HOW TO PRAY IF YOU'RE TYPE "A"
Having a “Type A” personality has become synonymous with being perpetually occupied, moving quickly from one task to the next, or prioritizing tasks at the expense of relationships. Type A’s are typically happier when busy, value efficiency, and maximize the use of their time.
I know what I’m talking about. I am one.
For a “Type A” person, there is one task in particular that might seem almost impossible: to sit still long enough to pray. After all, there’s so much to do! Being still can feel about as good as pulling teeth. The biblical command to “rest” can feel more like a punishment than a blessing.
Add to this the relatively new sense of urgency and distractibility that comes from advances in technology. Living at the speed of life is so fast that to disconnect seems to be to miss out, miss your moment, add to the task list, or even offend. I once apologized for missing a call while on a bathroom break, only to realize later how completely unnecessary that should be!
Tech-induced drivenness has already reached epic proportions. A short video at the end of this post describes the impact of technology on millennials at work. For the rest of us, technology, if not controlled, can be a wearying distraction.
What If We Slowed Down?
Can Type A’s or tech-dependent people ever slow down enough to pray? I believe so. While the pervasive use of personal technology may be new, the underlying tendencies that drive us to distraction were well known centuries ago.
Unless our starting point is in God, all our task-oriented, technology-induced busyness is ultimately rooted in one thing: pride. We Type A’s pride ourselves on completing our “to-do” lists each day. We think we're pretty sure what needs to happen - no need to trust God here! We also derive a great sense of accomplishment in finishing, even if we don’t finish well.
In response to this, my husband (who is, of course, a Type “B”!) likes to say, “You can do something quickly with a mediocre result, or you can take your time and use the tools necessary to do it right.”
Prayer is one of the “tools” in our Christian arsenal that enables us to do things the “right” way: God’s way. Without prayer, we operate without real wisdom, lacking stamina and power, and (at worst) consuming our time with unnecessary tasks that bear little fruit for the Kingdom.
When a Type A takes time to pray, what seems like lost time is multiplied into more time. Doing things with God is (surprise!) easier than doing them without Him. We find that miraculously, He somehow inserts Himself into our tasks and our days and leads us down an easier path, one where burdens become lighter, not heavier. (See Matthew 11:28-30.)
Putting God first and listening to His leading makes us more efficient, more fruitful, and more relational than we would have been on our own. For a Type A personality, that’s good news!
A "Type A" Goes Down Deep...
For example, a few weeks ago I was getting ready to work on the inside of our house. The kitchen and front hall both needed to be painted, and waiting for me were the usual daily tasks of laundry, cooking, cleaning, and dishes. I was chomping at the bit and ready to roll, but I deliberately took the time to pray first. To my surprise, the Lord said, “Start in the basement.”
“The basement?” I asked. “That’s not even on my list, Lord!”
“Start downstairs and work your way up,” He said again.
It seemed foolish to me. Why the basement? No one but me ever goes down there, and it certainly didn’t seem as “urgent” a task as the front hallway, which was cluttered with coats and shoes and desperately in need of fresh paint. But He is Lord, not I, so I reluctantly went into our deep dark cellar to begin reorganizing the accumulated “stuff” of life that we toss down there.
While I was there, I noticed something: our water heater was leaking. Badly. A call to the manufacturer confirmed that the unit had already lasted well beyond its expected life span and should be replaced immediately. Groaning, I asked: was there any chance the leak could be fixed? The customer service rep assured me that if I did not replace the unit within a week or so, it would flood our entire basement.
Suddenly, I realized the Lord’s wisdom of starting in the basement. Had I not spent time cleaning and organizing downstairs, I would not have noticed the water heater on its deathbed. And by the end of the day, the basement was sufficiently cleared so that my husband and a dear friend could bring in a new water heater to replace our failing one.
I couldn't help but think that the Lord was speaking through my experience that day. Prayer made all the difference. Had I painted the hallway first, I could have ended up with a flood downstairs. The Lord knew what should be at the top of my to-do list and re-ordered my priorities so that my time was invested in the right place.
My takeaway: when a Type A invests in what is unseen, digging down deep spiritually in prayer, what is seen will be infinitely more fruitful.
Practical Ways for a Type A to Pray
While prayer is a supernatural task, it can still be approached in practical ways that make sense, even to Type A’s. Here are some ideas that might help you prioritize prayer when you’d rather be doing something else.
The Bible makes an interesting statement in 1 Thessalonians 5:17: “Pray without ceasing.” The funny thing is, if you’re a “Type A,” with a little creativity and planning, you might just be the one person most likely to do this!
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.