Seasons of Devotion
When I was a young mom with little ones I struggled with finding time to pray and for devotions. I was new to the Bible and new to praying (especially praying without ceasing and it not being repetitive chants–I grew up in a church where prayers were prewritten and repeated over and over). I had no idea what daily devotions should or could look like so I attempted to model my own after those I read about. My times of devotion went through many seasons.
- Randomly opening the bible to see what was there. When I was a new Christian this was how I dealt with the Bible–and during that time God used it immensely. My prayer was, “God show me what I need to see and help me understand it.”
- Reading devotional books and the Bible while nursing a child. This was the only time finding time for devotions was easy. I read straight through “The Promise” (a modern day English version of the Bible–I still like it better than “The Message”.) I also read Carol Brazo’s “No Ordinary Home” which appealed to me immensely though I now know that our home is never going to look like hers God used this book to really shape me as a Christian (and it occurs to me that my blog name probably was influenced by the name of the book.)
- Once my nursing child was too active for me to read I took to praying in my head during those times, usually while listening to Classical music, and usually that I would have patience, and occasionally for my children’s future. I also had a notebook that I quickly scrawled “Dear God” letters that upon looking back I realized looked exactly the same–I have 4 years of these journals, and they all read the same, every, single day, with very litle change. At this time with each I was still trying to imitate what others said was a good devotion time and learning that a lot of what works for others doesn’t work for me.
- For one season I had a child who always nursed at 5:15 am, which was exactly the time Elisabeth Elliot’s radio show was on and so I would nurse and listen and then pray when the show was over. It is still one of my favorite memories and was a time of real growth.
- When my three were in diapers but no longer nursing I would wake slightly before them and quickly write in my prayer journal (it was rather repetitive and not really deep–I could usually hear my kids calling me before I finished). This was one of the things that didnt’ really work for me.
- I learned to keep a Bible in every room–this made a HUGE difference. This has allowed me to read straight through the Bible multiple times because as long as I know where I left off I can continue anytime I have a moment of peace.
- I have also read through online using Biblegateway.com both reading and listening. I find that listening to the bible is great if you have a computer in the kitchen and can play it during breakfast or some other time when the kids are gathered but quietly occupied. This also was the beginning of me exposing the m to God’s word daily.
- It wasn’t long after my oldest stopped nursing that I finally got the pray unceasingly about everything. We started praying for everything everywhere–a good parking spot was a favorite, lost keys, lost toys, whether to buy something, etc. Having a child who is used to asking for things really taught me how to pray. We seldom kneel to pray, usually we just take each other’s hand and pray if we do pray out loud. And God is obviously present at these times, and more often than not His answer is yes and the perfect spot, timing, the thing we are looking for, regardless of the prayer it is answered. This has done amazing things for our oldest’s faith.
- We have also gone through a time of daily devotions as a family, it was nice (though tricky with a little one who couldn’t sit still), it taught the kids to love the Bible, but it was time consuming since we would read, pray, talk (and when I say talk I mean I would tell the kids all about some aspect that I noticed and the poor things were expected to sit and listen to what I said and then they would want to tell about what they got out of it and all in all it took at least 2 hours each day.) I must say, however, that this gave the kids a good firm foundation in the Bible and we continue having these sorts of conversaations throughout the day with much less “me preaching” and a lot more back and forth. It is amazing to me how a child can be immature mentally and yet very mature spiritually.
- Another season I went through was taking an hour or so each morning for my devotions. My kids were old enough to get their own breakfasts and happily did so. I would lock myself in my room with my prayer journal and Bible and have a time of conversation with God. It was beautiful and wonderful and draining and time consuming. I wouldn’t mind having that sort of time with God again but am in a different season and so am doing things differently.
- This brings us to now. now it is much more natural, as natural as breathing, as talking to my kids and husband, as natural as everything else in our lives. Now I lie abed in the morning, spending time alone with God, praying about whatever pops into my head that needs prayed over, asking Him to show me what I need to pray about. I pray throughout the day as needed, with little or no ceremony. In the evenings we read about 2-4 chapters of the bible aloud (this year we are doing it chronologically using the chronology listed on biblegateway.com). Sometimes I read it all, sometimes the kids read, hubby usually reads it on his own alone.
- We also still do church at home though now we have it on Saturdays (not for any doctrinal reason but because hubby and I felt this is what God was calling us to do.) This is roughly half an hour long, includes reading whatever my husband feels led to read that morning, discussing what has been read, prayer, and some singing. It is amazing how much all of us get out of this time. And we look forward to church time now instead of being miserable at the thought. Also, the kids now attend my mother-in-laws church for Sunday school on Sundays at their own choice. My mother-in-law is their Sunday school teacher and they have friends that are attending as well. They get frustrated because they know the stories taught very well, but enjoy spending the time with their grandmother and their friends. They are also frustrated with all the extra “stuff” that happens during church that draws it out and not being able to talk and ask questions (one of the blessings of having church at home is being able to discuss what is read and sharing what God is doing and showing through it instead of being told what it says.)
- I can’t say what the next season will be but it is always interesting to say the least.
I should mention here that this started out as a comment on Mandy’s site in response to her struggle with finding time for prayer and got so long I brought it over here instead.