Confessions of a Backsliding Bible-reader

by Helen Thorne

I have a confession to make. I’m not very good at having quiet times. I know they are important. I believe the Bible is God’s living and active word that equips me for all I am called to do. And I know that building up my relationship with God in prayer is utterly vital. But I’m still rubbish at doing it. And I feel just awful as a result.

I could give you a list of excuses …

  • I can’t do it before work because I’m too sleepy (I’m a classic put the dirty dishes in the fridge and the milk in the sink kind of person first thing in the morning).
  • I can’t read the Bible on the way to work because I would throw up and I’m guessing that would be construed as more than a little unpleasant by my fellow-commuters.
  • Once I’m at work I’m far too busy.
  • And when I’m home in the evenings, I barely have time to eat before I go out to some meeting or other. Reading anything just isn’t an option.

But the trouble is, they are just excuses. Excuses that ooze out of my sinful heart.

The reality is that God would much prefer a sleepy attempt to engage with him than no attempt at all. I could quite happily pray on the bus and listen to his word on my mp3. No-one in my office would actually mind if I took a proper lunch-break and went somewhere quiet to read. And it would probably be far healthier for my spiritual life if I did a little less “for God” and spent a little longer “with God” occasionally saying “no” to an activity so I can spend some serious time with my heavenly Father.

Of course, if I enacted just one of those strategies, I’d also feel a lot less guilty about the fact that I am missing out on the most crucial meal of the day – the meal where I feed on God’s precious word and get the spiritual nourishment I so desperately need. And I’d be far better equipped to carry out his will in every walk of my life.

So it’s just as well that God has placed me in a community of believers. People who are willing to pray for me, encourage me and keep me accountable. People who understand the struggles but are so convinced that feasting on the good things in God’s word each day is so important that they are willing to put themselves out to ensure that I get stuck in. People who will text me / email me and maybe even talk to me face to face and ask me tough questions like, “what did you learn in your quiet time today?”

Having that kind of encouragement keeps even me on the straight and narrow (most of the time!). Having my brothers and sisters lovingly nudging me on a regular basis, helps me see beyond the urgent and make time for the essential. And I am so grateful to God for each one of them.

If you have the same struggles, why not open up to a few people in your congregation about how hard you are finding it to get your quiet times done? Let them spur you on to reading God’s word. It’ll be a good way for them to exercise the gift of encouragement ,,, and a great way to ensure that you grow. 

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