Today’s interview is with a pastor’s wife + mother of 2 grown children + fellow chocolate hoarder + blogger. Denise Cunningham and her husband, Dale have been married for 33+ years and their love for God & each other is clearly evident. I’ve loved learning from Denise through her blog and trust you will be encouraged by reading about her personal Bible study habits!
As a young mom God brought to my heart that I needed to be in His Word more. I neglected it because it was just hard. It was hard to find the time, and I struggled to enjoy it. As I read my Bible though, (especially Psalm 119) I realized that it was really important that I spend greater periods of time in the Word and with a greater love. So I simply began to pray and ask God to give me a love for His Word. “If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” I knew this was His will, and that He would fulfill that request. I can’t really say how long it took, but it truly was answered! God has given me an appetite for studying and memorizing His Word.
It has become so precious just because I asked. I can say like the psalmist, “O how I love I thy law…” [Ps. 119:97]
As the love for His Word grew, and I was hungry to hear from God, I prayed about how to find time because of days filled with homeschooling and ministry life. I began to get up earlier. I would slip out of bed before everyone else, and find a quiet place to read and pray. I couldn’t do as much study and reading in those days, but I tried to have at least 30 minutes with the Lord. Beginning my day with the Lord became my anchor for those busy days of parenting and leading the ladies at our church.
If my children got up while I was still in prayer or study and they knocked on the bedroom door, I would invite them in so they could see what I was doing. I tried not to see that as a disturbance, but an opportunity to teach them this is a special and important time to Mommy.
Variety in the way I have my time is important – otherwise I get bogged down. One year I’ll read through the Bible using a plan that reads in the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs each day. The next year I may use a study book.
I always journal. I think it’s crucial for my recall. It enables me to remember what I studied that day. It is also a marker of my spiritual growth. I love to sit down and read through my journals and see all the Lord taught me in the past year. I don’t write long pages – I simply make bullets and write down a thought about the passage I’ve read, what the Lord said to me and the application for my personal life.
Here’s how I structure my daily Quiet Time:
- Have all my materials gathered together the night before.
- Begin with prayer – confession and asking God to speak to me.
- I have to go to a room where I won’t be distracted by things that need my attention. I go to a bedroom and find a corner so I can’t see something that needs to be done! Crumbs on the kitchen counter or fingerprints on the microwave would divert my attention in a second!
- Read the Scriptures and journal what God says to me.
- Read any other book I’m studying – Missionary biography, book on prayer, or marriage.
- Journal what God says to me.
- Prayer time – I have a Prayer Journal that has different requests for every day. I spend time in praise (song), confession, and requests.
As a young mom I would alter between doing A Woman After God’s Own Heart one year, and Loving God with All Your Mind the next. I felt those two books addressed issues I dealt with on a daily basis and I needed their encouragement to respond Biblically. I’ve done Seeking Him by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and other such books to guide me through the Scriptures. I try also add a book on marriage to read along with my devotional reading. It’s important to me to keep things fresh and my heart tender towards God’s view on my relationship with my husband. Love and Respect, What’s it Like to Be Married To Me?, Created to Be His Helpmeet, and What is a Family? by Edith Schaeffer are some of my favorites.
I am so thankful for all resources we have on our phones today! I love having a Bible app to use for study. I love the YouVersion, and I use many of their plans for Scripture reading.
I also love listening to the Scriptures being read to me on this app. I think it’s another wonderful way for to get the Bible into our hearts.
Denise Cunningham is a pastor’s wife and mother of 2 married daughters. In her own words:
“I’m left-handed. I hoard chocolate. My dresser drawers are usually a mess. I have an identical twin. I have a reputation as a prankster. I’m dangerous around fire. I crave Mexican food. I’m dreaming about writing a book.”
You can find Denise regularly writing at her blog, Refresh Her, where she shares spiritual encouragement and tips for daily life.
Denise, thank you for sharing your heart and time with us! I look forward to reading your future book!
Find all the Dwelling Richly interviews here!