3,832.5 hours—does that sound like a large amount of time? It does to me, especially since they are hours out of my own life. 3,832.5 represents the cumulative total number of hours I have spent in my personal, early-morning time alone with the Lord Jesus over the course of our twenty-one years of homeschooling. That daily half hour has been spent in Bible reading and prayer. Looking back and evaluating those hours, I can see that I could have used that time in many other ways. However, I am convinced there is nothing I could have done that would have been any more helpful to my personal life, my relationships with my family, my homeschooling, or my ministry than to have had an emphasis on time with Jesus.
How does any relationship grow? By investing time in it. That is certainly the case in my spiritual life. If I don’t spend time with the Lord Jesus, how will my relationship with Jesus be nourished, and how will I spiritually mature? My salvation, about thirty years ago, was only the beginning of a walk with Christ. That foundation is to be built upon. Frequently, via e-mail or in person after a conference session, a mom will ask questions about depression, anger, or worry because I share my struggles with those problems. When I question her as to whether or not she is spending time in the Word, she will indicate that she isn’t but knows it would be good if she were doing so.
What I needed to learn concerning dealing with depression, anger, and fear was going to come first and foremost through my personal Bible reading time. “Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors” (Psalms 119:24). That is God’s means of communication with me. His Word is to be my counselor—my teacher. “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes” (Psalms 119:71). As I struggle with sin and other difficulties, I am attentive in the Word to specific verses from Jesus Christ for me. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Using the individual and personal verses that I discover during my daily Bible reading, I also developed a topical notebook of verses. These verses are ones that are helpful to me in specific areas such as contentment, joy, impatience, and right thinking. Then when I am having trouble, I can pull my notebook out, turn to the needed section, and read through the verses. I have sometimes found it necessary to read the verses out loud to help bring my thinking back to God’s truth, especially when I am dealing with depression.
I approach my Bible reading in two ways. Most of the time, I read one chapter every day. Then I review the chapter again looking for a specific verse that stands out to me as pertinent to my life and needs that day. I keep a notebook with my Bible so that I can copy the verse into the notebook. Then I write a few sentences about how I see the verse’s application to me very specifically—how I am failing, what needs to change, what it would mean to me. When I am reading my Bible in this way, I usually start in Matthew and work my way up to or through Revelation and then begin again. Sometimes the Spirit will move me from my normal path of Bible reading to a different section of Scripture for a particular season.
Every few years, I feel the desire to have the complete Biblical perspective again by reading straight through the Bible from start to end. Then I will spend fifteen minutes of my time alone with the Lord reading straight through the Bible. I can usually read about three chapters a day, which is the pace that is necessary to read the Bible in a year. When there are longer chapters, I don’t mange to read three chapters, but then there will be other days when the chapters are shorter, and I can read more.
The second fifteen minutes of my personal time with Jesus is spent in prayer. I will pray throughout the day, but it isn’t the same as concentrated, uninterrupted prayer time. It is a little like the difference between my discussions with Steve when the children are around asking questions and inserting their thoughts into our conversations versus our talks when we are alone walking. We can still talk despite the children’s involvement, but it isn’t as focused as it is when it is just Steve and me. My prayer time in the morning allows me to address the major areas I want to pray about, not just the ones that are pressing at the particular moment. There are seasons when I use a prayer notebook. Here is a Mom’s Corner where I have shared specifics about using a prayer notebook.
In James we are told that God gives grace to the humble. “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). I know that I am extremely needy of God’s grace. If I won’t place time with Jesus Christ as a priority in my schedule, then in my pride, I am indicating that I can make it on my own without Him. I am turning my back on the grace that I desperately require in my life. The choice is set before me. What will my response be?
Being a Martha personality, I have seen that if I wait for an open time in my day—a convenient half hour or more to spend with the Lord—it simply doesn’t happen. I can stay busy all day with a hope in my heart to stop long enough to read my Bible and pray. However, the reality is that, like Martha, I keep busy doing what I think needs to be done, and I don’t choose that one good thing that Mary chose. “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 10:41-42). I have to plan my time with Jesus into my daily schedule and then be committed to it. My schedule is my helper to do those activities that are the most important to me.
“I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word” (Psalms 119:15-16). The truth of this should be obvious by my daily life. Am I spending private time in the Word and in prayer? May I encourage you to make this time with Jesus Christ a reality in your life? Rather than knowing that you should do it and that you would be benefited by it, why not simply begin to spend time with Him? I can promise you, your life will be changed!