Busy Bible Reading

When I was a young mom, reading the Bible regularly was always a challenge for me. I went in spurts and starts. I always loved reading the Bible, but not enough to make it happen every day. I remember I used to wonder what it was that hindered me. After all, I made dinner every day even though I didn’t always feel like it. I showered. I brushed my teeth. I did countless other duties day in and day out. Why was Bible reading so hard to fit it? Actually,  I  made it way too hard on myself and set up ridiculous and unrealistic standards and hurdles.

First of all, I was tempted to stop and analyze my problem. “Why don’t I read my Bible more? I wonder what the problem is?” What  I should have done instead was say to myself, “I know! Rather than trying to figure out why I don’t read my Bible more, why don’t I just pick it up and read it right now?” If only I had thought of that back then. Even if I had only read a verse or two, it would have been much better than contemplating the causes of my erratic Bible reading.

Second, I think I was coming to the Bible trying to be a super-Bible-reader. I was going to the Bible looking for a “devotional experience,” and I seldom had one. So I figured that I must not be reading deeply enough or thoughtfully enough. This just bogged me down so that I was trying hard to digest each word. That is not reading! It is sort of like taking each bite of the food on your plate and trying to taste it to the fullest, getting every bit of flavor out before pressing on to the next bite. This would be terribly tedious and wouldn’t improve your dining experience at all. In fact, dinner would be just so many bites and not really a meal at all. When I put such high expectations on my reading, I  kept going back and re-reading anything I thought I had glossed over too lightly. This made reading through the Bible more like a hard assignment than a time of refreshment, so no wonder I drug my feet.

Third, I had a perception about a daily “quiet time” that imposed a super-law on myself. If I read my Bible, I could tick off the box and feel good about my spiritual discipline. But if I didn’t read the Bible, I flunked. This leaves God entirely out of the equation. Who said I have to read my Bible and have a “devotional experience” every day? Daily Bible reading is a great idea, but it is not a work that we do to impress God. Rather than viewing it as a means of meeting with God and growing in grace, I saw it as an end in itself. “Whew! I did my Bible reading for the day.”

Fourth, I didn’t always know where to read. I used some reading charts that helped, but then I got stalled out by ticking off the boxes again. And when you are a busy mother with many distractions, who has time to read a whole chapter? I would lose my place and forget what I’d read the day before.

Finally, reading seemed like it was the ultimate bonus after getting all my work done. This was probably my biggest hindrance to regular Bible reading because when, oh when, was all the work done? And by that time, I’m was too tired to read.

All this sounds pretty dreadful, but I did keep plugging along.

Now I don’t know if any of you find that you are hindered by any of these things. But if so, let me just urge you to quit analyzing and start reading. Relax. Enjoy the story God has written for us. Put a bookmark in the OT and another one in the NT and just start reading a bit every day. Grab a moment here and there. Don’t worry about trying to find a chunk of uninterrupted time because you might never find it. Keep your Bible handy. Listen to it on tape. Sing it. Love it.





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29 thoughts on “Busy Bible Reading

  1. This is excellent. Thanks so much for the reminder and inspiration. It doesn’t have to be hard, does it?

  2. This is a lovely, grace-full testimony. Thank you for sharing this so that other moms can know that others have struggled with this, too. At fifty I don’t have the same struggles as I did when my children were little, but I still need the reminder that the Christian life is about our relationship with God, not checking off boxes.

    Reading is something that I really enjoy. Something an older mom shared with me that I found helpful was the advice to not pick up another magazine or book through the day unless I had spent some time reading the Bible first. That helped me prioritize what little free time I did have.

  3. Thank you. Just last week I listened to your husbands recent sermon on this exact topic and have since felt a freedom in bible reading that I’ve never experienced before. To just read it. I, like you, thought I had to wring every little drop of spiritual goodness out of the word before I could move on and got bogged down in every detail. (I wonder if this particulay something we women struggle with? My husband has no problem just reading through the Bible quite quickly). Now I’m just reading some OT and some NT every day and being refreshed and nurtured. Even my kids are joining in. This morning I was reading aloud through some of Exodus and my kids ended up acting out Moses and Aaron going before Pharaoh. My 4 year old son loved turning his rod into a (toy) snake…And striking the river (a rug) to turn it into blood.
    So thank you for further encouragement to keep in the word.

  4. Love this encouragement. Especially for those who have grown up in the church, it’s quite a common temptation to feel like an “experience” needs to be had. Both you and your husband make the excellent point that when it comes to the words of God, we just need to eat! It’s not up to us to figure out how the nourishment will come. What a joy and relief to know (once again)that this burden is not on us!

  5. THANK YOU! Each of the specific struggles you mentioned are areas I’ve wrestled with – to the point that I’ve been giving up on even trying to get in the Word for a number of months now. This really encouraged me…just the reminder that my job is to open and read, and the Lord’s job is to speak through His Word. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  6. I think you’ve been spying on my life. Seriously. I think God purposefully put this post in my path to encourage me to just pick up my bible already! I’ve gotten so caught up on the Bible Reading plans, the deep spiritual experience and checking off my boxes that I’ve allowed myself to lose sight of what’s really important. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Been there, done that. I do remember propping my Bible up in front of me while I ate breakfast when the kids were little. Even in growing in your Christian life it is better to take one verse and obey it than to just consume chapters. Told my dad recently that I was working on memorizing a favorite chapter. His response was: Great! Let me know when you get it memorized and then let me know when you obey it.

  8. Thank you so much. My eyes teared up reading it. We have 7 children ages 10 years on down to 7 month old twins and I especially identified with the part about imposing “super-law” on myself. I want to spend large chunks of meaningful time in the Word, but somehow don’t usually find the time for that. Then I start feeling discouraged. Thank you so much for the encouragement. What a blessing!

  9. So fitting and encouraging! I remember you once saying something to the effect that the Bible is like a letter and is the greatest story, so read it that way. Just read it! Don’t worry if you missed something because you’ll soon be reading it again. That has helped me so much through these little people years!

  10. Yes! I am, and have been, bogged down by all of the traps you wrote about. What a relief to read it from a woman whom I admire. I think I’ll go read my Bible now. Thanks for taking time to write.

  11. I needed to read this today. I’ve been falling into the “quiet time” trap where I feel like it doesn’t count unless I’ve got 45 minutes to pray, read, consult commentaries, and journal. Oh, and all before the rest of the family wakesup. I’m pregnant and have a toddler, a 4yo, and a homeschooled fourth grader, so that happens just about never. I needed to hear that just reading a little every day is okay.

  12. So SO good, Nancy! What you shared is so simple, yet so freeing! I’ve been in “analysis paralysis” for years about my bible reading since becoming a mother. It’s become a heavy weight. Thanks is much for helping lift that weight. I’m excited to pick my bible up again!! 🙂

  13. Thanks for the encouragement! I found myself chuckling in a few places, especially at: “Whew! I did my Bible reading for the day.”

  14. I definitely get into checking the boxes too often. Your reading plan sounds like a great way to remove the guilt of falling behind. Thanks for the idea and for illustrating freedom and joy rather than performance.

  15. This is me. Thanks for the wise advice. I’m just jumping in with an audio bible from the bible gateway app.

  16. Thank you Mrs. Wilson. Sometimes it seems like I’m the only one I know who really struggles here. Thanks for the practical bookmark idea. Think I’ll go find some, along with my Bible, and read a little. It never returns void, right?

  17. Thank you for your wisdom and encouragement, Nancy. These are all the same mistakes I’ve been making. I’m going to go read right now. My darlings are all napping or playing with their Daddy so no time like the present! Blessings!

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