Monday, April 21, 2008

I'm in the 19%

I'm trying to decide what to make of the results of my latest poll (over there to the left). Only a few of you responded and the majority of you who did respond said that you read the Bible and pray on most days. One person said they do so on occasion. And one person said that they never do.

There were only 11 replies total, so many of you chose not to respond at all.

I've decided to be painfully honest and tell you that this is an area I have always struggled in. Intentional "quiet times" have been sporadic at best for the majority of my life. Hopefully the 81% of you who have your act together and do so on most days won't disown me for that revelation.

As an effort to remedy that, in January I decided to read the Bible cover to cover chronologically (in a year) with a group of ladies over at Bev's blog. I agreed to do so hesitantly because I wasn't sure I would really be faithful to honor that commitment. I did well for awhile, but as we got into the readings in Leviticus and Numbers my resolve began to waver. I struggled to continue with the readings and I got further and further behind. At one point a few weeks ago I was ready to throw in the towel, either that or apply for an extension.

Was there a 2 or 3 year plan?

I left a comment at Bev's blog (in all seriousness) telling her that I was a Cover to Cover LOSER and might it be possible that I was so far behind I was actually first? Or something to that effect. And do you know what? She did not curse me or chastise me or even scold me. She was SO gracious and loving and kind and she told me to just jump in where they were reading at the time...instead of trying to catch up (duh...my word not hers), and that if nothing else I should read just two verses of the reading each day. I agreed to do that and I asked her to pray for me. And miracle of miracles, I have completed all the readings since then! Although if I'm being completely honest I did skim over the ones in 1 Chronicles...(sorry God, but UGH).

So. I say all this not to boast, but to praise God for this victory in my life!

"If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness."
2 Corinithians 11:30

And also to encourage. If you are still with me here at the end of this post...where are you at with this? I'd really be interested to know. Please share...leave a comment anonymously if needed or respond via email.

If you struggle in this area and would like prayer. I will pray for you. I mean that.

I say all this with the assumption that the majority of you reading this blog are Christians. However, if for some reason you are reading this post and you have no idea what I am talking about when I say quiet time or victory or Leviticus or Numbers. If for some reason you stumbled upon this post and you don't know Jesus, it would my honor to share Him with you. Just leave a comment or send an email and we'll talk.

25 comments:

Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

Oh, Alana! I've struggled in this area much of the time I've been a Christian. It's only been in the past 8 months that things have been completely different for me. Getting up at 5:30 (most days) has been HUGE in my life, but I realize that may not be feasible for everyone.

To be honest, some days I sleep in and miss it all together. I try not to beat myself up about it, though.

AND PRAISE THE LORD for your testimony!

Janelle said...

Love your honesty. I think this is everyone's struggle. It certainly is mine. I haven't had a quality quiet time in.....who knows.

I know that I should, but I continue to rebel or procrastinate.

I would love your prayers concerning this area in my life.

Love you, friend.

PS...your polls STILL don't work for me. I keep getting an error message every time I try to vote on something. Am I the only one?

Kristen said...

I appreciate your honesty! I think some of the guilt I feel when I am not doing well with reading the bible or having quiet time is that I feel like everyone else is doing it! It is nice to know I am not alone, it is a struggle to carve out that quiet time when other things are calling my name - like laundry, dishes, errands, and kids - but it is important and I feel better when I have been taking that time.

I did try to read through the bible a few years ago, my neighbor gave me a bible designed for reading in a year- a bit of old testament, a bit of new testament, part of a psalm and part of a proverb each day. I did well and then once I fell behind I stopped because I felt defeated in trying to catch up. After reading your post today, I am going to pick up that bible and start over and just do what I can!

Thank you for this post!

dawn said...

Oh sweet friend, I am right there with you. I do not spend enough time with the Lord either. My prayer time consists of an ongoing conversation with the Lord everyday. Do not be so hard on yourself. You are loved.

A friend once told me that God knows my heart even when I cannot spend time with him.

This gives me great comfort.

And, No I didn't take part in your poll. I never even saw it this time. Sorry!

Xandra said...

