How to Prioritize Bible Study with Freedom {Guest Post}

Do Not Depart is pleased to welcome Mary Beth from New Life Steward as our guest today…

At at 3:37 AM I stumbled into bed after rocking my toddler back to sleep. I turned my alarm off—thinking my husband’s alarm would do the job so I could squeeze in Bible study and a shower before my son woke up.

Before I knew it, I had overslept—no time for Bible study or a shower now. I hastily dressed my son for Mother’s Day Out—thinking I’ll fit in some Bible study after I see my one client for the morning.

But then I get a text from another client asking for an emergency session, and I remember I’m supposed to clean the bathrooms today. So I spend 3/4 of my free morning in counseling sessions with clients and the other 1/4 cleaning bathrooms and showering.

Still no Bible study.

The day continues to roll on, and before I know it, I’m crawling into bed when I remember—I never did my Bible study.

So I make the choice to set my alarm and try again tomorrow.

It all starts with a choice.

On mornings that I manage to roll out of bed, I’ve usually got about 5 minutes to pray, 5 minutes to study my lesson, and 5 minutes to work on my memorization. That’s 15 minutes total. If any one part goes over, I probably don’t get to the rest.

But it all starts with a choice. Will I get out of bed?

Every person is created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26). Many theologians agree that part of this “likeness” or “image” involves man’s reason, emotions, and will. These abilities separate us from the rest of creation and reflect God’s likeness. Focusing in on man’s will, we have the ability to determine–to choose.

Let’s apply this to the current choice before me: will I get out of bed?

When I sit back and take stock of my life, I have time for what I want to have time for. There’s always time to eat. Time to watch a TV show. Time to write. Time to read. Time to play with my son. Time to connect with my husband after the baby is asleep.

I make choices that create time for these activities.

The same is true of the spiritual disciplines. I make choices to either make time for them or not. Lately, the choice for me has been to set and heed the alarm when it goes off or not. Getting out of bed reflects a choice to prioritize Bible study. But more often than not, I choose to ignore my alarm.

That’s the problem with sin. We are predisposed to choose ourselves, our own wants and desires. Left to my own devices, I will choose sleep over an early morning Bible study every time. Even Paul struggled with this (Rom. 7:15 and following)! When I am in charge of my will, I will always choose my own selfish way.

Freedom comes from believing the truth.

Thankfully, we have a God who reached down to us and intervened in our sinful lives through Christ (Phil 2:5-7). He draws us to repentance with His kindness (Rom. 2:4). Through grace, His Spirit stirs in our hearts and causes us to long for God’s Word (Eph. 2:8-9). When the Lord is in charge of my will, I’m drawn into deeper relationship with Him.

This is such a freeing truth to realize. I do not have to muster up enough inner strength to get up when that alarm goes off. In fact, I am wholly unable to do this on my own. I can rest and ask the Lord to draw me to Himself with His Spirit. Then my will slowly conforms to His, and I want to get up to study His Word. The actions come naturally because the Holy Spirit is sanctifying me–slowly molding me into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). The glory belongs to the Lord because it’s His work in me.

I have a choice, but when I submit my will to the will of the Father, His strength enables me to follow His will in my choosing.

What is influencing your will–yourself, the culture, or the Holy Spirit and Scripture?

Mary Beth

My first love is Jesus Christ followed quickly by my husband and my son. I am now a stay at home mom, writer, and blogger. My career was first in teaching and then in Marriage and Family Counseling. Living in a small, Southern town in Mississippi, we enjoy SEC football, walking around barefoot, and playing outside. A day to myself would be spent napping, blogging, and reading with a bit of reality TV mixed in! You can find me blogging at New Life Steward, Facebook and Twitter!

Photo Credit: Jenni C.


  1. Wonderful, thought provoking post, Mary Beth!
    Striving to lean into Him so my choices mimic His…

    All for Him with hugs to you,

  2. Mary Beth, thank you for showing us so clearly that we must make a choice to spend time with God, but we don’t have to rely on our own power!

  3. Such beautiful truth on something I have struggled with for years. It’s freeing to know that even though I can’t do it on my own, I can rely on His strength. And He has never failed me yet!

  4. Great post, Mary Beth. It’s not always easy to get up and get in the Word, but it’s always worth it. Glad you found a time that works for you!

  5. Beautiful! It is so very true, our time must be scheduled and nothing must come in between our time with the Lord! Thanks for sharing! Blessings!

  6. Love this!

  7. Such a relatable post, Mary Beth. This sentence sums up the gift of reliance we find in our choosing: “I have a choice, but when I submit my will to the will of the Father, His strength enables me to follow His will in my choosing.” Thanks for this post!

    • I’m grateful to the Lord for reminding me of that Truth. I often struggle with feeling the need to do everything in my own strength, just perfect…which inevitably falls apart!

  8. “When the Lord is in charge of my will, I’m drawn into deeper relationship with Him.
    ….. I can rest and ask the Lord to draw me to Himself with His Spirit.”
    That quote is like finding a gold mine of truth! Even when I have time, I sometimes find myself unmotivated to study the Word, I would rather be relaxing with a game or book! But the more I DO learn about the Lord, the more I WANT to know about the Lord. Slowly but surely I am being drawn deeper into His Will. What could be better??
    I also loved the update you posted on your blog. Wise Words.

  9. Oh Mary Beth! This is just so good … and I appreciate your willingness to be real. It is always going to be hard to get up … our enemy wants it to be. But oh the sweetness of doing so!!

    • I’ve actually made the decision to do Bible study in the evenings before bed. It’s when I can be most consistent at least for this season. :) Thanks for your encouragement and sharing the post!

      • Laurie Messer says:

        Have to chime in here and say I’m up right now after everyone else is in bed because I am still trying to get my Bible study finished that I began at 9 a.m. this morning!!! I jumped on Facebook to check in with the women who are doing this study with me and found this blog post in my news feed. I thank God for your words Mary Beth! This is definitely for me and I thank God for speaking to me through your words. All day today I have been pulled away by others who need me…my children, my husband, friends from church who needed to talk, etc. Just wanted to jump in here to let you now your words ministered to me. All day today I have been saying, “God, Your grace is sufficient, Your grace is sufficient.” Now on to finish my study! :-)

  10. Such a good post, Mary Beth. Even at my season, it is often hard to get up. Tired from all those mothering years that are not quite up. Thank you so much for sharing honestly and giving thoughtful and provoking spiritual insight.

  11. I love how you weave together both our need to be disciplined and yet our dependence upon grace. It’s a mystery I’m still trying to figure out but probably never will. ;-) And that’s okay. Thanks for sharing your story, Mary Beth.

  12. This post was a great reminder that I make choices everyday and I can choose what I prioritize. Often I excuse myself from spending time in prayer by saying “I forgot” or “I didn’t have enough time” …thank you for calling us to be honest with our decisions!

    • It’s hard to admit that we make those decisions sometimes isn’t it? I often find myself saying, you deserve a bit more sleep—you had to get up with the baby. Eeek. We have to seek the Lord to help us find that balance between grace and obedience.

  13. Oh I’m glad you found the update! It’s really freeing isn’t it? To realize, it’s not up to us!


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