Did you know that 66% of American women want to read the Bible more than they currently do? The top reason for lower Bible engagement? They feel too busy with life’s responsibilities, which—let’s face it—is a feeling that plagues most of us. Christian women often feel overwhelmed by all of the things demanding their time, attention, and energy. Busy women feel like they’re running on empty with a longing to be spiritually fed.
Bible Gateway interviewed Asheritah Ciuciu (@asheritah) about her book, Bible & Breakfast: 31 Mornings with Jesus—Feeding Our Bodies and Souls Together (Moody Publishers, 2019).
What prompted you to start the Bible & Breakfast challenge on your blog in 2016? How did participants respond?
Asheritah Ciuciu: When I was a teenager, I read of a Chinese Christian who vowed, “No Bible—no breakfast,” and I admired his commitment to put God’s Word first in his life. But then I went to college, married, got a job, had kids…. And my responsibilities challenged my ability to prioritize God’s Word. I wanted to read the Bible every day; I just felt like I didn’t have time.
So, a few years ago I invited my blog readers to join me in reading our Bibles while we eat breakfast—because behavior science shows that we’re more likely to stick with a new habit if we link it to an existing habit. Over 1,000 women from around the world joined us that first year, and many asked me to bring the challenge back.
What is a “Quiet Time” and what are common struggles Christians experience with it?
Asheritah Ciuciu: The term “Quiet Time” is relatively new in Christendom, though it describes the ancient habit of meeting God in his Word and in prayer, a discipline practiced by Christians for two millennia.
However, contemporary descriptions of “Quiet Time” are often rigid and formulaic, laying burdens on believers that we were never meant to carry. Expectations like “reading the Bible in a year” or “praying for an hour a day” or “only doing inductive Bible studies” often do more harm than good, though they may be held sincerely.
When we fail at these unrealistic “Quiet Time” expectations, we’re burdened with guilt and shame, which leads us to avoid God instead of seeking him. We can also be tempted to turn our “Quiet Time” performance into a measuring stick for our righteousness, relying on our own achievements to earn good standing with God instead of relying on Christ alone and his finished work on the cross (Galatians 2:20-21).
What do you mean when you write that the Bible does not suggest a one-size-fits-all Quiet Time formula?
Asheritah Ciuciu: There’s no passage in the Bible that mandates a 60-minute “Quiet Time” every day. Nor does it say that morning devotions are better than evening devotions or sit-in-the-carpool line devotions. When our hearts belong to him, our methods can change to fit the demands of each season of life, as we practice becoming aware of his presence in us and all around us.
God is a creative God, and he created each of us one-of-a-kind to connect with him in myriad ways, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus wants us to seek him with all of our hearts (Jeremiah 29:13), not out of guilt, but out of joy, because in his presence is fullness of joy and eternal pleasures (Psalm 16:11).
To those who are overwhelmed by the demands of religiosity, Jesus says: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV).
Trade the formulas for freedom in Jesus, and seek him with all your heart.
How has the Bible Gateway Bible Audio App helped you be consistent in reading the Bible?
Asheritah Ciuciu: Listening to the audio Bible has been a LIFESAVER during busy seasons of motherhood. When my first daughter was born, I was so sleep-deprived that I would literally fall asleep whenever I’d sit down to read my Bible. So instead, I started listening to the Bible chronologically using the Bible Audio App whenever I’d wake up at night to feed her. Those midnight feedings became a precious time of hearing God’s Word spoken over me and my daughter, and I was pleasantly surprised when I finished listening to the entire Bible before she was 6 months old!
Nowadays, my three children and I listen to the audio Bible during our first car ride of the day, whether it’s a short 2-minute drive or a 20-minute drive. My children know to expect it, and I look forward to it.
How do you coach people to prioritize time for talking to God and reading his Word when there seems to be no time?
Asheritah Ciuciu: First: Start small. How many times did you promise yourself on January 1 that THIS will be the year you’ll change everything about your spiritual habits? And how long did that last? Likely not very long. Instead, start small. Tiny, even. Make it your goal to start your day praising God for one attribute that’s true about him while you brush your teeth. Or purpose to read one Bible verse while you eat breakfast. Or listen to 1 chapter of the audio Bible while you get ready for work. Or memorize a verse of the Bible while you walk the dog. Don’t despise the small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10).
Second: Link it up. Attach your new Bible habit to an already existing habit. You’ll notice I did this in the examples above. When you link a new habit to an existing habit, you’re more likely to keep with it. It’s brain science.
