Is your quiet time with God sustainable for your season? In this episode Phylicia talks about creating a time with God that is flexible for your lifestyle and life stage.
Welcome to Verity. I’m your host, Phylicia Masonheimer, an author, speaker, and bible teacher. This podcast will help you embrace the history and depth of the Christian faith. Ask questions, seek answers, and devote yourself to becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. You don’t have to settle for watered down Christian teaching. And if you’re ready to go deeper, God is just as ready to take you there. This is Verity, where Every Woman is a Theologian.
Hi, friends, and welcome back to Verity podcast. I’m so excited for today’s episode. It’s very practical, hands on, and I was thinking about it recently. And I thought, you know, I haven’t talked about our Bible study routines in a while. We’re doing a lot of theology episodes, and I haven’t revisited some of those spiritual practices that bring theology home, that make theology our daily reality and participation with God through Christ.
And so in today’s episode, we’re going to talk all about how to build a sustainable bible study routine for your life stage. And I can talk about this because I’ve had to change my bible study or quiet time routine many, many times over the years. I became a believer when I was 15 years old, And now I’m 32. I’m married and have 3 children, and I’m running a business and ministry from my home. And that should tell you right there that my quiet time when I was teen and my quiet time now look very, very different.
And sometimes what happens is we think our Quiet time with God has to look a very particular way. And then if it doesn’t look that way, we just give up on it entirely, and we stop seeking God’s face. We stop prioritizing the word of God, we stop making our spiritual life the top most important thing to pursue every day because it doesn’t look the way that we expected. And so I want to give you some tips and advice for creating a bible study routine that actually facilitates that personal relationship with God and doesn’t undermine the progress you’re making in your walk with him.
So before we begin, I want to go back to one of our very, very, very first episodes on Verity podcast. And you can go back to episode number 1. I believe it’s called Why the Instagram Bible Won’t Free You, and I talk about the history of the quiet time in that episode.
We discuss how the terminology developed and how it kind of came about in the 1950’s and 60’s as people were pursuing a more introspective faith and there’s nothing wrong with introspection, but what ended up happening kind of as an offshoot is we ended up with a very, Sometimes me centered faith or a me centered pursuit of God. So if I don’t get something out of my Bible every time I sit down, you know, something I can apply right away today, then I’m not going to bother seeking God in the word. And we became very transactional in our time with the Bible, our time praying to God. If we don’t feel an emotion change or we don’t get a little nugget out of the Bible that we can go out and the willpower into our life, we think the quiet time was worthless. And that is not what the Bible presents as relationship with God.
Relationship with God is an ongoing communion with him, an ongoing conversation with him. It means taking the time to expose yourself to the word of God even if you don’t see the application right away and being okay with that, asking him questions and then listening for his response, praying throughout the day and taking your worries and your cares to him and then noticing when he answers and being grateful for when he does. That is what the daily life in Christ looks like.
Now I’d always encourage some kind of quiet time or bible study time because the word of God is living inactive, and it’s also the foundation by which we build everything else in our life. It’s the measure by which we know what is true and right. And so to know that something is God’s voice, we have to have the word of God to measure those voices against. That said, it’s still the ongoing relationship and conversation.
So when you are looking at your life and your lifestyle, you have to find a way to prioritize the word of God, prioritize prayer and meeting with Christ in a way that works for your life because god isn’t expecting you to jam a quiet time into your life if the way you’re going about it doesn’t fit your life stage. So to explain this to you, I thought I’d share with you what my quiet time has looked like over the years and how it has changed. Because I’m hoping that by opening that up to you, you will be able to then personalize it and develop your own quiet time with God that is unique to you and your own life stage.
So when I first became a believer in my teenage years and I was working outside the home a little bit and in school. I had a lot of time. I had my own room. I had this giant walk in closet, And so I would go in the walk in closet, and I had set up a little basket of bible study materials, some notebooks, some note cards, and pictures of people I was praying for. It was kind of like a war room before the movie War Room made those popular. I had verses I prayed and hymns I liked, and I even had a little boom box in there with Avalon CDs to listen to.
So I had it all set up. My siblings kind of joked that it looked like a shrine, but you know what? It worked for me. And I would get up at 6 AM. I would go in there. I would play worship music, write out my prayers, study a passage, and take some notes, and then pray over my prayer requests. And in my early zealous Christianity, that is exactly what I needed. I needed a way to approach God That was deep and long and would continue my walk with him, and that was fine for that season.
