I Need Thee Every Hour: A Vision for Devotions in Changing Seasons
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I first caught the vision when I heard someone share during a funeral at our church. The man’s grandson reflected on many memories, but said that the one impression that would never fade was what he saw each morning during visits to their home. He’d awake to find his grandparents sitting at the kitchen table reading the Bible together.
I was single then. But I knew that’s the kind of marriage I wanted. That’s the kind of priority I wanted to place on God’s Word.
And then I got married and had kids.
My leisurely mornings on the couch with a cup of coffee and my Bible were exchanged for three children piling on top of me in bed saying, “I want food!” long before I had even thought about getting up, let alone started cooking breakfast. And no matter how early I tried to get up, my children would only wake up earlier, too. The 5 o’Clock Club sounded like a good idea in theory, but in practice, it meant tired kiddoes and a grumpy mom who couldn’t even stay awake after dinnertime. I needed to find a way to meet with God without sacrificing those few precious moments with my husband after all the kids were in bed.
“It’s a season,” my mentor reminded me. And I knew it was true. The memories I’d heard, the memories I had of my own grandparents, were of people in a very different season of life than mine. The up-all-night, chasing-kids-all-day time of life does not always lend itself to rising early to meet with Jesus when you’ve only just fallen back into bed once again a few minutes before.
I’ve had to accept that spending time with God isn’t always going to look like my romanticized ideal. Nor will my devotions look like anyone else’s devotions, just as my family’s schedule and needs are unlike any other family’s. My vision had to change.
But the truth is, as a busy mom of little people, I often feel like I need more than just 5 minutes in the Word stolen at some point throughout the day. As a friend once told me, “I Need Thee Every Hour” could be a mother’s theme song:
I need thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
no tender voice like thine can peace afford.
I need thee, O I need thee;
every hour I need thee;
O bless me now, my Savior, I come to thee.
-Annie S. Hawks
I’ve come to realize that this is not the season for spending long hours at Jesus’ feet. This is the season for abiding in Him in the midst of the busyness of motherhood, in the middle of those nights while comforting a crying little one. I can talk to Him during the dishes and the laundry, not just between.
Someday, I’ll be in a different season. But here are five ways I’ve found to incorporate God’s Word into our day right now. They work around noisy children. They don’t require consistency. They are just a few ways I’ve found to dwell in Him when I need Him so desperately.
1. Play an audio Bible.
I am a visual learner: I do not absorb things I hear very well at all if there is nothing visual to back them up. So for a long time, I avoided podcasts and the radio and everything else that would require me to tune my ears in to something above and beyond the noise of the children in my house. But the more I heard about the benefits of reading aloud, the more I realized that I could benefit from auditory learning even if I am not an auditory learner. So I started listening to podcasts. I subscribed to a Bible podcast so it came into my feed with the rest of my podcast subscriptions. And I realized that even though I wasn’t hearing all of it, I was hearing some of it. And some days, that was enough.
Oftentimes I’ll simply start the morning by playing the Psalms in the YouVersion Bible App on our iPad, leaving it on the kitchen table so I can listen while I do my household chores and so my children can hear as they go about their play.
- The YouVersion Bible App has built in audio for most versions of the Bible. Or, you can access it right at Bible.com.
- I love listening to Max McLean’s voice read The Listener’s Bible. Listen or subscribe for a daily excerpt that will take you through the Bible in a year. You can even download MP3’s or purchase CD’s so you can listen wherever you are, without an internet connection.
- If you’re a podcast addict, you can find all sorts of reading plans available via podcast, from Faith Comes By Hearing, ESV (choose RSS for a daily podcast with verses from selected reading plan), The Bible Podcast, and more.
- Faith Comes By Hearing offers all sorts of audio Bibles, from dramatized versions for kids to complete audio Bibles, to the Bible.is App to a Deaf Bible, all available for free download.
- The BibleStick available from Faith Comes by Hearing is a unique way to take God’s Word with you wherever you go. The Military BibleStick Outreach even allows you to give the gift of a portable version of God’s Word to the men and women serving in the military.
2. Listen to Scripture songs.
I learned as a teenager that the right music helps set the tone when you’re taking care of children (just ask my cousins about how I’d sing “Trust and Obey” when they started getting out of order when I was babysitting!). And even though I often just want to turn off the radio and have some peace and quiet, I’ve learned that the second best thing to that elusive peace and quiet is to turn on some music that reminds me of the peace that passes understanding. As a bonus, not only do my children learn the songs that are dearest to their mother’s heart, but they learn the simple truths and the words of Scripture that are laced throughout the songs I choose.
- Rain for Roots provides folk style, God-centered music for little ones: “The Kingdom of Heaven is Like This” and “Big Stories for Little Ones“. My children and I have enjoyed their music immensely since I first found out about them from my friend Jessica’s reviews here on Kindred Grace.
