What To Do When You're Too Busy to Pray
I am now three weeks into this semester of college, and the pace is starting to speed up. The calm before the storm is passing, and the tidal wave of exams, papers, projects, and the struggle to catch up with readings left till the last minute (and beyond) is beginning to crest the horizon. Besides classes, I am also the Director of Public Relations for a student-led club on campus dedicated to raising awareness for child sex trafficking (an issue I am passionate about fighting), which means that I also have to add to my plate all the duties involved in scheduling speakers and events.
Outside of class, I have a part-time job as a Drive-Thru Leader at Chick-fil-a where I work about 20 hours a week, and have just accepted the responsibility of leading Women’s Fellowship – our initiative to intentionally develop spiritual growth and camaraderie among the ladies at our stores via outings and regular Bible studies.
Then, there’s the small group I’ve promised to begin leading again with a few young women from my church who I’ve had the privilege of teaching and fellowshipping with over the last three years, most of whom are about to graduate from high school.
On top of that, there’s writing, blogging, social media, internal development here at Tirzah, a temporary commitment to help design another young women’s magazine which is due in two weeks, and of course, trying to set aside all of the spontaneous-but-nonessential ideas that continue to strike my brain because I’m a creative and that’s what creative brains do to their owners.
I'm exhausted just looking at all of it.
Chances are, you feel my pain and know exactly what I’m talking about. The details of our responsibilities might be different, but if we could sit down together over coffee and just unload the weight of our responsibilities on each other’s shoulders, I know our burdens would be incredibly similar.
When times start to get crazy and overwhelming – like now – it’s hard to decipher what’s a priority and how exactly to fit everything together in the limited time and mental space we have.
To be honest, I’ve wanted to just throw all of my responsibilities to the wind, disappear into the wild blue yonder, and surf Pinterest for the rest of my life. Because that sounds a lot less stressful.
But, alas, I cannot do that. Neither can you. So what do we do then?
Most of us procrastinate as a way of “coping” and then stress out even more when deadlines start hitting and we are not prepared.
Some of us sacrifice food, sleep or whatever we have to in order to accomplish all of the tasks on our to-do lists, leaving us drained, weary, and irritable because we’re working so hard we don’t have any energy left.
But regardless of your approach, one temptation that will hit us during this time is the temptation to believe that we are too busy for prayer.
“God, You know I’d love to sit and chat for a while, but You also know that my to-do list is a foot wide and a mile long, so I know You’ll understand that I just can’t be still with You right now. There’s too much to do. I’ve got responsibilities to take care of, people depending on me, tasks to complete – I just can’t devote set-aside time to pray ‘cause right now, it’s an unrealistic expectation.”
That was the story of my life for these last few years. He kept knocking on the door of my heart until I finally woke up and realized I have the completely wrong perspective of this whole thing.
When it comes to getting stuff done, we make time for whatever our priorities are.
Now, we have to be mindful of the fact that what we say are our priorities and what actually are our priorities can be two totally different lists. Be honest with yourself as you examine what you say is important to you and what you have actually spent most of your time doing.
For me, I realized that even in my busiest weeks, I’ve justified spending time surfing the web because “I need to do something to relax my mind so I’m refreshed for the next things on my to-do list.” Which is true – if you burn the candle at both ends, you will burn out way too quickly; making time to rest in the midst of busyness is important in keeping up your strength and mental energy to handle all the demands.
But what was wrong with my mindset is that while I was simultaneously justifying moments spent on pinterest, facebook, blogs, etc., I was excusing myself from taking moments to pray.
And you know what? I didn’t even realize that’s what I was doing.
It’s not like I was consciously thinking, Oh, well, I want to surf the web but I don’t want to pray, so I’ll do the former and not the latter. It’s that in any given moment, when I was presented with a choice, my real priorities came to light. I chose the internet over my God, but because each choice was separate from each other, I didn’t make the connection. It wasn’t like I was choosing to surf the web over praying – it was choosing to surf the web, and at other times, choosing not to pray.
But if I could make the time to spend on the internet, how much more time should I have spent praying?
The truth is, while Pinterest and other internet distractions provide a fun, temporary escape, they cannot provide our souls with true rest.
“Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” –Matthew 11:28-32
Nowhere is this more poignantly illustrated than in Luke 10:38-42 when Jesus goes to visit Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Martha, more than happy to be a good hostess, busies herself with all the tasks involved in serving her guests. Mary, on the other hand, went to sit at Jesus’ feet, spending time with Him and listening to His teaching. Scripture says,
“But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’ And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’”
You can almost see Jesus shaking His head with gentle rebuke and compassion for Martha’s misunderstanding of priorities. She thinks she’s being responsible and doing what’s right, but in the end, the only thing that really mattered was spending time with Jesus – it’s the only thing that cannot and will not be taken away from us.
We need to take the same cue in our lives – no matter what all is going on, we need to take time to pray, read His Word, and simply sit at His feet and learn from Him.
In Isaiah 30:15, He says,
“In returning and rest, you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”
Take this to heart, Love.
Whatever we’re balancing on our plates, we must make time to set it all aside, and to go spend time with our Creator. And just as He always has and does, because His heart is generous and kind, He takes the little we bring Him and multiplies it “exceedingly abundantly above all you can ask or think.”
Trust that He will bless you in return, and He will help you accomplish everything you have to do.... better than anything you try to do on your own.
When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased. –C.S. Lewis
Simply put, you’re too busy NOT to pray.
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