutes, but it was something.

From there, I expanded my walk to 30 minutes, and then began jogging for one of my minutes. Each week I jogged another minute, and by the end of 9 months, I was actually jogging 20 minutes straight! …and I felt better than ever.

One of the things that was hard for me – besides learning to breathe – was the time it took to get back into shape. I am a homeschool mom, and have 7 children. That means a lot of laundry, and a lot of paperwork. But I needed to get myself into shape in order to better serve the Lord and my family, so I took the time, and I walked, ran and worked out.

And that’s the way it is spiritually. We can’t be in any sort of spiritual shape with just a wave at God in the morning, or a casual glance through the Scriptures on our way somewhere. It takes time to grow.

WHY WE NEED TIME WITH GOD:

We need His wisdom – “The entrance of Thy Word giveth light…”
We need His strength – “Without Me ye can do nothing…”
We need His presence – “If thou go not with us, carry us not thence…”
We need a relationship with Him – “When Thou sadist, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” Psalm 27:8

WHY WE DON’T SPEND TIME WITH GOD:

Busy
Selfish/Don’t feel like it
Perfectionism – if I can’t spend an hour, I’ll not spend any time at all…

Last week, someone asked me for some tips on having good devotions, because it was an area they struggle with. I know it has often been a struggle for me over the years, and it’s a common problem with many people as well. So I told them some of the pointers I’ve learned over the years, and things that have helped me.

This week, when I talked to her again, she excitedly told me, “I’ve grown so much this past week! I feel like I’ve actually been closer to the Lord than I’ve been in awhile, and I’m able to have good prayer times. And I’m so much less stressed! It’s simply amazing how a brief time in the Word of God and prayer energizes my day!”

Here are the things, plus a few others, that I shared with her last week:

WHEN WE’RE STRUGGLING TO SPEND TIME WITH GOD:

1. Decide that you WILL have devotions every day. It’s something non-optional in your day. It’s a decision already made. Not, “Do I have time for this? But, “I’m going to find time for this.”

2. Plan your day around it. Having a quiet time with the Lord before the day begins is the best time to do it. As Elizabeth Elliot says, If you can tell the Lord that morning just doesn’t work for you, He will help you find another time.

3. Prepare for it the night before. I’m a tea-in-the-morning person, so the night before, I fill the hot water dispenser with water, put a tea bag in my cup, and measure out the sweetener. I lay my spoon beside my cup, and cover it with a small wooden lid (it conveniently says “tea” on the top!) and I set my Bible at my table where I have my devotions. I even go so far as to get my breakfast ready the night before, because I’m usually so hungry in the mornings. It’s so easy just to pour my hot water, go to my seat and get out my Bible.

4. Plan your time. Strive to spend at least 15 minutes, if you’re just starting out. Soon you’ll find you want more!

5. Reduce interruptions. This is what kills the average Mom during Quiet Time. Notice I did not say “Eliminate interruptions!” If you have children, especially small ones, interruptions are a part of life.

a. But one way you can reduce interruptions is to simply get up 15 minutes earlier than the rest of the fam. That way you can have a bit of uninterrupted time with the Lord before having to face the demands of the day.

b. When the children get up, let them know you’re spending some time with Jesus, and you don’t want to be interrupted. We assume they know what’s going on, but I know when I was a kid, I was clueless to everything going on around me unless someone looked me in the eye and told me point-blank.

c. Use a Bible app that plays Bible out loud. That way the children know you’re having your devotions, and they’re less likely to interrupt you if they hear Bible playing.

d. For prayer time, try to go to a separate room, or assume a praying position (perhaps on your knees, with your eyes closed) so folks know you’re praying.

i. When the little ones come up and start banging on you, “Mom, Mom, Mom!” look up from prayer & hold your finger up and tell them, “Mommy’s praying right now. I’ll talk to you in a few minutes.” Then proceed to ignore them, unless of course it’s an emergency. You won’t be praying for hours, so there’s no real danger of true neglect!

ii. Resort to hiding, if absolutely necessary. When we lived in a motorhome, we had all 7 children in about 320 square feet of living space, and it was completely IMPOSSIBLE to get alone. So I did the thing that Susanna Wesley, mother of John and Charles Wesley, used to do – pull a blanket over my head. (She used an apron, but the principle is the same!) Funny how it is – it’s almost as if I disappeared!

6. Keep it Simple! We can easily complicate things by insisting that we have a journal with us and write in it daily, etc. but its best just to keep your Quiet Time as simple as possible. Last but not least, if you’re still having trouble…

7. Take a Media Fast – media may not be morally corruptive, but it does have a moral impact because of the things we could…& perhaps should – be doing instead.

One year in our travels, we were privileged to park our bus by a rather large church that had a gym attached to it. “Why don’t you come by the gym tomorrow morning? I’ve got a class I’m teaching, and you’re welcome to come work out with us,” the pastor told us after the Sunday evening service. I was trying to get more in shape, so I thought I’d give it a try.

I showed up early the next morning and joined their group. There were about 5 other ladies, all older (considerably!) and the pastor. He led us through a short warm up, and then we started the workout in earnest.

I know I wasn’t very much in shape, but I was quite a bit younger than those other ladies. I thought for sure I could do all those moves…but they showed me up! Those elderly energizer bunnies kept on going, smiling the whole time, while I slogged through the simplest maneuvers.

I went away from that workout sweaty, exhausted, and most of all, I learned something very important: never work out with elderly women! They work out like their very lives depend on it!

I talked with my elderly father about it a few days later, chuckling at my own lack of fitness, when he told me something that arrested my thoughts.

“They work out like their lives depend on it, because they really do!” he replied.

I thought to myself, My devotional time with the Lord should be like that…I should have my Quiet Times as though my life depends on them…because it really does!

What are some habits that you have learned that help you have good Quiet Times with the Lord?

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

8 comments

  1. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser says:

    Great thoughts and suggestions here!

    I’ve found that in dealing with a fatal illness, I’ve no real problems in spending time with God. It’s not that my immortal soul has suddenly become of sudden urgent interest; it’s more that a veil has been lifted, and I see a landscape that I was not privileged to observe before – and the only way I can truly see it is through the ‘filter’ of God’s presence in my life.

  2. Brenda says:

    “I should have my Quiet Times as though my life depends on them…because it really does!” ~ So true. 🙂 I love to keep my Bible open on my desk. I start my day in the Word, and then, throughout the day, as time permits, I try to read a verse or two when I’m able. Thanks for sharing these great tips today. Blessed to be your neighbor at the Titus 2sdays linkup today. 🙂

    • Lisa says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Brenda! I like the idea of keeping an open Bible on the desk. It’s a gentle solid reminder of the Lord and His Word throughout the day!

  3. Danielle says:

    I love the ideas you put forth in this post!!! I really want my readers to know about this too! I want to share this in my weekly series called “Roll Out The Red Carpet Thursday” – I share bloggers’ amazing posts that I’ve found during the week. I hope that’ ok! Have a great night!

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