Sitting through the final concerts, sports events and graduation ceremonies at the end of the school year overloads our family calendar to the point that May begins to compete with December for most activities crammed into one month. Summer provides a great opportunity to take a break from regular routines and hurried schedules.
While I love cheering in the stands, attending class parties and volunteering for a weekly kids’ ministry, I greatly anticipate the summer break. I don’t want to think about carpools or dinners-on-the-go for three long months. Even spiritual rhythms like small groups, men’s and women’s Bible studies and children’s programs take a needed respite. Family time, afternoons at the pool and vacation plans provide unhurried time to connect without the demands of the clock.
The Danger of Summer Days
One danger in the midst of the laid-back attitude of summer comes when we give our personal time in God’s Word and prayer a holiday too. The accountability of Bible studies and small groups with homework and regular meetings helps keep us on track through the fall, winter and spring. In summer we find a real test for our spiritual disciplines.
Here are some ideas I’ve found helpful in keeping a vibrant walk with Christ during the relaxed summer schedule:
1. Focus on daily Bible reading.
Make your daily Bible reading time separate from small group, Sunday School or Bible study lessons all year round.
Perhaps read a chapter in the Old and New Testaments each day before you work on any books or devotionals related to a group in which you participate. Using this plan, you’ll be reading Scripture daily on your own, in context and not through the eyes and interpretation of a human author. This way, when summer comes, even without your homework, you have a habit of time in God’s Word every day.
2. Make a plan.
If you don’t already have a year-round reading plan, then decide on a specific and measurable devotional plan for the summer.
If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time! So make an intentional plan for where and when you’ll study God’s Word during the laid-back summer routine. Are you going to spend time with the Lord in the mornings on your deck, in the afternoon poolside or in the evenings beside your bed? Then decide which portion of the Bible or devotional book you plan to study. Here are some ideas to help you get started:
Check out the reading plans on the YouVersion App. One summer some girlfriends and I chose to all complete a plan called “The Essential Jesus.” We had finished a pretty heavy Old Testament Bible study and wanted to focus on the words of Jesus in the summer. While we never had official meetings, we could text each other occasionally to share insights and keep each other accountable.
Choose a book of the Bible you’d like to read over the summer and pencil in the date next to each chapter so that when you miss a day you can easily find your place. Perhaps you want to read through the four Gospels, a major prophet like Isaiah or get through all the Psalms.
Proverbs has 31 chapters that can each stand alone. Set a goal to read the chapter from Proverbs that corresponds to the day of the month. Don’t worry if you miss a day—you can just start again by looking at the calendar.
You can also check out these resources:
- Devotional Magazines
- Beth Moore Audio Devotions
- Priscilla Shirer Audio Devotions
- Featured Devotionals and Journals
- LifeWay's Devotional App, DevoHub
3. Start a group.
Gather a few friends for an informal summer accountability group. Meet bi-weekly or once a month for a spiritual check-in. (For help, also read: 7 Tips for Starting a Women's Small Group)
Choose a relaxed format, but be sure to ask each other some important questions such as:
- How is your personal prayer time going?
- What have you been learning in God’s Word lately?
- How are things going with your marriage, children and current struggles?
4. Take time to pray.
In the summer I like to get a new journal to write my prayers in while I’m traveling or at home. We can also dialogue with the Lord as we’re driving, watching our children play or walking through our neighborhoods. Summer is a great time to start a prayer journal, begin a journaling Bible or update your prayer lists for your children. With each passing year their needs are changing, so take the time to write out your prayers and dreams for them for the coming year. Contact the missionaries you support for any new specific requests. Write new information to pray about for the friends, neighbors and ex tended family that you’re able to visit with in the summer. Keeping a vibrant prayer life will help ward off the summer spiritual blahs.
While I love the break from routines in the summer, Bible study and prayer are spiritual disciplines that help us grow in faith and spiritual stamina. Like the air we need to breathe, we can’t go too long without time with Jesus. With the kids home a lot more this summer, we’ll need His fresh wind empowering us to enjoy the fleeting moments until school and schedules begin again.