Third: Celebrate your wins. Every day that you successfully complete your tiny habit, celebrate your progress! You’re one step closer to establishing a lifelong habit of meeting God in his Word. Keep your heart focused on who you’re getting to know in Scripture, and talk with him throughout the day about what you read. Thank him for helping you make progress, and recognize that he rejoices over you (Zephaniah 3:17).
The Result: Over time, your tiny habit will be established for life, and you can build on it; lengthening the amount of time you’re reading, or linking it to a new tiny spiritual habit. When you fill your day with multiple tiny spiritual habits, you’ll be meditating on God’s Word and talking with him all day long.
What’s at stake for the believer who doesn’t make time for spiritual habits?
Asheritah Ciuciu: If Jesus believed that “man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4), and if we believe that he’s the Bread of Life who fills us for all eternity and causes us to never hunger again (John 6:35), then when we don’t regularly feed our souls God’s Word, we’re literally starving ourselves.
That sounds harsh, but it’s true.
Guilt and shame will never succeed in establishing a lifetime habit of feasting on God’s Word. But hunger will drive us back to the Bible day after day. And when we come to God hungry, he promises to satisfy us (Matthew 5:6).
Speaking to the church in Laodicea 2,000 years ago and to us today, Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelation 3:20). Ditching the Quiet Time formulas doesn’t mean that we ignore God’s Word. Not at all. It means we respond to Jesus’ call by reimagining what it looks like to invite him into our day, knowing him and loving him more and more.
Explain what you mean by “Snack on the Go” and “FEAST at the Table.”
Asheritah Ciuciu: Most of us don’t eat a perfectly-balanced breakfast every morning. Some days, my family and I linger over a breakfast feast of eggs, bacon, fruit salad, and pancakes; but most days, I’m lucky to grab a smoothie on my way out the door.
We intuitively know that some nutrition is better than nothing, but we have a hard time thinking that way when it comes to reading the Bible. As I mentioned, we’re easily caught in this all-or-nothing mindset, and so we can go for days or weeks without cracking open our Bibles because we’re waiting for the perfect time to have the perfect devotions. But in reality, we make more progress when we feed our souls with small spiritual “snacks” on a regular basis, and enjoy those spiritual “feasts” whenever time allows.
So I’ve structured Bible & Breakfast: 31 Mornings with Jesus to give readers the option each day of choosing a short devotional “snack” on the go or lingering at the breakfast table with an inductive Bible study “feast.” One option isn’t better than another; it comes down to consistently feeding our souls each day, even just a few Bible bites at a time.
What is the role of community in developing spiritual habits?
Asheritah Ciuciu: The Bible wasn’t meant to be read alone. Most of the books of the Bible were written to communities, intended to be read out loud while gathered together. This allowed for communal spiritual formation, accountability, and a safe space to discuss what the text means and how to live it out.
We miss out on the richness of communal reading when we isolate our Bible reading time to private “Quiet Time.” That’s not to say there’s not a time or place for reading the Bible alone—but it’s certainly not mandated in Scripture, and it’s not the only way to grow in our knowledge of God’s Word.
Instead, let’s think creatively about how we can link arms with our spouses, children, neighbors, and Christian brothers and sisters to grow in our spiritual habits. For some, that might look like reading a book of the Bible out loud, from beginning to end, in your small group, and allowing God’s Words to flow over you and in you instead of immediately dissecting a passage or talking about how it makes us feel. (It’s possible! Over 30 books of the Bible take 30 minutes or less to read out loud.)
What resources do you have for readers who want to learn more?
Asheritah Ciuciu: Readers who want to develop a Bible & Breakfast habit in their own lives can find a Bible reading plan, lockscreens, videos, and an encouraging community at bibleandbreakfast.com/freebies. For those pen-and-paper readers who prefer to have something in their hands to guide them, they can use my newest book, Bible & Breakfast: 31 Mornings with Jesus.
Bio: Asheritah Ciuciu (pronounced choo-choo) is a bestselling writer and speaker, wife to her high school sweetheart Flaviu, and mama to three spunky kiddos. She grew up in Romania as a missionary kid and studied English and Women’s Ministry at Cedarville University. She is the founder of One Thing Alone Ministries—an online ministry that helps overwhelmed women find joy in Jesus through creative and consistent time in God’s Word. Asheritah is the author of Bible & Breakfast: 31 Mornings with Jesus, He is Enough, Unwrapping the Names of Jesus, and Full. Her writing and speaking has been featured on Focus on the Family, Revive Our Hearts, Moody Radio, Relevant Magazine, Proverbs 31, and MOPS International. For more information about Asheritah, her books, and writing/speaking ministry, visit www.asheritah.com.
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