Oh my friend! We struggle together with this one. I know that I should be faithful, and I can tell a difference in my walk when I am, but it is so hard for me as well!

I always covet prayer from my friends on this issue, and would appreciate yours as well. I will be praying for you too....

Thank you for your transparency...we try so hard to live up to a standard that we think our christian friends have achieved, and it is just a stumbling block put there by satan to feed our pride and our sinful nature. But through prayer and thoughtful obedience, we will overcome!

Love ya!

Xandra

Darlene R. said...

I honestly think that most people who are not in the ministry full-time struggle with this. I try very hard to do mine every day, but I fail~~ a lot!

Becoming Me said...

Alana:

As a mommy of a 1 yr old and four year old I too struggle with this. However, I do have an almost constant prayer relationship with the Lord and that goes a long way toward staying close to Him.

Sarah Markley said...

what a sweet and heartfelt post, alana.

i struggle (i read and intentionally pray about 3 times a week) but right now i do what i can. i would love to do it more or for longer, but its so hard.

thank you for sharing this.

Teri said...

I struggle too. Just making it a priority. Honestly, somedays I would rather sleep. (Ouch, that was bruttaly honest.) Although, I did get a purse sized Bible, and I can pull it out and read while I am waiting in the waiting room, or at the soccer/baseball field. that is of course if I don't get tempted by the ipod.

I always GET something out of reading the Bible...I am just not very good at staying with it.

Gotta GROW with it said...

i am so encouraged by your honesty! you know what, i know that God knows my thoughts and heart. he knows when i'm puttin' in my time to mark that off my check list. i just feel like it is so easy to get wrapped up in the complacency of it all. so thanks for in a way reminding me that the christian life is not our futile efforts to please, but to want to know God because we love Him!

mark&beth said...

Thank you for your humility. I'm so tired of pretending!! I would relish your prayer...and accountability. I, too, have struggled with this my whole life. And, although I've often been comforted by the verse "He gently leads those with young..." (don't know the reference off hand), I'm realizing that I can use that as an excuse. And what better time to be on my knees, immersed in His word, than when I'm leading my young? Over the last several years, during times of personal struggle/sadness, I've continually been brought to the point of realization that I would have more answers, more growth, more peace, if I were studying my Bible-being filled with truth- more.
So, currently I'm really trying to get myself up an hour earlier, so that I can fit a quiet time in some time during the day and still get a lot accomplished. It's definately a work in progress, but the spiritual maturity that I want won't come with excuses. :)
I will be praying for you, too! It truly is a hard discipline to master. And, Satan sure knows how to distract. Hang in there. :) God knows.

Teresa said...

Alana, we're in it the same here! I struggle too with constant and meaningful quiet time. I do have a bit all day long kind of conversation with God, most days... until the hectic ones come (oh, wait, that's what happens most days!) I am not a get up early girl. And, for many years beat myself up over the fact that I would resolve to "get up early to spend time with God" and would fail. FInally, I realized that Morning or Night - God doesn't care. So, most nights I stay up a little later and do Bible Study in bed before I turn off the lights. I find it much more easy and I end up doing it more consistently. But, I still need help in this area, and your prayers would be very welcomed! Love you, my kindred spirit!

His Girl said...

Oh, Alana... in my self-absorbed busy time I didn't even SEE your poll! SO so so sorry.

I read my Bible and pray just about every morning. It wasn't always this way. I tried several things before I finally found something that made me look forward to waking up in the morning and making it a habit. For me, what finally worked is praying by writing my prayers in a nice journal, and reading the Bible through a commentary that I like. I am going straight through the Bible... in Psalms now- and it's been two years!!!
I have found that i like this pace and that i am actually learning and loving it this way. I tried the one year Bible but it stressed me out.... and i caught myself reading it just so i could check it off my list, which really wasn't very fruitful at all.
Long ol' comment, I know. Here's the point! It started little- but I found if I did it FIRST THING in the day... kept everything i needed right by my bed, it helped eliminate excuses. After months of obedience, it became *and still is* my opening thought every single morning. sometimes I may choose to do something else, but I am always sorry, and rarely get back to it in a way that is as intimate and sweet as it is when I just do it right away.
anyway.... the point of the point that I keep wanting to get to is that it worked for me. And the same God who did that is going to keep giving you the desires of your heart to keep up with the routine that He's set up for you... because you are asking for help with something that will bless Him and you so much!

xoxo

Lynn said...

