As Christians, we know we’re supposed to spend time with God every day. Usually, this is through Bible reading or study and prayer in what many people call a quiet time or devotional time. Sounds great in theory, but how do you make time for God?
Let’s face it, life is full of responsibilities. Whether you have a job outside the home, are a student in college, run a home-based business while the kids are in school, are a single parent, or retired – you have responsibilities that seem to take every minute of the day. From the time the alarm rings in the morning until your head hits the pillow at night, you’re on the go. And time for God? That too often gets shoved out by more urgent demands.
I’ve been there – and honestly, I sometimes return.
I remember as a young mother desperately trying to get up before my boys so I could have my devotional time. But it didn’t work. As if they had a sixth sense, if I got up at 7:00, they were up at 7:05. If I got up at 6:00, they were up by 6:10. Same thing at 5:30 and 5:00. I confess, I never tried earlier than 5:00!
Despite being a morning person all through college – I then started trying to do my devotions in the evening. But so often, I was too tired to even think straight. Mothers of young children – I feel your pain!
Then there was homeschooling and baseball games and returning to college for my master’s degree and working as a teacher. It was always something. Now I don’t teach anymore, my kids are grown, and – although I take care of my grandsons during the day – my schedule is easier to manage. But even so, time for God is sometimes a challenge. Just like it is for you.
So – what do you do? How do you squeeze one more thing into your already over-crowded schedule? How do you make time for God?
Time for God Must be a Priority
To make time for God you must first decide that time with God is your first priority. Honestly, making the commitment won’t make finding the time easier, but it will motivate you to make that time. Once you determine that time with God is a non-negotiable in your life, you will begin to view other commitments, responsibilities, and habits differently.
To live out this priority, you may have to make some hard choices.
- Do you sleep in or go to bed earlier so you can get up earlier?
- Do you cut down on your TV or Netflix so you can get in your time with God?
- Can you pray while walking instead of listening to a podcast?
- Can you have 5 minutes of Bible time with the kids at breakfast?
- Do you really need to volunteer for one more thing?
- Where can you say no, so you can say yes to God?
I find that the earlier in the day I can make time for God, the greater the chance is that it will get done. I know all the arguments in favor of doing your devotions at the time that works best for you – whether morning, afternoon, or evening. But I also know that the reality many times is that the later you plan on having your devotional time, the more other things are likely to interfere.
Think about it – and ask yourself if this is true in your life. Does putting your quiet time at the end of the day show God is your priority? If you honestly believe later is better for your life, go for it. But if you think you might be sabotaging yourself, rethink that decision.
Let Go of Perfection
Maybe you think, “If I can’t spend at least 20 minutes in my Bible and prayer, it isn’t worth it.” I understand the feeling. But can I encourage you to let that go? Any time with God is worthwhile.
During some seasons of life it will be challenging to find 5 minutes for a bathroom break, let alone 20 minutes for Bible reading. At other seasons, you may find you have plenty of time and can indulge in an hour a day. Wherever you are in your life, God knows. He understands and He is always there. Even if it’s just for 5 minutes at a time.
Along those same lines, you need to use your time with God to focus on the right thing.
It’s a Relationship, Not a Checklist
The Lord wants to spend time with you. He wants to hear what is weighing you down, receive your worship, and speak peace and comfort into your soul. But He isn’t looking to become one more item on your to-do list.
What that looks like practically will vary, but could include
- Having devotions with only praying and praising
- Reading only 2 verses of Scripture and then asking the Holy Spirit to let you know how to live them
- Spending those precious 5 minutes singing a worship song directly to Jesus
- Reading one paragraph in a devotional and the verse it focuses on – then committing to share that message with someone else during the day.
- Having a prayer list on your phone so you can come to the throne at all the odd moments of the day – knowing He hears and will answer
- Asking the Father to open your eyes to ways to make more time with Him
Be creative – our God certainly is! And focus on Him – listening to and talking to your Lord and Savior. It delights God’s heart and will quickly become a high point in your day.
Prepare & Plan for Your Time with God
I’ve talked about this before. If you can only manage a few minutes at a time with the Lord, don’t use those minutes searching for your Bible, devotional, or prayer list. Have everything you need for your devotions gathered into one place. A box, a basket, a table, a shopping bag, a nightstand. It doesn’t matter where – as long as everything you need is in one place.
I’ve even created a printable (available in the Resource Library)with 10 questions to ask yourself while planning and preparing for quiet time. The 3 basic questions to consider are
- Where will you have your devotions?
- When will you have your devotions?
- What will you need for your devotions?
Planning ahead by gathering your supplies and having a set time and place will put you into the right frame of mind for following through on this highest priority.
Questions to Answer About Your Time
Full disclosure: I’m about to get personal.
Here’s the truth – we all have 24 hours in a day. Sometimes you may use your time wisely. Sometimes you may make poor choices and end up wasting an entire day. You’re not alone – everyone faces the same struggle.
But before I jump in further, let me just stop a moment and say it is OK to take it easy, to have downtime, to take a break for a few minutes, an entire day, or even a week or two. I’m not talking about the need for breaks in our lives. I’m talking about time-wasting habits we refuse to drop.
Only you know where you are wasting time that could be spent with Jesus. But, and here’s the personal part, below is a list of things to make you think. Be honest with yourself as you go through this list. Ask yourself if doing this or that item is more important to you than spending time with God. If the answer is ‘yes,’ – then it’s time for some old-fashioned, Biblical, and freeing repentance!
Questions to consider:
- How much time do you binge-watch Netflix or other streaming services?
- Do the shows you watch increase your faith or promote a godless lifestyle?
- Does watching more than 1 hour of shows at a time make you feel more or less motivated to do something else – like to meet with God?
- Do you spend a lot of time reading trashy novels?
- I’m all for reading – but is your reading material strengthening your faith or numbing you to your life?
- How much time each day do you spend on screens: social media, streaming services, video games?
- How could you shorten that time (social media, streaming, games) to free up time for God?
- If you asked someone who really knows you well, how would they evaluate your use of time?
- Do you sleep until you absolutely must get up and must rush around every morning to get ready for the day?
- Do you choose to sleep instead of meeting with Jesus?
- What would it take for you to change your morning so that you could get up 30 minutes earlier?
- If a total stranger looked at how you spend your time, what would she conclude about what is most important to you?
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Honestly look at your choices in time usage – and see where you can find more time for God.
Make a Commitment
If you struggle with finding time for God, I urge you to make a 40-day commitment to spending time with Him every day. The Bible is full of examples of 40: 40 days of rain for Noah, 40 days in the wilderness for Jesus, 40 years in the wilderness for Israel, 40 days on the mountain when Moses received the 10 Commandments, 40 years of peace under several different judges (Judges 3:11; 5:31: 8:28); David was king 40 years. There is more, but you get the idea.
Making a 40-day commitment will challenge you to find that time, to eliminate those distractions, to set that alarm clock. In 40 days, God can completely change your heart and your relationship with Him. Give Him your time for 40 days. I have a new 40-day challenge printable available for you in the Resource Library! Join my email list and get instant access!
Get out your calendar right now and mark out your 40-day commitment. Start tomorrow. Use today to plan and prepare. Print out a calendar to mark off the 40 days. As you see the days you fulfill your commitment growing, you’ll be more motivated to continue.
One more thing: ask God during these 40 days to work a miracle in your heart. Something undeniable and indescribable that will mark this 40-day commitment as a turning point in your walk of faith.