Is Prayer Your Steering Wheel? Or Your Spare Tire?

“How are you?”

Traditionally, we’ve answered, “fine.” But more commonly, the new answer is — “BUSY!  I’ve been crazy busy. Not sure what I’m even doing.”

Fine implied a sense of well-being. Busy suggests our time is occupied. But how we are doing has a lot to do with what and Whom is occupying our lives.

IMG_3079I long for peace, stillness, quiet — but I feel busy, distracted, overwhelmed and scattered much of the time. I’m not sure exactly what I’m doing. Which begs the question — what do I WANT to be doing? What really matters?

We frequently talk about our goals and priorities. But we can’t truthfully have priorities unless we are willing to STOP doing one thing in order to do the better thing. So many of us constantly ADD to our schedules… saying yes to the next thing without ever subtracting anything! All of us are stewards of the same 24 hour day. Which of your priorities is getting squeezed out due to your chronic busyness?

IMG_4110For many Christians, Jesus (seeking His face) gets lost in our fast paced busyness. We profess that prayer, worship, praise, petitioning God, and reading our Bibles is foundational to our Christian walk. Of utmost importance to us. But some days we barely squeeze in a minute at bedtime to sigh… “Lord please forgive me, bless me and those I love, and please — could I sleep through the night, just this once? I’m so tired.”

We believe these few moments are all we can afford to give Him. Recently I had a 16-month period worthy of a country song.  Three weddings, my father’s death, my first grand daughter’s birth, a fire, and a move. Complete with their own caprice, all were squeezed into my already crazy busy life.

I wish I could say it was my priority on maintaining a rich and constant prayer life that got me through this overwhelming season. In truth,  my prayer life shifted to one of abiding prayer (I was with God: thankful and aware of Him), but my time devoted solely to being in His presence was inconsistent at best. I believed I was just too busy for daily, deep, relational prayer time.

IMG_4032I want to change that moving forward… because “normal” only exists as a setting on my dryer! “Normal” days won’t magically follow this “season.” Maybe I will have a little reprieve, but not for long. Life keeps coming. I’m responsible to choose how I will be.

I needed union with God through all the craziness. I don’t need to take another step without the Holy Spirit’s hand. I’ve missed out on blessings these last months by letting distraction and busyness curb my prayer life — why?

Even when we say we say we WANT to make prayer a priority, we’re neglectful. Following are two simple reasons:

  • We believe the lie that we don’t have time.
  • We don’t believe the Truth that prayer will really make a difference in our lives — that it’s necessary.

First — you and I both have time. How much time do you spend watching TV? (average is 5 hours a day) On social networks? (average is over 2 hours/ day) — you get my drift. Screen addiction is real! As are the idols of worshipping our children, work, hobbies, etc. Whatever it is you are doing, we all make time for what we want to do. For Who we love.

We know the right answers. Maybe we need compelling reasons to believe in and obey God’s command to pray.

Prayer — stepping away for quiet, devoted time with His Father — was necessary even for Jesus, who was God! He knew his time on earth was short, yet in the midst of His demanding, important ministry of healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, saving the world form destruction and teaching about God — He frequently slipped away to a solitary place. Left all the many miracles He could do… to be with His Father (Mark 1).

IMG_4685If anyone could have justified busyness it was Jesus. One with God. Always successful. Always good. Infinitely able — but He consistently left demands and to-do lists undone to be alone with God the Father in prayer. It was His priority. And he knew it was necessary and fruitful. How much more so for us — no matter what all we have on our plates?

Jesus said not to even try doing life without ample time spent seeking Him. It would amount to nothing!  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

While He was on earth Jesus himself was dependent on spending vital time in prayer with the Father. How much more so should we? Hebrews 5:7 reveals the passionate prayer life of our Lord.  Jesus knew prayer to the Father was necessary on this earth.

IMG_4300In John 5:19 Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.”

And we try to rationalize that we are too busy, important, overwhelmed… to pray?

God made us to do good works… the opposite of busyness isn’t laziness. But when our prayer life falters, we easily land in a sloth of distracted activities (maybe seemingly productive), but it’s just fruitless busyness without God at the center. How much better all our efforts would be (even if we had less time to give to service and work), if we refused to squeeze out God. Do we really believe that? Do we believe His Word?

It’s a matter of the heart. Am I a people pleaser, proud of my accomplishments, relying on my own strengths and ability to perform? Do I have something to prove? Am I over achieving? A martyr? Seeking comfort and ease? How am I making life about me? The list is endless.

Why am I doing “this” (fill in with our current excuse) and claiming it leaves me little time for prayer? We are finite. Time is finite. We need to embrace our inabilities and believe that God is the One who accomplishes all things. The Bible doesn’t tell us we’ll be held accountable for outcomes. We will, however, answer for disobedience and how well we KNOW Him.

IMG_4080We are too busy (like Martha, reprimanded for doing what did indeed need to get done), if we cannot sit listening at the feet of Jesus when it’s appropriate. Mary was commended for doing the better thing in Luke 10:38-42 . When I am too involved, overwhelmed, pressed, etc. for unhurried time in prayer, the Word, and the Presence of God — I am too busy. No excuses. Just repentance.

God and time with Him must be my undisputed priority. With God at #1 all the worthy and wonderful second things can fall into place. If I make ANY second things first, nothing can work well — not even a country song.  God demands the worship that is rightly His (Exodus 20:5).

How’s your prayer life?  Today is the day to make God and prayer our undisputed top priority.

“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)IMG_3650

title credit to Corrie Ten Boon

 

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