Five months. That’s how long it’s been we were all told to stay home in order to stay safe. While the quarantine has protected the physical health and even lives of many, there have also been unavoidable negative consequences. The mental, relational, and economic stress on individuals and families has been distressing, but not necessarily surprising. However, the spiritual impact was a bit more unexpected. For many, more time at home has meant less time in the Bible.
According to the recent study, “State of the Bible 2020,” overall Bible reading and engagement continues its decline in America. Not too surprising. But, the big impact the quarantine has had was surprising. For instance, regular Bible reading among women who have previously been deeply engaged with Scripture dropped 7% since the quarantine began. (For more information on the state of the Bible in America and the rate of decline during the quarantine see “Bible Reading Drops During Social Distancing.”)
Reasons for Less Time in the Bible
So, why would women (and men) who had previously been regular students of God’s Word move it to the back burner during quarantine? Although not based on an official study, here are some reasons I’ve heard or read about:
- Less Time – For moms specifically the quarantine has increased the demands on her time. Many, who are now working from home, also have to home school their children.
- Less Personal Space – Everyone is home all the time. It’s hard to simply find the time to be alone with God. (For some practical tips see “How to Have a Quiet Time When You Have No Time that’s Quiet.”)
- Less Community – Yes, our virtual circles have really expanded. But these are no substitute for sitting with people face-to-face in real life. God created us for Christian community and when we don’t have it we suffer. Loss of our local church community equals loos of encouragement, support, and challenges to stay close to God. We spiritually feel the loss of worship services, small groups, and Bible study groups.
Consequences of Less Time in the Bible
The Bible is our source of spiritual nourishment. It’s the primary way we hear from God. Along with prayer, it is the primary way we commune with God. So, when we aren’t regularly filling our minds with God’s truth there will be consequences. Here are just a few:
- Distance from God – Just like we need to spend time with our spouse or best friend to keep that relationship strong, we need to spend time with God to remain close.
- Thinking more like the World – What we put into our mind shapes our thinking, which then shapes our attitudes and actions. Without Scripture, what will shape your thinking? (See “What are You Feeding Your Mind?”)
- Lack of wisdom and guidance – Without God’s Word we are left to our own limited human “wisdom” to navigate life. And we sure need God’s clarity more than ever right now! (See “Four Spiritual Benefits from God’s Word.”)
What Can We Do?
We can’t wait until things “get back to normal.” We need to adjust, adapt, and accept a “new normal.” At least for now. Here’s a few ideas:
- Develop a new routine – Life at home is different. Perhaps you let “schedule” go out the window. It’s time to develop a new schedule. A routine that works for your family now. Find a time during the day when you can get alone with God. Let your family know and then protect it!
- Stay, or get back in, community – I know, some churches still aren’t able to meet in person. But some are. If your church is meeting then go. In person. Virtual church has been a blessing, but it is NOT good enough for the long run. Some churches aren’t having large group worship but are now meeting small groups. GO!
- Seek extra encouragement – In addition to your local church, there are many virtual resources to help you get in and stay in the Word. (Again, not a substitute, but a supplement!) I lead a daily Bible reading group for women on Facebook. I would love for you to check it out. Also, Hello Mornings starts an online study of Ezra today!
I’d love to hear from you! How has the quarantine impacted your time in the Bible? If you have tips for staying in the Word, please share them in the comments below! If you’re struggling, tell us that too so we can encourage you!