I believe every Christian should strive to carve out time dedicated to Scripture reading and prayer every day. But for many of us, devotions aren’t very daily. Some people, like mothers of young children, have excellent reasons for this. Others, like many college students, not so excellent.
If you struggle to fit in a daily quiet time, the open spaces in your schedule can be great places to squeeze in the Bible. Even if you have a robust devotional life, you can still cram the Bible in wherever and however you can. Wedge it into the gaps in your schedule. Stuff it into the in-between places, the nooks and crannies of unclaimed time throughout your day. In other words, fit the Bible into the margins of your life.
I don’t mean push the Bible out to the margins of your life, as in, “Quit making the Bible so central in everything you do!” But all of us, even the busiest, have open spaces in our lives where God’s Word can be given a place.
How many minutes a day do you spend waiting in line, washing the dishes, or driving?
Or, how many minutes do you spend on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram?
Each of those numbers will give you a rough idea of how much Bible you might be able to squeeze into your daily routine. Is it a sin to browse Facebook or carry on a game (or six) of Words with Friends? Not necessarily. But if you regularly find time for those hobbies but only irregularly find time for God’s Word, what does that say about your heart? What is it that you’re craving more than the nourishment of every word that proceeds from the mouth of God?
Often in the marginal times your attention is partially occupied by something else: commuting, chores, errands, and so on. You might not have your reading chair, slippers, and cup of coffee (or tea) handy. You might not even have your hands free to crack open a physical Bible. But here are at least two ways you can fit Bible intake into times like these.
1) Listen to an audio Bible
A number of Bible apps and online Bible resources come with free, quality audio Bibles. (For example, these are at BibleStudyTools.com.) If you’ve got twenty minutes while you’re riding the bus or picking up your kids’ toys after bedtime, you can listen through several chapters of Scripture. If you’ve tried and failed to make it through a Bible-in-a-year plan, why not supplement your reading with listening? You might find that listening to Scripture while doing something else actually aids your focus on the Word.
2) Memorize Scripture
Listening, of course, is one way to do this. If you’ve got a fifteen minute commute to work in the car, you can listen to Ephesians 1 five times. Do that every day for a week, and you’ll be well on your way to memorizing the entire, magnificent chapter.
Do you have any consistent windows of time when you can fit in Scripture memory? Maybe a treadmill workout, or walk to the store, or washing dishes at night? All you need in order to memorize Scripture is the ability to mutter the verses out loud and occasionally glance at your pocket Bible or phone to check the wording.
Whether it’s listening or memorizing or good old-fashioned reading, there are all kinds of ways you can fit the Bible into all kinds of times during your day. Think of those gaps in your day as loose change. You could simply leave them lying around, or you could invest some of them in God’s Word and see what they add up to in six months, or a year, or ten years.
You may not be able to fit the Bible into every single spare moment of every single day. I certainly don’t do that, and I don’t know anyone who does. But too many Christians’ daily routines include no Bible, and something is infinitely better than nothing—especially when it comes to taking in the Word of God.
If you’re looking for a way to start, pick one window of your day when you can fit Scripture in, and try to do so every day for a week.
Time with the Bible is time well spent. How can you fit more Bible into the margins of your life this week?
Bobby Jamieson is a PhD candidate in New Testament at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of Sound Doctrine: How a Church Grows in the Love and Holiness of God (Crossway, 2013).