Alana, thanks for this honest post. This is something I have struggled with on and off through my life. I voted in the "most days" category on your poll. I have been blessed by some really good weekly women's Bible studies on base that have helped me to be accountable. They usually have at least 5 days of homework (we are currently doing a Beth Moore study on the Psalms).

God has convicted my heart lately that I ALWAYS seem to find time to read blogs, leave comments, and check my email DAILY if not several times per day, so I have NO excuses for not having time for God. I say He is the biggest priority in my life...I need to have my actions match my words. I would love prayer in this area.

Bev Brandon said...

You're not only honest, you are authentic! You're not only cherished, you are adored. You're not only hungry, you are desperate. You're not only humble, you are real. And I love all these things about you. And so does God! I'm crazy about all 100% of you! And I love what God is doing for you through His Word...it's all about holiness not about checking off today's reading for insight. Our goal is God HIMSELF and that intimacy is what you are after. It's not about direction, not about guidance, not even about understanding. It's all about being intimately acquainted with HIM and the more that we are, the more we can't live without coming to HIM throughout our day. No prayer speeches without lingering to listen to HIM. Just desperate and desiring hearts for our Friend, our Lover who is closer than our brothers. Sure do love what you are about! I'm thinking right now of the psalm that says His Word is like our oxygen, like a hammer that breaks the rocks to pieces, and like the snow that melts our hearts. But we don't worship the Word, we worship the LIVING WORD. You so honor HIM! Thank you so much for encouraging me offering prayer and passion and His Peace! No striving here. Deut 32:46-47 His Words are not idle words, they are our very life! Thank you sweet thing!

Fran said...

I think our sweet FAther knows our hearts and He also knows our days....especially with children at home....Our time will come when they are all in school and that discipline can become a reality.
Thats what it took for me. I quit beating myself up about it. I prayed. I did my Bible study. It just didn't happen at the break of dawn every day and I was ok with that.

Time has changed and "it" looks different now. But, I believe His love for me was the exact same.
He knows our hearts.

I love ya!

life with the wisners said...

sweet alana. it's been a while, huh friend?

clearly, we are all in this together. i struggle with it too. it's so difficult to carve out the time. easy for me to make excuses. difficult to figure out the best time for us to "hang out."

but He knows i can talk His ear off. any. time. of. the. day.

love you!

Abigail Munday said...

I haven't read every single comment, so maybe somebody already said this, but there is NO condemnation for those who are in Jesus. I'm in Jesus, you're in Jesus, and there's absolutely no guilt coming from His direction. If there's guilt, I believe that's from the other direction. Conviction, if there's a specific sin He wants us to ask Him to help get rid of, yes, then conviction's from Him. But a general feeling of guilt is not from our Papa. Alana, you're good enough. I'm good enough. We don't have to please Him because He already thinks we're the apple of His eye! I don't read the Bible every day and I don't think it's a sin at all. There's nothing wrong with that. If He leads me to do it, I usually do it, and if He leads me and I don't do it, then I know I'm doing something wrong. Maybe other readers will disagree with me, but I don't believe you HAVE to do anything to make God happy. He's already made me, loves me, and thinks I'm pretty special. I notice, in some of the comments that I read, that a lot of people chat with God all day long anyway. Hey, that's relationship, and that's totally what He's after! It's all about hanging out with Him, being with Him, but it's NOT about DOING for Him. Maybe some people will think I'm heretical for my next statement, but I truly believe if you never read your Bible again until the day you go Home, it would not be held against you. God is not in the business of hammering us over the head. He just wants to love us and be loved.

Happyhome said...

I can't tell you how many times I have wanted to do the cover to cover deal and gotten bogged down in the very same place. Sigh...Your honesty will be an encouragement to others.

I do have quiet time most days...except on the days when my children make it up before me and then there's anything BUT quiet. Then it's more popcorn prayers, "Help me God!" He understands and gives me the grace I need for that day.

