For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling.
If you’re anything like me, you tend to become sidetracked from prayer, on a regular basis, by the “stuff” of life. Work, family, friends in need, and even church obligations pull at us constantly, demanding our immediate attention. It isn’t always easy to pray.
The real power to live life victoriously is found in our consistency. Consistent efforts in any area – professional, religious or otherwise – yield success. We cannot expect to reap a harvest where we have not sown! In fact, it is this law – the law of sowing and reaping – that the Lord says will endure forever. (Genesis 8:22.) Like the law of gravity, its application is timeless, its results guaranteed.
Why, then, do we so easily fail to be disciplined in our prayer lives, when we know that consistency will produce a great harvest for us?
Our reluctance is rooted in a wrong belief: that Jesus is a detour, not the highway.
"I Just Don't Have Time to Pray!"
Think about it. You wake up on Monday morning. You spent yesterday at church, so you are feeling renewed, refreshed, and ready to tackle the week ahead. The pastor’s inspiring sermon is still ringing in your head, and you have plans – big plans – to make an impact for Jesus in your home or workplace. “Change is possible,” you think, “I just need to do what I’ve heard preached all these years.”
Full of ideas and plans for the week ahead, you decide you don’t really need to take the time to sit and pray today. God is with you, you think, and you need to make use of as much of your free time as you can before you get to work. Sitting down for an hour to pray would derail you, slow you down. You don’t have time for “detours” right now.
So you launch into your list of tasks and get a head start on the day’s events. You plow energetically through Monday, and then Tuesday, and by “hump day” you realize something is off. YOU are off. Off track, that is! In your excitement to “get things done,” you neglected to really listen for the Lord or focus on His Word. Sure, you played some worship music in your car on the way to and from work, but now you’re feeling drained, tired, maybe even overwhelmed because your list is still as long as it was on Monday, but your energy is coming up short.
"I Think God is Mad At Me..."
At this point, the enemy sees an opportunity. He quietly suggests to you that you have really missed it. “Three days without God!” He chastens. “Tsk, tsk! God must be mad at you.” Suddenly, you feel guilty. You’re not much of a Christian, are you? Why can’t you just maintain a regular quiet time, like everybody else?!
The truth is, everybody else struggles with this, too, because we all share a common enemy. We all live in the same busy world. And invariably, we all reach the same conclusion: being with Jesus feels more like a detour in our life than a highway.
How Do I Change Direction?
I have felt the same way. As I’ve shared in previous posts, I am a strong “type A” personality. I LOVE to-do lists, because I love the feeling of accomplishment I get when I finish them! To put it simply, I am already consistent and disciplined in my life – but not always in the right areas.
To change direction, I have had to renew my thinking to see things God’s way. People, not tasks, are the priority. Love is the standard of measurement for believers: not whether we finished our lists, evangelized the masses, or raised successful children. It is relationships that are key: with Jesus, first, then with the people around us. Thankfully, I’ve learned to apply the same discipline I have in my “workaholic” personality to maintaining a consistent time of prayer.
It has not been easy. Relationships, with all their messiness, can feel like detours.
Jesus confronted me about this one day. He said, “I am the highway, not the detour!” I saw, in that instant, that I placed a lower value on knowing God than I should. The apostle Paul said his greatest desire was to “know Him [Jesus], and the power of His resurrection…” (Philippians 3:10) Sadly, I could not say at that time that this was true for me.
Many of us feel pressured to hurry through life. We are programmed to avoid detours, or what we perceive as such. Our GPS warns us when something on our route will slow us down. Caller ID notifies us in advance of calls we’d rather avoid. Often life's “detours” look a lot like people: relationships. We feel that anything that stands in our way prevents us from reaching our destiny. Or does it?
When Paul was kept under house arrest for two years, was it a detour, or destiny? God used people who opposed Paul to multiply His Word in Rome. In fact, Paul’s boldness while imprisoned empowered many other believers to preach boldly, too.
When Jesus was crucified, was He being prevented from doing His ministry or propelled into the most magnificent ministry of all: the resurrection?
When the believers in the early church (Acts 4) took the time to pray after being threatened by the authorities, were they taking time away from ministry or contributing to it?
The Bible tells us that after these believers prayed, revival broke out. The building was shaken, everyone was filled with the Holy Spirit, and with “great power” and renewed boldness believers testified about the resurrection of Jesus!
Take the Highway!
The time we take to develop our relationship with Jesus is not a detour. It’s a highway. Sowing to the Spirit reaps rewards we cannot manufacture in our own strength. Our minds are renewed. Our energy is restored. Our time is multiplied. And our tasks become easier. After all, look at the community in Acts 4. Is it easier to pray for people one by one to receive the Holy Spirit, or for God to show up and fill everyone at once?! My vote is for the latter!
As you change your mindset to see your relationship with God and His people as a priority, you will see Him change your circumstances so that what needs to happen, happens more effectively. For a “Type A” person like me, there is nothing as exciting as that! I love that when I take care of God’s business, He takes care of mine! We are partners, and partners talk. Partners plan – together. Partners listen to each other, share ideas, and shape and refine their plans into something much greater than what one could do alone.
My prayer for you today is that you will make a fresh decision to spend consistent quality time with your Lord. Put it on your calendar first. Nothing else compares. In fact, as Jesus told Martha, nothing else really matters! Over time, your diligent sowing will yield a harvest. Your thoughts will become enemy-proof. Your efforts will be more effective. Because when you pray, symbolically giving Jesus your meager loaves of bread, He blesses them, and multiplies them in ways that no mere man can reproduce.
© Deborah Perkins /www.HisInscriptions.com
Free Link to the Subscriber Resource Library when you join His Inscriptions!
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.