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How Much Time Is Enough?

June 29, 2010

Many people ask how much time they should spend reading the Bible. It’s a good question, but there is no one-size-fits-all kind of answer. When it comes to the time we spend in God’s Word, there is no such thing as “too much” – there is no such thing as “too little.”

I remember not long after I became a Christian a sweet and godly man told me that there is a big difference between reading God’s Word and studying it and that I needed to strive to do both each day. That word of wisdom has stuck with me through the years. For better or for worse, I still strive to do both every day. I say, “for better or for worse” because, at times, I’ve weighed myself down with self-imposed expectations that were impossible to keep in light of what I was going through.

You see, it doesn’t take long on planet earth to learn that life happens and circumstances don’t always add up to an hour in the morning reading God’s Word and an hour in the evening studying it. Life happens. People get sick. Tragedy strikes. Schedules are altered. Children are up all night throwing up. Elderly parents need to be cared for. Newborn babies cry through the night. A house full of children make it impossible to find a quiet place.

We’re all in different seasons in our lives and we face an ongoing jockeying of our schedules trying to prevent our worlds from colliding with our time in the Word.

On the flip side of the circumstantial coin, it’s important that we don’t let our dailies dictate our agendas. If we’re not careful, our lives can become an excuse for not spending time in the Word of the Living God.

So, how much time is enough? As much as you can possibly invest! As much as you desire to grow given the season you are in right now. As much as you need comfort, courage, wisdom and strength in the circumstances you face today. As much as you need to build your faith and guard your heart during the storms that are sure to come. As much as you desire to leave a legacy of diligence and godliness for your children. As much as you can, dear one…as much as you can.

But if you’re anything like me, your attempts will be hit and miss without the benefit of a well-crafted plan. Fortunately, there are plenty out there for you to choose from. Biblegateway.com has several reading plans available. Another great source is Heartlight.org.

If you’re looking for ways to make time in the Word a priority in your life, here are some ideas that I hope will inspire you.

Choose a plan. I recommend you try beginning with a “read the Bible in a year” plan now. That normally takes about 20-30 minutes a day.

Commit to a timeframe that works for you. Evaluate your schedule and write down your time in the Word in your appointment book. That’s right…make an appointment with God and guard it at all possible costs. If you don’t think you have enough time, think about how much time you spend watching TV. Consider how many hours you spend on the computer…on Facebook, on Twitter, blogging and email. Think of the time you spend randomly talking on the phone to your friends. None of those things are bad, but they’re no comparison with our time in the Word.

Be accountable. Find a friend who loves to spend time in the Word and give her permission to keep you accountable. It may not be easy, but you have to be willing to allow others into your world and ask you questions that may aggravate you every once in a while.

Teach Someone. You will never learn more than when you teach someone else. Teaching puts you under the gun and literally makes you spend time in the Word. I’ve often said that speaking is selfish for me because it motivates me to diligently study God’s Word so that I’m able to present it clearly to others.

Be forgiving. Give yourself room to fail and room for life to happen without beating yourself up or giving up. If you miss a day, a week, a month…just look at your plan and begin reading where you are. Don’t try to catch up…just start where you are and get back on track.

2 Timothy 2:15 tells us, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Psalm 119:92-93  reminds us of the life-giving qualities God’s Word, “Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction. I will never forget Your precepts, For by them You have given me life.”

If you struggle with trying to figure out how much time is enough, just remember, when it comes to the time we spend in God’s Word, there is no such thing as “too much” – there is no such thing as “too little.” No time in the Word is wasted. So…dig in!


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23 Comments leave one →
  1. June 29, 2010 9:03 am

    Thank you Stephanie! So beautifully said. “No time in the Word is ever wasted!”

    • June 29, 2010 9:39 am

      I’m so thankful God has given us His Word and has revealed Himself, His plan and His purpose to us through it!

  2. June 29, 2010 10:11 am

    What wise counsel you were given long ago, Stephanie, and it’s so true that I’m never, ever sorry for time I spend in the Word of God. I can relate to speaking being “selfish” 😉 The more I learn, the more I learn I need to learn!

    • June 29, 2010 10:21 am

      Julie – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about that sweet man’s words of wisdom. I’m so thankful I was challenged to be diligent in my early days as a Christian. His Word makes a world of difference!

  3. Kristi Stephens permalink*
    June 29, 2010 2:24 pm

    LOVE this post, Stephanie. So appreciate how full of grace it is and yet how true – as much as we can!!

    • June 29, 2010 2:55 pm

      I love the way you put that. Full of grace. Something we’re always in need of. Glad we’re diggin’ together! 🙂

  4. Robin permalink
    June 29, 2010 2:48 pm

    This is wonderful. I fall so short in carving out a specific time each day. I feel I should have no excuses in this season of life, yet before I know it, the day has slipped away with work, after work ‘work’, ministry (minister’s wife here), and such.

    I love this series. It is so uplifting.

    • June 29, 2010 3:11 pm

      Robin ~ thanks for your willingness to be so transparent and share a struggle that most of us also deal with to some degree or another. If you’re in ministry, I know your life is full and so is your plate. I’ll be praying for you in the coming weeks that God will help define your time so you can spend more with Him.

      Remember, He’s a gracious God who sees your heart and knows what season you are in. So rest in Him, spend as much time in His Word as you can and enjoy the grand adventure of serving God.

      We’re rooting you on!