- Songs for Saplings is fun and upbeat music filled with everything from catechism like questions and answers to simple retelling of His works. And the best part is, much of their music is free for anyone to download!
- The Hidden in My Heart Scripture Lullabies have been on my wishlist for awhile. Easy-listening, calming melodies put Scripture to music for all ages to enjoy.
- I grew up with Steve Green’s “Hide ‘Em In Your Heart” on cassette tape. Now it’s a joy to hear my children singing the same scripture put to the same music–and it’s available on CD now!
- The Sons of Korah simply sing the Psalms. And it’s unique and beautiful. The Psalms so often become my prayers when I lack words for how I feel or what I’m thinking, so to be able to put on a CD of my favorite Psalms is truly a healing balm.
- My husband introduced me to Michael Card’s music way back when we were just friends, and I was delighted to discover the rich depth of his work. Michael Card has spent his musical career writing music through many books of the Bible. It’s a joy to listen to the timeless truths presented in a new way.
3. Write it on your doorposts.
I spend a lot of time staring out my kitchen window. Sometimes, I actually remember to tape a Bible verse to my kitchen window so I can focus on truth while I’m doing the dishes. My husband and I leave sticky notes for each other on the bathroom mirror. Our latest cards to each other line our headboard. Why shouldn’t I leave God’s Words out around my house as visible as I leave my husband’s words of love?
Whether your style is sticky notes, 3×5 cards, word art, vinyl lettering, or handmade decor, there are countless beautiful ways to literally put Scripture on the walls throughout your house so you’ll be reminded of His love everywhere you turn.
“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.”
-Deuteronomy 11:18-21, ESV
4. Leave your Bible open on the counter.
I don’t remember which dear lady it was who gave me this piece of advice, but she said to simply leave your Bible open on the counter or the table. Whether you’re able to stop and take a moment to meditate on the passage more, or you’re simply reminded of the verses each time you walk by, it’s one more way to keep God’s Word in front of you throughout your day.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
-Psalm 119:105, ESV
5. Find an app.
For those of us who spend our days operating on our smartphones and devices, we know there’s an app for everything. What better app to have on our phones than the living, breathing Word of God? And what better way to remember to check in with Him before we check in on Facebook than to have the Bible app icon prominently displayed on our phones?
- You can set the YouVersion Bible App to remind you to read the Bible each day, display a verse of the day, and much more. Make your Bible reading a group experience by connecting with your friends, see what they are reading, and share your favorite passages to social media.
- Many of my friends with Apple devices love the #SheReadsTruth app (and I can’t wait until it’s available for Android). I hear their Bible studies are amazing!
- Check out Rachel Wojo’s review of the features of the top 5 Bible apps for more app ideas.
How has your vision for your devotional life changed? How do you listen to His Word above the noise? What aids you in focusing on Him amid all the distractions of life?
Photo: Elisabeth Allen
Thanks for the ideas! I was recently thrilled to discover that I can listen to online sermons etc while I’m driving and they continue even when I go out of reception!!!! Not sure how that works, but I’m thankful for it!
The best part about this is that the suggestions are about the Word, pure and simple… not just hearing a teaching or interview from Christians leaders in pop culture, but actually getting God’s word in our hearts as mom. Great suggestions. I feel like this deserves an overall “Amen.” 🙂
I love how so many of these ideas are helpful for all of us … in any season of life. I especially like the links to Scripture and music. Thank you for sharing … say I on my way to finding some of these resources! 🙂
I like using Seeds Family Worship’s CDs for learning scripture.
Gretchen, this is awesome. I’m still in the treasure-an-hour-at-His-feet stage, but I’m filing this away for when I’m in a completely different season. Well done, my friend. 🙂
My four are between the ages of 6 and 13 and don’t wake me during the night (usually!) or need me for everything they do , so I am in a season where I can have an established time with the Lord. Since they don’t get up until 7:oo, I am able to do it without being dead-dog tired. But I sure do remember those days when that wasn’t the case. I wish I had given myself more grace and consistently tried some of these things you’ve mentioned instead of heaping on the guilt. (And usually doing nothing as a result.)
I REALLY appreciate that you are encouraging actual scripture in each of these suggestions. His Word is what we need the most, and if we only have a small amount of time, then that should always be our food. Devotionals and other books should be a supplement rather than a substitution.
I need to download some Songs for Saplings for my younger two to listen to during their daily rest time!
I am loving these posts! I am having a similar experience with the audio Bible. I would turn it on and the next thing I knew 10 chapters would fly by without my really “hearing” anything. But now I am soaking it up, even if I tune in and out. I’m finding that certain spots will suddenly grab my attention in the midst of chaos and I’ll meditate on them…or I’ll have a very vague sense of having read through several passages, even if I was distracted.
As for posting Scripture, I went through a calligraphy phase…and I’d love to get back into that. It’s sort of in-between writing something quickly on a Post-It and a more complicated art project.
Thank you for reminding me to avoid the well-meaning but deadly comparison beast!