Busyness is a blessing. God created us to be active. Work keeps us busy. Running a household and managing a family require tremendous energy. The complexities of living in the 21st century can be overwhelming, and we struggle to keep up. Busyness is a given. But busyness can also be a burden.
It isn’t wrong to be busy. But busyness strains relationships, especially when busyness is self-centered and focused on advancing personal interests. Busyness is dangerous when we’re too busy and give less attention to more important things. For example, checking your phone 150 times a day certainly keeps you busy, but is it necessary or important? Busyness is downright deadly when you’re running on an empty spiritual fuel tank. Are you too busy to pray?
Martha kept busy, attending to her responsibilities and putting her spiritual gifts of hospitality and serving to good use (Luke 10:38-42). But she was distracted, worried, anxious, stressed, and frustrated that her sister Mary wasn’t helping. Jesus doesn’t criticize Martha’s busyness. He gently warns that serving without drawing strength and encouragement from the Lord can lead to an empty, even bitter, perspective. The “one thing needful,” time in the Word and with Jesus, is vital. A life with no time to pray is no way to live.
The “P” Word
Jesus prioritized prayer. Jesus was busy, but he made time with the Father a priority. Preaching, teaching, healing, driving out demons, and dealing with Satan dominated his days here on earth. Time with the Father in prayer and study was essential. In Mark chapter 6, in the midst of extreme ministry busyness and personal grief when his cousin John the Baptist had just been killed, Jesus said to his disciples, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (v. 31). A few minutes of naptime in a recliner might have been included but certainly wasn’t the priority. The priority for Jesus was time with the Father, and for the disciples, time with Jesus.
Luke tells us that “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (5:16). He spent time in prayer the night before he chose the 12 disciples (Luke 6:12). He sent his disciples ahead while he remained behind to pray (Matthew 14:23). He taught them—and us—to pray the prayer we call the Lord’s Prayer. He prayed with unparalleled intensity in Gethsemane the night before his death. Jesus was extremely busy, but he found time to pray. So important was his connection to the Father he made prayer a priority.
But Jesus was never too busy to hear the prayers of his disciples either. At no time did Jesus ever say, “I’m sorry. I got so wrapped up in keeping the universe in balance and the planets perfectly aligned and overseeing the spiritual warfare between the angels and demons and working for the spread of the gospel throughout the world that I forgot to bring your requests to the Father. What was it you wanted again?”
We have time to check email, Facebook, Twitter, and smartphones. We have time for this most important privilege of prayer. At no time is there no time to pray. At no time are we too busy to pray. Rather, we realize that we are too busy not to pray, and we cry out, “O Lord, give ear to my prayer.” (Psalm 17:1)
Enough of the “B” word. Lord, hear my prayer.
Pastor Stephen Luchterhand