As a working person, keeping a personal daily time of prayer and bible reading is a difficult task at the best of times.
When one becomes a parent, this becomes a real challenge of immense proportions. Yet we read in Luke 10:38-42:
“Now as they were traveling along, [Jesus] entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (NASB)
All of us as parents can identify with Martha’s busy-ness!
But Jesus makes a statement to Martha that is so lovingly and gently delivered that we might miss its life-changing, priority-confronting significance.
Hear Him as He speaks to you: “[insert your own name here], you are worried and bothered about so many things [children, work, household, aging parents, cell group, Bible study, church activities, etc.]; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her”.
What is the “only one thing [that] is necessary” that Mary chose? She chose to sit at the Lord’s feet, listening to His Word.
How Can We Sit at the Lord’s Feet?
Sit at the Lord’s feet? This could mean going to church, partaking in the Holy Communion, listening to sermons (even from the babies’ room), attending cell group meetings and bible studies.
As busy parents, we should seize any and every opportunity to listen to His Word. However, Jesus’ words to Martha seem to mean something more. Martha was busy doing things for Jesus; Mary concentrated on being with Jesus—listening to Jesus was the focus of Mary’s attention.
You might say, “Lord, I would love to keep a devotional time with You—if only I weren’t so tired all the time—waking up three times last night when the baby cried, working all day, then seeing to the homework of the older children! How is this even possible?”
When my children were small, I was blessed with two fantastic devotional tools which have enabled me to keep this focussed time with Jesus through the busiest parenting periods of my life until the present day:
- a Quiet Time (QT) journal
- a daily devotional book that sets out a Bible passage to read for the day and a accompanying reflection
As part of the Devotions course that our church cell group was running at that time, each of us was challenged to keep a daily Quiet Time with God using the QT journal and a daily devotional book which provided a reading for the day.
As busy parents, we should seize any and every opportunity to listen to His Word.
The QT journal was divided into seven sections per page, covering the whole week, and each section looked like this (you had to fill in the blanks so I have filled in what a typical entry could look like):
Date: 13 April XXXX
Bible Passage: Proverbs 23:12-25 (as prescribed by the reading of the day from Our Daily Bread’s little devotional book)
Key Bible Verse: Proverbs 23:15-My son, if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad.
What this verse says to me: I need to pray regularly for my son to have a wise heart. Dear Lord, please give Neil a wise heart and enable him to make wise choices and decisions all his life.
Each week we had to account for any blank spaces in the QT journal. We also had to share with the cell group what God was saying to us through His Word.
After the first few weeks when there were shame-faced confessions and blank spaces that betrayed not journalling at all/not journalling every day and/or having nothing to share, the group gradually worked up to filling up their individual journals through peer pressure and fear of losing out!
However the sharing soon became animated as we saw how God spoke to each of us in different ways and ministered into our individual lives, even though we had all read the same passage.
To this day, I view this as a life-changing moment in my spiritual journey.
As a young mother of two, I learnt that if I made writing in my QT journal a priority in my life, I would somehow find the time to pray and read God’s Word.
The QT journal and my cell group kept me accountable. Through my QT, God has spoken (and continues to speak) to me through His Word and Spirit as I meet with Him.
He has given me specific words of wisdom that have helped me with not only my parenting, but with my marriage, job, ministry, attitudes and priorities.
I learnt that if I made writing in my QT journal a priority in my life, I would somehow find the time to pray and read God’s Word.
I write down my prayers in that QT journal (which now fills up much more space than those blank lines provided in my very first QT journal!). I record the incidents that marked the day: there is real truth in the words “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12)”.
Why Must We Sit at the Lord’s Feet?
Like Moses, our faces reflect God’s glory when we set aside time to meet with Him alone in prayer and through the Word and His Spirit (Exodus 34:29).
Through the years, I have found that when I am feeling low and depressed, or acting impatient and judgemental, the root cause is more often than not because I have neglected my Quiet Time. Gaps in my QT journal mean that I am not reflecting God’s grace and glory!
Jesus Himself made it a priority to keep a Quiet Time with His Heavenly Father, even though He was faced with the demands of the masses for preaching and healing:
“Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their illnesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:15,16, emphasis added).
As parents, how much more are we in need of sitting at the feet of Jesus!
How else can we find the strength and patience to speak with wisdom and provide faithful instruction (Proverbs 31:26)—when we have to break up yet another sibling fight or deal with our child’s embarrassing screaming temper tantrum at the boss’s party—except through the power of the Holy Spirit because we met with Jesus?
We can then say that “[His] grace is sufficient for [us], for [His] power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9)! We desperately need the power of God to help us in our parenting as we minister to the young lives put into our charge.
If you are overwhelmed with being a “Martha” (even if you are a guy!): remember “only one thing that is necessary”—to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to His Word. Make it a priority to meet with Jesus daily.
Start a QT journal and read a devotional. You can do it. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says so.
Inspired to spend time with Jesus? Visit and bookmark ODB.org for your daily devotional readings.