March 18, 2014

Adventist Life

As a teenager I had all the time in the world for the Lord.

I attended a Bible study every Monday morning before school, where I shared God’s Word with my fellow students. I spent time during my lunch hour in prayer, I even kept a prayer journal of the things I talked about with God. I didn’t understand why some people didn’t “have time” for prayer.

Maybe they should make time, I thought. How can people claim to love the Lord and yet be completely uninterested in praying to Him or reading their Bibles? I viewed this as being hypocritical and lazy. But then something happened—I grew older.

A Changing Schedule

When college, then marriage, and later children came along, that “expansive” amount of free time began to decrease. Instead of spending hours each day studying God’s Word, praying, and journaling, I was prepping for finals, planning my wedding, and making sure my son wasn’t eating crayons.

As we grow up and take on more responsibilities, it seems natural that priorities such as spending time with God should remain at the forefront of our minds and agendas. That isn’t always what happens, however. Sometimes job stress, marital anxiety, and the pressure of being a “perfect” parent cause us to lose sight of the most important aspect of our lives—our relationship with God.

In spite of harried lifestyles, though, it’s still possible to get back that beauty, innocence, and joy found in a strong and flourishing relationship with the Lord. It’s possible to make the time—no matter how difficult it may at first seem—to talk with God and read our Bibles, even when we’re tired and “not in the mood.” We can even take time to share Scripture with our children and our spouse. It requires more effort than it did when we were teenagers, of course, but it’s absolutely doable.

When’s the Best Time?

Many Christians recommend early morning as the best time to spend with God. I tried to do that, but I’m just not a morning person. After late-night studying sessions or walking the floor with a colicky, sleepless infant, I wasn’t alert enough early in the morning to achieve a quality meditative and study experience with the Lord. Instead, I began to carve out time periodically throughout the day to devote to Him. I found that I had a little free time when my children were napping, so I began to use that as my “alone time” with God. Rather than lounging in front of the computer or trying to tackle some of the never-ending housework chores, I now use those naptime minutes for God. I started keeping my Bible downstairs by the couch, along with a pen and notepad. That way I can jot down important thoughts or questions that arise while reading my Bible, along with Scripture references, for later review and study.

One of my biggest obstacles, however, was learning to relax about my other obligations. The first few times I sat down to pray, my mind kept racing: I have to schedule a doctor’s appointment or I need to fold the laundry were frequent thoughts. Or I’d open my eyes during prayer and notice a patch of dust on top of a bookshelf and think, I need to dust that—immediately! It took time, patience, and effort to realize that it’s OK to put aside my daily duties for a while in order to make time for something more important—God.

Change is never easy. Learning to grow from a teenager into a self-sufficient adult is a difficult job—as is learning to exchange habitual ways of thinking for something new and fresh. Regardless of how many promises I made to myself that I would find time “tomorrow” or “next week” for God, that “magical” slot of time never came. Instead, I had to make a conscious and strenuous effort to change my habits.

God Will Help You

If you also struggle with busyness and feeling overwhelmed with daily life and duties, rest assured that our Lord is a loving God, and He will help you. He won’t disappoint you. The time you spend with God will never be wasted, even if it means putting off washing dishes, skipping your own naptime, or postponing your shower for a few minutes. Taking time with God is always well worth it!

Don’t get discouraged by the notion that you must spend hours and hours of uninterrupted prayer time. God bless the people who do it. But God also honors your effort to take even a few minutes each day reveling in God’s grace and amazing love. Read a few chapters of your Bible, and write down in a notebook what those verses mean to you. Say a short prayer, thanking God for your blessings and the ways He has answered your prayers.

If you’re not sure how to begin, start small. Return to your desk a few minutes early from your lunch break and take a few quiet minutes for prayer. Or if you arrive early for a doctor’s appointment, spend that extra time in your car whispering a word of thanks for God’s goodness.

You don’t have to have a special “magical” place where you pray. God is always with you wherever you are. So today, take time to thank Him.