There's no substitute for an uninterrupted hour of prayer and Bible study, right? But with young children underfoot, daytime devotions seem like a pipe dream. Morning and evening devotions aren't always accessible either. Your newborn's 5:00 a.m. feeding sidelines your attempt to wake earlier for Bible study. When the children are finally in bed and you settle into a chair with your Bible, there's the inevitable whisper, "Mommy, I gotta go again."
"I just can't win," you wail. "My devotional life consists of five minutes of a sermon I hear in church before I carry out my crying toddler."
Just give up? Say "I'll see you in a few years, Lord, after they're all in college?" Of course not. Get creative. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Listen to worship material. You can do this while at home or driving. Choose Christian music that inspires you to give your heart to God, fall down and worship Him, or praise His name. The Bible and many other devotional books are available on tape as well. Pastor and evangelist Doug Batchelor and his wife listen to the Bible on tape as they fall asleep each night.
2. Use a devotional calendar with a verse or quote for each day. Keep it in a visible place that you frequent, such as the kitchen or above the diaper changing table.
3. Place a Bible or devotional book with very short paragraphs in the bathroom. When you sit, grab it. You can make it through a daily devotional for women, a short psalm, or a couple verses in Proverbs before you hear a plaintive "Mommy" from the other side of the door.
4. Read while you feed. If you're nursing an infant and older children can play quietly, read during that time. Babies older than 12 to 16 weeks might grab your reading material, so take advantage of those first fleeting months. But save your wrists! Try a small paperback such as Steps to Christ, by Ellen White.
5. Share the Bible with your children. Do you read to them at bedtime? Read the Bible. Try Psalm 145 and 150 or the Creation story (just not the battle or war stories in the Old Testament!). The psalms have come alive for me as I've read them again and again to my boys.
6. Keep a Bible open. Ruth Graham, the wife of Billy Graham and a mother of four, kept her Bible open in the kitchen all day during the busy child rearing years of her life. When she had a moment, she'd read a few verses.
7. Memorize Scripture. One of my favorite religion professors in college taught us to memorize Scripture by writing a verse on a 3" by 5" notecard and tucking it into a pocket. Read it over several times a day. By the end of the week, you have a verse of God's Word written in your heart.
8. Pray all day. Don?t limit your prayers to knee time by your bed. As you go through the day, ask God for patience with your kids and wisdom to know how to discipline. Intercede for the salvation of a non- Christian family member or friend. Don't talk to yourself; talk to God.
9. Arrange for a babysitter occasionally. We do it in order to meet work, hair, or doctor appointments. Isn't your relationship with God more important than work, hair, or health?
10. Schedule a slumber party with God. I've just begun to spend every other Saturday night praying. Waiting until everyone is asleep, I disregard my usual bedtime and talk to God leisurely about everything. What freedom and joy I have with no time constraints to cut short my prayers. It's like a slumber party with God. And I'm amazed that I'm never tired the next day, no matter how much sleep I forfeit. Christian writer Anne Ortlund, when she had three children under the age of 3, would wake at 2:00 a.m. to spend a quiet hour with God. So while time with God can fit into every part of your day, you still need some sustained, uninterrupted time with your Friend, the King of the universe.
Sandra Covell Dombrowski is a freelance writer and mother of two toddlers. Before kids, she taught high school English. She and her family live in Winchendon, Massachusetts. 980602