But when I was in my twenties, I moved away from home. I got my 1st apartment. I was working full time, and I was in school. And then, eventually, I met my husband. We got engaged. I was planning a wedding, working full time, and in school. And If you know anything about all of those different responsibilities, they all take a lot of time. And so I was stressed. I was tired, but I also knew that there was absolutely no way I could go through my day without being in communion with God, without praying, without seeking him in the word. And because I was tired from staying up late doing my homework and then going to work in the day, getting up super early to do my devotions just didn’t always happen. I didn’t always have the time or the energy.
And even after we got married, I still was up late doing homework, and I did not, You know, always feel like getting up at 6 AM to study the Bible, so I had to find a new way to go about this. And so when I was first married working full time in school. I would actually bring my Bible, my notebook with me, and I would do it on my lunch break, either at my desk or somewhere else in my office, in the lunchroom. Sometimes I would listen to the audio bible on my way into work and then do my actual study time on my lunch break. But at that stage of our marriage in life, there were a lot of hard things we were dealing with, and those lunch break times in the word were so impactful to me, and they were so powerful in helping me navigate tough situations at that time, even though my bible study method, my quiet time, had changed. I wasn’t sitting in an armchair in my pajamas with a candle and coffee. I was in heels and then business casual in my office studying it at a high top, eating my lunch at the same time.
And so we can’t have this romantic view of the quiet time keep us from actually coming to God. Because at no point in church history, except in the last 60 years or so have people had that opportunity. They were seeking god in the bible at the end of the day by candlelight after the farm work was done or in a prison, or, you know, wherever they could, however they could because it was just that vital and important to them.
So then my season changed again. We moved, and I was pregnant, and then I had the baby when we moved to Pennsylvania, And my husband was working crazy hours. I mean, 60, 70 hours a week with an hour commute both ways. So he left at about 5:30, 6 AM in the morning to come to commute towards Philadelphia, and then I was alone with the baby for all day until he got home anywhere between 6 and midnight. So during those times, here I am, a new mom with a baby, and I had to figure out a new system because now I wasn’t working. I was home all day, and the baby had to be nursed, had to be fed, and I had to figure out, you know, when am I going to prioritize my time in the word.
And so in this stage, I would often read the Bible while I was nursing. I would leave my Bible and my notebook and anything else I needed in a basket on the dining room table, And I would come downstairs with the baby for her morning feeding, and I would feed her while I sat there at the table. And I would take notes with my right hand while I nursed on the left, and then I would read when I nurse on the right. And after that, when she’s content, I’d put her in a little bouncy seat or a chair, and I would continue my study until it was done. I would write notes or prayers while she fed or, you know, later in the day when she was playing or sitting in her bouncy seat or napping. If I missed an early morning study time, I would just bump it forward and do my bible study during her nap.
And that was how I did things for that 1st year of her life. I was just working around nap times, doing it in the early morning, and here’s the reality. Newborn babies, small babies, they sleep a lot. Most babies sleep a lot. Even if they’re sleeping on you, you have the option and the ability to make studying the Bible a priority. Sometimes that’s just reading the Bible or listening to it, but you can get back to taking notes, really involving yourself in the text. Jen Wilkin also suggested if you’re in a really busy season, to only do really deep study 2 or 3 days a week. And then the rest of the days of the week, you can just listen on audio. And I love that advice because it allows you to continue growing and deepening your faith while also having some flexibility.
And one thing I would also mention is during this season with my newborn, I watched a lot of TV. It was my 1st time not having a job outside the home in 10 years, And so it was kind of a novelty for me to be at home, and I was watching a lot of TV, and I was reading a lot of books from the library. And those things spent hours hours of time. I had the time on my hands. I just had to make it a priority to keep Christ in my relationship with him first above the TV, above the other books.
After a 3 year hiatus, Verity Conference is back, and it’s coming to Petoskey, Michigan November 4th and 5th. I am so thrilled to bring back Verity Conference after our short break of a few years for COVID. And this time, we are much bigger with two amazing speakers joining me to talk about apologetics and evangelism. How do we share our faith effectively in today’s culture in a way that is both gracious and truthful. You’ll hear from me, Jeremy Jenkins of All Things All People, and Preselis Dominguez, who is going to share with us how to love other people while also speaking the truth. Jeremy specializes in world religions and cults, and he will be talking about evangelism in that context. I am so excited for this event. I hope you can join us. You can grab the remaining early bird it’s on my website, phyliciamasonheimer.com if you click the conference tab.
