I often get asked how I find time to spend with God as a parent of four kids. I wanted to share my strategy for making time for the most valuable things in life, even when there seems to be no time. I’m focusing on the need for connection with Jesus, in order to live an intentional and strategic life. I’m including some practical ideas that have been very helpful to me. I also want to share the story that changed the way I looked at my time!
- Prioritize & Premeditate. Schedule on your calendar, 5 minute blocks of time to sit, listen, pray, journal, read, process. Make it 10 minutes when you’re realizing – ‘hey I can do this!’ Premeditated use of time maximizes how much we can squeeze in! So decide what you’ll do with your 5-10min. Sometimes I literally just lay on the floor and cry, sharing my burdens. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I write prayers. It’s ok to let our kids know they shouldn’t disturb us. The truth is our kids need to know that there is something more important to us than just their comfort and happiness. The wise parent knows that we’re best able to care for and love our kids when we’re encouraged and focused. I have vivid memories of coming downstairs in the early morning to find my dad kneeling by our couch, praying. My mom would frequently go hide in the car once my dad got home from work to read her bible. They didn’t have to convince us that their lives revolved around Jesus – that focused prayer was an essential part of that – we saw it by the way they lived. So when I decided to follow Jesus? I had a model of what that involved. I want to be the same to my kids and everyone watching my life!
- Music. I often put a song on repeat. For long periods of time. This one may drive everyone around you insane (which may work in your favor if they flee from you and you’re left to yourself for a few minutes!), but meditating on a song / set of words / phrase that turns our focus back onto Jesus, can transform your day. And you can be doing household stuff while it’s playing – which is fantastic.
- Practice the Presence. Since all of us are created to create – which equals work – it follows that we should have a sense of meaning and fulfillment in our activities. Practicing the Presence of God means we can be satisfied in God’s presence even when we’re getting stuff done. Our identity is found in being – simply existing we are loved and valued. But we were created to create (DO) out of this place of being. Know that while we’re hustling and getting stuff done, we can totally be engaging with God, because there’s something in us that connects to Him when we’re doing what He created us for!
- Open Bible. A wise mother of 12 (yes, 12) gave me this tip. She would lay her bible open on the counter and read the same section through the whole day.
- Change ‘filler’ habits. If I’m honest, my screen is often the backdrop to my daily activities. I can quickly check my emails while listening to one of the kids chatting to me, while feeding the baby. It can be like a ‘filler’ when I’m a bit bored of the normal routines. Even though it feels passive to be on my phone or screen, it takes mental engagement. It’s hard, like all habit changes, but making the backdrop to my time focused on hearing God, knowing Him better and getting ideas and vision for my life, instead of checking Facebook, has been a massive quality of life upgrade. And I’m still seriously working on this one.
- Practice & People. We don’t gain a healthy spiritual life exclusively by ‘quiet time’ (which often is perceived as a time to sit quietly, read the Bible, and ask God to bless our day). The way to apply what we hear, read and believe, is to live it out in front of and with our families, church family and communities. Committing ourselves to living life with people will force us to practice what we’ve meditated on in ‘quiet time’. And it will give us the exhilaration of growth and hearing from God, because we’re actually doing the stuff we read about in the Bible (being patient, being kind, being humble, caring about the needs of others).
My idea of ‘having no time’ changed when I stumbled across the history of a woman named Susanna Wesley. She had 19 children. She was sickly. She was plagued by her husbands debt. Twice her home burnt to the ground. Along with caring for her children, she ran their home and farm. Here is a woman who literally had no time, or quiet, to find for herself. Her plan of action? She committed daily time to prayer, throwing her apron over her head as a sign to her children that they were not to disturb her. It’s reported she did this her whole life. As adults, two of her children were powerful world changers; one of them known as ‘the best loved man in England’, leading a church movement where thousands of people met Jesus and had successful lives.
Using our time wisely, creatively and intentionally always pays off!
What tips do you have stay refreshed and encouraged in the middle of all the business of life?