Too Busy NOT to Pray
I had a very busy day ahead of me. I had two visits, sermon prep, and the last Pond meeting (Wednesday Night kid’s ministry) of the Spring… oh and my yard still needed mowed. All of this was on top of the phone calls, family obligations, and usual busyness of day-to-day living. Now, I hadn’t been setting an alarm clock because Caleb, my 2 year old had been doing a fine job waking me up at the break of dawn. As his morning song rang out through the baby monitor, the entire day’s demands were cold water thrown onto my sleeping frame. I was up and at it! First to rescue him and change his diaper. Then to grab breakfast. Then to the office. And then on to my visits.
I was at the breakfast table when a quote from Martin Luther came into my mind. I don’t remember where I heard this quote. Come to think of it, I’m not 100% sure that it is a real quote but I’ll Google that later. I recalled someone asking Luther how he was able to pray for two hours each morning as busy as he was. His response was something to the effect of, “Why, I am too busy NOT to pray for two hours!” I was convicted. I hadn’t calculated prayer into my day. God would understand – much of my job is ministry after all! But in my chest I felt the weight of the words, “I am too busy NOT to pray.”
I finished my breakfast, grabbed my prayer journal, Bible, and coffee. I went to the patio for some time with God. Now, I started keeping a prayer journal in 2017 and it is nothing more than prayer requests that are important to my heart. Truth be told, I don’t keep every prayer request someone gives me in this journal. But even so, I have pages and pages of entries dating back to 2017! The entries get highlighted if God answers them in some form or fashion.
I make it my aim to pray through all of the entries that are not highlighted when I open this journal. As I made it to page two that nagging feeling of busyness sounded off. I could just skip through and hit the “high” points, right? I mean, just to pray through 4 year’s worth of requests could take me a very long time and I’m already pushed for time. That’s when it hit me!
Can you imagine how awesome God must be for Him to hear not just my four year’s worth of petitions but every single one of my prayers – spoken and unspoken? Moreover, can you imagine the effort God goes through to hear every prayer of every saint over their entire lives? The prospect of going through 8 pages of requests is daunting to me! The labor! The effort! The nagging feeling that maybe I should be using my time differently!
How humbled I felt, to say the least. I am nothing! I can’t handle my own heart’s concerns and Christ always intercedes and prays for us (Romans 8:34)! I can’t seem to budget enough time to really pour out my heart to God for all the things spinning around in my head. It’s dizzying to try! And God hears it all and not just passively either. He stoops with interest to hear what His children have to say!
1 Peter 3:12 says, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer.” God is attentive. I can “skim” pray through my list but God’s heart is fixed on our requests, cries, and praises!
Prayer is a labor of love. It’s a labor made all-the-more difficult by our fallen, sinful selves. Our flesh tells us there are better things to do – more pressing, more demanding things. But prayer requires effort and sometimes a lot of it (if we are to enjoy walking with God in prayer). But if I remember God’s greater exertion and interest in my prayers; if I remember his labor is impossible for me to replicate, then maybe – just maybe – I can draw from that strength and focus rather than trying to generate it for myself. Maybe I can admit – “I can’t pray like I should today, but I’m so glad you never stop your work for me!”
That is to say, God’s grace and kindness flood our hearts and we find prayer is not the kind of task we put on a checklist. Rather we come to see the effort involved to be more like eating a meal or visiting with a friend. Because God is so good and we are so frail, busy, and (often) crazy we start to feel in our hearts that we’re too busy NOT to pray.