So now fast forward to my current life stage. There’s been other changes in between there. We moved again, moved back to Michigan. We’ve had 2 more kids. My kids are almost 7, 5, and 2, And we homeschool them, and then my husband and I both run Every Woman A Theologian, our ministry, out of our farm here in Northern Michigan. And because of that, there’s a lot going on in our house all the time. We are with our kids almost all the time. And even though Josh and I take turns watching them, take turns homeschooling, in my ideal world, I get to get up at 6 AM and have that quiet time with the Lord with my coffee. That’s and and in some seasons, I have returned to that. I have gone back to that. When babies get a little older, they’re sleeping through the night. I’m back to that again.
However, I do have a child that likes to get up at 6 AM and wants to sneak down. When I’m sitting there, she hears me get out of bed, or I sleep in because I was up late working on something, and now I can’t do my ideal time with him. And so I’m sitting there at 10 AM with my 3 kids around me, and I’m doing my devotions at the table while they’re there. And I am totally okay with that because I’ve taught myself to pay attention to what’s in front of me, to prioritize the word of God in front of me.
I resonate with a lot of the symptoms of ADHD. And yet, I’ve been able to train my mind to focus on the word of God, to focus on my time with him, even if it’s short or even if it’s a little different than the usual, with my kids right with me, being okay with a quiet time just not being quiet, teaching my kids not to interrupt, saying, you know what? I need you to wait. Mommy’s finishing this right now, because they get to see me approach God.
Growing up, I saw my mom in the morning when I would come upstairs. She’d be in her armchair studying the bible and probably was a little irritated to see the 11 year old coming upstairs at 6:30. Like, I sometimes feel that twinge annoyance too, and yet I saw my mom doing that, and that was a huge part of why I knew that my parents’ faith was real. It wasn’t just what they said. It was what they did. They were going to the word of God in front of me, not just telling me that I should. And so I do prioritize studying the word of God in front of my kids when it doesn’t happen on my time frame or I can’t get up super early. I teach them, hey. This is what I’m reading right now, or you know what? I need you to wait. I’m finishing this up. Or please don’t interrupt. I’m finishing this, and then I can help you with that.
It is good for kids to see you approach the word of God and to prioritize that in front of them, even if they have to wait a little bit for you to do that. It sets an example for them. And now my 7 year old has a little Bible of her own and a little desk of her own, And she gets up in the morning, and she will read a bible story and come down and proudly tell me that she did her bible study too, or she’ll bring it down and sit next to me and say, I wanna do it with you. And I truly believe that that’s no credit to me. That’s just her seeing that visual example.
And so whatever season you are in, maybe you’re working full time outside the home like I used to and you have kids. So maybe you’re not able to do your quiet time early in the morning either, so you do it at lunch at work or you’re listening in the car and you’re praying out loud. I’ll also pray out loud in front of my kids in the car and give them that example of what it looks like to approach God. There are so many ways you can go about this, And I just encourage you to think about what is sustainable for me in this season as I’m creating a bible study routine. As I’m creating a prayer routine, what can I actually sustain in this season? And then build on that as time goes by. Be flexible. If something’s becoming difficult, ask yourself, what could I change to make this easier, to make this better, to truly seek God’s face? Because, remember, we aren’t victims of our circumstances. Circumstances can be hard, but we have to sit down and say at that moment, what can I do? What is under my control, and what do I need to release back to God?
So as we wrap up this episode, I wanted to read you a few verses that I find so encouraging about seeking God’s face. Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith, it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” God rewards those who seek him. He meets those who seek him. And if you’re wondering, you know, where is God? Why don’t I hear from him? Be honest with yourself. Are you actively seeking his face? Are you in the word? Are you praying for an answer? If you’re doing those things and you’re still not hearing from him, Be patient and persevering because God’s silence is his commendation of you continuing to seek him in faith. He’s strengthening you. But if you aren’t in the word and you aren’t praying and you still are wondering why you aren’t seeking from God, God has given you the word of God right here so that you can know him.
That is where you begin. 1 chronicles 16:11 says, “Seek the lord and his strength. Seek his presence continually.” And Proverbs 8:17 says, “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.” I think that’s a great place to end. I hope this encourages you. And I would just say practically speaking, get out a piece of paper and write down all the problems that you see with your current quiet time routine or Bible study routine. What bothers you about it? What isn’t working? And then write down what you like and what is working. And then, well, looking at those 2 things, ask yourself, which of these things is under my control and which of these things is not. Take the things that are under your control and change them, and then release the rest to the lord. Because remember, those who seek him will always find him.
Thank you for joining us for today’s episode of Verity. You can connect with fellow listeners by following me on Instagram at Phylicia Masonheimer or on our Facebook page by the same name. Also visit phyliciamasonheimer.com for links to each episode and the show notes.