When my first baby was born, I rocked at Bible study. He liked to be held while he was sleeping, and I didn’t really want to get up and do the dishes anyway, so I was conveniently stuck on the couch with plenty of time to study my Bible. Then my second child was born and my third shortly after that, and everything changed. Quiet time was no longer quiet.
I’m an all or nothing kind of person, so when I found myself deep in the exhausting throes of young children and I could no longer do my Bible study the way I was used to, I just gave up. I didn’t know what to do if I couldn’t read my Bible “the right way.” It took me months of floundering and missed opportunities to fellowship with God before I found new ways to get in God’s Word.
I’m no longer a mom of littles, but it seems like no matter how old my kids get, life always feels busy. Seasons and rhythms are constantly shifting, so I must be willing to shift my Bible study methods too. Throughout the years of motherhood, I’ve learned a variety of techniques that keep me in God’s Word, no matter the season.
Five Bible Study Techniques for Busy Moms
1. Read one psalm when you wake up, and get back to the Word if you can.
I am a firm believer that we need a rewiring of our heart attitudes as soon as we wake up, but motherhood often makes early morning Bible study challenging. If you’ve been up all night with a sick child or up late helping your son finish the science fair project he's refused to work on for the last month, it can be hard to get up early. Sometimes you set an alarm an hour early, but your children intuitively sense the peaceful morning you’re enjoying and wake up even earlier to join you. In these circumstances, fit in one psalm right when you get up in the morning, as a way to tune your heart to God’s grace, then pick up with a deeper study later in the day. Some days, you’ll find that all you manage to squeak in is that one psalm in the morning, but if you spend time considering it throughout your day, God can use that one nugget to work in your heart.
2. Study one chapter at a time in depth for a long time.
If you love inductive study, but simply can’t keep up with a group study, allow yourself to go through one book of the Bible very slowly. It’s okay to spend a week on one chapter before you move onto the next. You may find it helpful to leave your study open on the kitchen counter or sneak it out during your fifteen-minute break at work, just using whatever snippets of time you can manage. During a particularly difficult season, I once spent months in Psalm 145 before I was ready to move on. When I’m doing this method, I still challenge myself to consider two questions every day: What have I learned about God today? How should this change my heart and life?
3. Read lots of chapters quickly, looking for one or two common themes.
This method zooms out and considers the metanarrative (the overarching story) of the Bible and systematic theology. You might take one book of the Bible or a group of books and make notes on what they have to say about a specific topic. You may consider what the New Testament epistles say about walking with the Spirit or what the minor prophets say about the faithfulness of God or how the Gospels talk about light and darkness. Then you’ll read (not skimming, but not pausing long) those chapters or books as quickly as you can, making notes on what they have to say about your subject. As themes develop, you may go back to certain texts and study them more deeply, but the main purpose is to get a big picture view of God’s Word.
4. Memorize and meditate.
I have often neglected Scripture memory since becoming a mom. Between growing up in Awana and attending a Christian school, I memorized large passages of Scripture as a child. I find myself relying on old Scripture memory instead of challenging myself to add more to my already over-busy brain, but continuing to memorize is essential, even in busy seasons—it helps us to wield the sword of the Spirit in our daily lives. In light of this, I’ve started taking short breaks in my other Bible study methods to focus on memorizing a group of verses or a chapter. It gives me the opportunity to study a passage of Scripture in depth, memorize it, and meditate on it more deeply—really considering how it changes my life as it comes to mind throughout my day.
5. Study with a group.
Sometimes when we think we don't have time to study God’s Word, all we really need is accountability. Even if you can’t imagine how it would fit, I highly recommend you connect yourself to a Bible study through your local church. In busy seasons, intergenerational studies can be especially helpful. It is good to study God’s Word with women who have a larger capacity to study the material more deeply than you can in this season. The insights of those women will be helpful for you, even if you only have time to do the minimum. Often the insights of women in different seasons has spurred me on to find more time for personal Bible study. In busy seasons, a little discipleship and accountability can make all the difference.
These five methods all have one thing in common: reading the Bible. We make it so complicated sometimes with rules and regulations, but the most important thing about being in God’s Word is to just actually be in it. If these methods don’t work for your season, get creative and find one that does—not because it’s the right thing to do or because it’s expected of you, but because reading the Bible is a primary means of growing closer to our Savior.