The thing I struggled with was coming to a point where I understood that my Bible reading was not merely something on my to-do list, but a way to truly connect with my heavenly Father. Realizing this brought me to a point where it is something I don't want to miss.

Thanks again for your honesty.

Angela

Heather said...

I struggle as well. Some days are easier than others and some just are flat out hard! I tried to read the Bible through this year and fell short big time! I did find a devotional that I love. It's called the busy moms devotional and it takes about 10 to 15 minutes to do. There are 52 devotions so you can do one a week or one a day over 52 days. It has been very helpful for me b/c it doesn't place you on a guilt trip if you fall short! I need to do better as well!

BethAnne said...

I notice that when I am leading Bible study that my quiet times are longer, moe often, and more intentional. When I am not leading, I noticed that they are shorter and less intentional. I recommend that everyone buy a Bible study book(like a Beth Moore type study or one by another author) and do every day until it is finished and then buy another one and do it every day until it is finished and so on ........that way you have something 'set' instead of just opening your Bible and wandering around looking for something to study.

Kara said...

This is where blogs get not only fun but super encouraging. There is never shame (or there shouldn't be) in being honest about where you are at in life. No one I know is a perfect bible scholar and reads 3.4 books of the Bible every single day. I go through major ebbs and flows in this area. At times when I am most desparate - needing to sell a house, waiting for a phone call about a baby, praying for a hard situation to pass - well, I am just as disciplined as they come, but if it is just normal and routine and average - I'm a little weak and I get forgetful about my time with Jesus. I hate that about myself and always wish for myself to change. I love the times when I see God moving and speaking to me and I wonder why I don't let him do it every day. This is why God's Grace is so amazing - He Loves me anyway. He blesses me abundantly anyway. I know He will do this with you too!

Shelley said...

Oh my friend! First I must confess that I tend to forget to check your polls. When I remember, I participate, but this time I forgot. I'm sorry. I would have been in the 19% too. I would even say that occasionally might be a strong word for me. Maybe seldom? I have struggled with this since Ellie was a baby. I have felt guilt, and frustration. A while back, I heard someone speak that God wants our time, whatever and whenever we can give it to Him. For some that may be a quiet time daily, for others it may be snippets of time throughout the day...while driving, showering, laundry...This person said that the important thing was to just keep Him at the foremost thoughts of your mind. That a quiet time or a daily devotional was wonderful, but that if that didn't work in your stage of life, God doesn't condem us for that. On the contrary, He understands! He knows our lives, he knows our minds and our hearts! He knows how we feel, what we need, and what we can do. He understands! After hearing this person speak, I felt so much better. I felt freed from my guilt, and able to worship Him even more, throughout my days. You are such a REAL testimony to so many my friend. Thanks for sharing and letting your light shine!

Jamie said...

Alana, I struggle with this too. I do try to have quiet time most days but it is usually after tearing myself away again and again from some mundane mommy chore that is staring me in the face. I think this is satan trying to keep my focus off of God's Word. I don't want to let him win but sometimes I do. I know God doesn't want us to feel guilty about messing up, he just wants us to try our best to do better next time. Guilt is from satan too. I keeps us from trying at all because we think if we can't do it just a certain way we shouldn't even try. Thanks for your honesty. I look up to you and appreciate you being real.

Mary@notbefore7 said...

Alana, I was too late to do your poll, but have appreciated your honesty in this area. I would have been an occasional reader of the bible my whole life if you asked a year ago. Things have really changed as I committed over and over again to sticking with a daily time in His word.

It began when I started reading the bible cover to cover. (It took until Psalms...which was months into my reading) I am now in Luke (almost 2 years later). I have never been one to pressure myself on time, but on spending time each day. Whether it is one verse or one chapter.

It is well worth the recommittment each day. But it has taken regular recommittment for me. (hence the 2 years so far...getting through the bible) Yes, there are days that go by sometimes, but I just start again.

It helps me to have a standard time each day. When I lose that time, things fall apart.

Keep at it. Don't let the Enemy get you down or make you feel guilty. God wants you exactly where you are!