It's January. If you've been on social media at all this month, you've no doubt been inundated with words of the year and resolutions. I love seeing people set goals surrounding the study of God's word, but as I see pictures posted of screen shotted bible reading plans and super quiet looking quiet times, my heart is burdened for two types of mothers with young children.
The first is the one who feels defeated and guilty because she's in a season where she's literally just trying to "survive" (and keep all of her children alive) and can't imagine trying to keep up with a bible reading plan. The other is the ambitious mama who gets fired up by the January buzz only to discover that the "plan" she selected isn't realistic for her schedule or her limited mental energy in this season. She'll drop off in March or April giving up on trying to read the Bible at all.
If you are a mom who is running on little sleep or who struggles with consistency, I'd like to share a method with you that I have found and heard others report is practical, doable, sustainable, and will hopefully bring the life and light you desperately need during this season when hormones and lack of sleep can cause your deceitful heart to be more convincing than usual. I call it The 3-5 Method.
WHAT IS THE 3-5 METHOD?
- Choose a book of the Bible. This way, you can learn the context, author, and audience of the book, and all of your verses will be read within that context. I recommend starting with one of the gospels or an epistle.
- Find a time in your day (and maybe some back ups) where you can expect to have 3-5 minutes of concentration. Try the first 3-5 minutes after you put your child down for a nap, or the first 3-5 minutes of independent playtime. Set a timer if you'd like to ensure your focus for this small chunk of time.
- Begin your time in the word with a prayer that God would bless your time with the ability to focus and that the Holy Spirit would give you wisdom, understanding, and patience.
- Use the first day to study the context, author, intended audience, and themes of the book you've chosen.
- After the initial day, devote this 3-5 minutes to the reading and study of 3-5 verses. If it needs to be 2 or 6, that's okay. This isn't meant to be rigid, just realistic. I like to reread yesterday's verses for context,.
- Look up words you don't know, or read a different translation if something seems confusing. Jot down questions you might have or things you want to think more about. Make Observations about what you've read, Interpret what it means within its context, then Apply what it says about God, humanity, or the subject it addresses to your own life.
- When your 3-5 minutes are up, you can get up without guilt, having nourished your soul and with something to chew and meditate on for the rest of the day. If another pocket of time emerges, feel free to do another 3-5 minutes and 3-5 more verses.
My experience with this method has revealed that focusing on smaller chunks of scripture at a time can actually be just as, if not more fruitful than studying a chapter or longer passage in one sitting. In fact, not only did my time employing 3-5 lead to more concentrated meditation and poignant application, but it also inadvertently gave way to a great deal of accidental memorization.
I am convinced that apart from being thoroughly convinced of her need for God's word, the other most important factor for a worn out mama to be able to consistently read the Bible is to surrender the expectation of what her time in the word should look like. Dear guilt ridden, defeated, disenchanted friend, you don't need an hour alone, a journal, a micron pen, and a steaming pour over in an anthropology mug to grow in your knowledge of scripture. He will meet you where you are as you seek him with what you have.