Guest Post w/ Jennifer Caracelo - Daily Bible Reading and Prayer Time

It has been a while since our last post about Defining WorshipThis series is about all the different ways that we worship God whether it is in prayer, in work, in parenting, or whatever. It's a diverse array of things and everyone has a unique and important perspective on this. To speak on this topic, we have had the honor of getting some guest posts lined up! Today's post was written by Jennifer Caracelo, the Rebbetzin of Keren Ohr Messianic Synagogue in Savannah, Georgia.

We had her and Jude, her husband, on the show a while ago and if you didn't get to hear it, check it out here!  Jennifer is a very dear friend who I look up to so much and her heart for the Lord is so beautiful and real. I know you will enjoy what God has laid on her heart!

- T + B

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I’d like to talk about the concept of “Daily Bible Reading and Prayer Time.”  I title it that because it is an ingrained institution in our spiritual lives, as it should be.  But many of us, moms especially, have struggled with the spiritual paradigm of a morning quiet time.  Our conventional religious wisdom tells us that we should be spending time with God every morning – first thing to get the day started right.  In theory, I totally agree with this! 

I’m not a morning person.  My kids are up before me every morning.  When my feet hit the ground at 7am, I’m immediately in ‘mom mode’ making lunches and brushing hair and herding young children to the bus stop.  Then it’s home to work with older kids on their school and tackle the to-do list of synagogue and work items.  I do Bible reading when I can and talk to God here and there throughout the day.  I may not spend hours in reading and prayerful meditation, but I have a strong relationship with God and I hear from Him on a regular basis. I’m sure many other women out there are in the same boat.  How many of you struggle with feelings of guilt because your relationship with God doesn’t include the “mandatory” early morning Bible reading and prayer time?  You’re not doing it the way you’ve been told you’re supposed to. There is a subtle message in the body of Messiah that if you don’t have that first thing in the morning time then your time with God is inadequate –lacking – less than.

An amazing miracle happened today; I woke up two minutes before my 6:30 alarm!  (I need 30 minutes to come out of my deep sleep to the land of the living.)  I had a 30 second argument with myself and decided to choose some Bible reading over the warmth of the bed.  The dog had hopped up on the bed to curl up against me for warmth, and I shoved her over to let my feet hit the floor.  The only light was what trickled up stairs from the kitchen as I made my way over to the bookshelf for my Bible.  Suddenly I felt warm wetness through my sock.  I quickly flipped on my cell phone flashlight and shined it on the carpet to reveal two spots of dog vomit and a hairball that she must’ve coughed up in the middle of the night.  Great! I trudged downstairs to grab paper towels, a bag, and cleaner to take care of the mess.  Fifteen minutes later, not bothering to put away the stuff – I’d do it after I got at least fifteen minutes for Bible reading – I continued my journey to the bookshelf.  Guided by the trusty cell light, I was not a foot from my destination when I stepped in another wet spot.  The bright glare of the flashlight shone on a puddle of dog pee on the rug.  By the time I had taken care of that mess I was summoned to put my daughter’s “only pair of jeans” in the dryer so she could wear them today.  I looked at the clock on my cell – 7:00am. My time had disappeared.

But as I went through the morning routine of peanut butter sandwiches and hair bows, a song wound its way through my mind – words directly from God to me. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.  His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness, O Lord! Great is thy faithfulness!”  

When I finally got a chance to sit down this morning I did a search on my Bible app, knowing those words were not just a song, but scripture.  Sure enough I was directed to Lamentations 3:22-23.  The song is pretty much word for word from the ESV translation. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Despite my best intentions and plans to spend 30 minutes in prayer and Bible reading this morning, life got in the way – and that’s okay.  God says it’s okay! His love for me is new every morning.  His grace and mercy and compassion for me are limitless and greater than I can imagine.  He knows that the start to each day is not spent in a blissful, spiritual encounter with Him.  He knew what I would literally step in this morning.  He knew that clean up job would thwart my plans for Bible reading.  He allowed that to show me that He doesn’t need to meet me at 6:30am.  He understands that I have sandwiches to make and pony tails to do.  That’s the job that He has given me right now.  And He knows that I don’t neglect my relationship with Him.

In Judaism, women are not obligated to follow the positive time-bound mitzvot (commandments) such as praying at certain times during the day.  God specifically exempts them to allow them to be totally devoted to their family’s care.  For those women who are single or have kids that are grown, they have the privilege of taking that extra time to spend with God.  But for those of us whose time is not our own, remember this: God does not hold you to an impossible standard.   God desires time with you, but He makes no demands on when and how.  If you ask Him, He will show you ways that you may already be spending that precious time with Him.  Throw off the guilt and condemnation that crushes your spirit and be mindful of His still small voice throughout the day.  Listen for the melody of a praise song He brings to mind, or the words of scripture that He speaks to you as you drive in the car or do the dishes. Treasure all those moments that you talk to him throughout the day, for that is truly “pray(ing) without ceasing.” (1 Thess. 5:10)