  5. June 29, 2010 3:00 pm

    “We’re all in different seasons in our lives and we face an ongoing jockeying of our schedules trying to prevent our worlds from colliding with our time in the Word.”

    What an encouraging word, Stephanie! I try to remind people of that all the time. It’s not about my time looking like your time … it’s about allowing God to redeem the time we have. Love this!

    • June 29, 2010 3:23 pm

      I love that…”It’s not about my time looking like your time.” I used to think I had to be like those godly women I esteemed so much, but I realized that their dailies were very different than mine.

      Thanks for your encouragement and words of wisdom!

  6. Alexis permalink
    June 29, 2010 3:01 pm

    Thank you again for a great post. I have found the more time I spend in the Word, the more I want to do it, I look forward to it, an I find the time to do it!!!

    • June 29, 2010 3:14 pm

      There’s an food additive called MSG that is designed to make you crave more of whatever it’s been added to. The truth and wisdom of your comment reminded me of MSG. The more you eat, the more you want. The more you’re in the Word, the more crave the Word.

      Thanks for encouraging us all!

  7. June 29, 2010 4:41 pm

    So many times I have gotten frustrated and given up spending time in the Word because I didn’t have what I thought was the “right amount” of time to spend. I would hear people talk about spending hours each day, and feel like a failure because I didn’t, but then I heard someone say once that God knows where we are at and He likes any amount of time we can spend with His Word. What a relief! So I have decided, silly as is sounds, to take my bible with me when I go to work, or run errands, and keep it handy at night also, so that even if it’s on my lunch hour, or while I’m waiting in the drive through line, I can at least make good use of my time. So far it’s been a plan that has worked for me and I don’t feel like a failure anymore.

    I really like the idea of penciling it in an appointment book, but I’m not that organized yet…working on it though :).

    • June 29, 2010 4:55 pm

      Lisa ~ I’ve done the same thing. Looked at others who seemed to have the organization thing down to a “t” and I seemed to live life all over the place. I’ve had season of perfectly scheduled time in the Word and seasons of random adventures in the Word.

      But you hit the nail on the head when you decided to take your Bible with you and take advantage of the time the Lord gives you throughout your day! Awesome advice!!!

    • Kristi Stephens permalink*
      June 29, 2010 7:34 pm

      Lisa, when I was working that is exactly what I did! I had some of the sweetest times with the Lord tucked away in a corner at work during my breaks! Just give Him whatever you have… and like the boy with his loaves and fishes, He makes it satisfy us!

  8. June 29, 2010 9:02 pm

    What a refreshing post! I have had three children in three years, and especially when my third was a newborn, I was so frustrated. I never knew when she was going to wake up in the morning, and I would fall asleep reading at night (if I even got that far). My youngest is now one, and I am just now finding a schedule that works. And as you noted, even that schedule gets ruined from time to time when a sick child makes his way into our bed.

    God wants to teach us and uses His Word to do so, yet, He is also a loving, merciful parent. I’d like to think during those seasons when I’m not intently studying but want to, He’s giving me extra hugs to support me until I can nourish my soul with His Words again. Thanks for your post!

    • stephanieshott permalink
      June 29, 2010 9:19 pm

      Jennifer ~ You have blessed me more than I can say! When I was writing that post, I knew there was some moms out there who desperately want to spend time in His Word but are juggling babies, bottles and burping so much that there’s no time, no place and no way to find a routine in the midst of it all.

      I love what you said…”I’d like to think during those seasons when I’m not intently studying but want to, He’s giving me extra hugs to support me until I can nourish my soul with His Words again.”

      He loves us with an everlasting love, we are the apples of His eye, He has inscribed us on the palm of His hands and He calls us His beloved. I’m sure His “hugs” are what helps you be the best mom you can be.

      Praying you get to steal away some time with Jesus soon.

  9. June 29, 2010 9:56 pm

    This evening as I was opening my Bible to have my quiet time (I finally got my daughter to sleep long enough for that! woo hoo!), I opened right to the page of Psalm 19:14 – “Let the Words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”

    I know that I have had a lot of guilt over not having/finding “enough” time to read my Bible and have a quiet time. I’m home with an almost 1-year-old everyday (for the summer, I’m a teacher) and she takes ALL my time. I have often felt that if I don’t have “X amount of time at least” that it’s not good enough or long enough for God. But reading that verse, I noticed something missing. He does not say “the 1 hour meditation of my heart”, he just says “the meditation of my heart”. There are no time constraints and God is thrilled for any time we give Him, even if it’s just 10 minutes here and there throughout my day. It lifts a heavy load for me right now as I have been very frustrated with how little time I have to myself these days.

    I do want to come up with a plan though so that I CAN have a definite private time with the Lord each day. As a mother and wife, I NEED IT SO BADLY!! Tonight I’m going to speak with my husband when he returns home about giving me time in the morning before he leaves for work. That’s the only guaranteed time I have someone else to watch the baby. We are usually running around trying to get stuff done before he leaves, but I think my quiet time will be more important. That “stuff” is always going to need to get done and it can get done another day!!

    Thanks for the great post!

    • stephanieshott permalink
      June 29, 2010 10:29 pm

      Stephanie-I’m so glad you shared your story with us. So many women are in your shoes with a heart that desires to be in the Word and a world the vies for her time to do so. I’m also glad you have the support of your husband to help “make” the time available before he goes off to work.

      I’m so thankful you stopped in to do some digging with us and I want you to know I’ll be praying for you. (It’ll be easy to remember your name.) 🙂

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