You really do mean to study the Bible. Perhaps you've heard some verses that intrigue you, and you'd like to learn more about them, but it's just not practical to pursue your interest when your to-do list is already full.

Maybe a shadow of guilt follows you around whenever you hear about a new Bible study starting at your church, because you know you should attend, but you're just too busy to spare two hours every week. There may even be a dusty Bible study book or yellow, dog-eared magazine article on the Bible that you've been saving for when you finally conduct your own Bible study - the study that never seems to happen.

Okay, admit it. You're not going to study the Bible anytime soon - if ever - at the rate you're going. If this describes you, you're not alone. According to the latest research from The Barna Group, only 23 percent of American Christians in 2005 participate in a small group (such as a Bible study) during a typical week.  And a 2001 Barna poll revealed that just 38 percent of Americans read the Bible at any time other than while they are at church during the past week.

Perhaps you're currently in a season of life where participating in a formal Bible study program would be unrealistic. But that doesn't mean you can't realistically fit Bible study into your life. 

Pockets of downtime are spread throughout each of your days, and those times can either be wasted or used productively. If you reach deeper into the time pockets God has given you, you can discover the treasures of Bible study there. Here's how:

Identify your pockets of free time. Analyze your daily and weekly schedule to figure out the patterns of when you usually experience some free time. Do you routinely have blocks of downtime during your commute to work or while waiting in line to pick up your children from school? Does a certain person consistently run late to meet you for an appointment, forcing you to cool your heels until he or she arrives? Once you determine specific times during each day and week that you expect to be free, you can prepare for them.

Eliminate time-wasters. Consider how you currently spend your free time. As you do, think about how you can eliminate unnecessary activities that fill your time without adding significant value to your life. For example, do you use your downtime to make frivolous phone calls or flip through junk mail? Do you find yourself watching television even when there's nothing special on, or surfing the Internet just for entertainment? Realize that all of your time is a gift from God than, once spent, can never be gotten back. Decide to invest it in something that has eternal value. Cut whatever you can out of your schedule to open up more time for Bible study.

Choose a specific part of the Bible to study. Don't just randomly open up your Bible and study the first portion you read, and don't skip around aimlessly. Think and pray about which book or passage of the Bible you'd like to begin studying. Then place a bookmark in your Bible at that place, and gather any articles or books you'd like to use as commentaries to help you in your study. Plan to focus just on the part of Scripture you've chosen until you complete the study.

Create Bible study goals. Write down a list of specific goals you'd like to accomplish each week as you study the Bible. Then keep this written agenda with you throughout the week (in your purse or wallet) to remind you of your plans.