Have you ever been on mulitask overload? Sometimes I get so bogged down with so many different projects on my to-do list that I sort of freak out and go into stress paralysis mode.
Can you relate?
Last night was one of those nights. I took most of December off writing to hang out with my family, update my website (what do you think?) and catch up on all those small things that just pile up and up and up. I was going to jump right back into fiction mode with the New Year, but January 1 saw me stalling.
As did January 2.
And third …
So last night was going to be it. The night I finally got back into my fiction projects. The problem was I had so many things to finish up before then I felt like it would take me a whole other week before I was ready to jump into my next novel.
I’d recently come across a story about Martin Luther. Apparently, on his busiest days he’d make sure to set aside no less than three hours in prayer. He said his day was so busy it was the only way he could ensure that everything got done that needed to get done.
I don’t need to tell you how backward that sounds! But he went on to explain that through prayer, God granted him the mental efficiency and wisdom to organize his day in such a way that taking three hours out of his schedule to pray actually saved him time in the end.
I’d never tried anything like this before, but as I was going somewhat berserk over my massive to-do list, God brought his story to mind. I had an hour-and-a-half period while my husband was leading youth group and the kids were occupied, so I decided to give that time to the Lord in prayer instead of diving right into my work, crazy as it sounded.
You know what? It did save me time.
First of all, praying before I jumped into my to-do list helped me organize my priorities. In fact, as I began to pray, I realized that one of my most time-consuming projects I would have started that night could happily sit on the back burner for weeks without any ill effects.
Secondly, spending that time in prayer gave me better ideas on how to get my tasks accomplished. Two of the projects, again biggies and again both things I would have wanted to start that night, were things that I realized I could hire my son to do. (He works for me doing some of my computer tasks because he’s so good at them. It saves me time and earns him a little money in exchange.)
Thirdly, prayer gave me peace that got me over my stress paralysis. I know myself. I know how I get when I’m too overwhelmed. If I hadn’t spent that time in prayer, I would have been more likely to waste an hour on Facebook looking for stress relief than I would have been to actually accomplish anything.
If you would have told me, “Alana, you should spend an hour and a half in prayer when you’re at your busiest and most frazzled,” I would have said first of all, “I don’t have time for that.” And then I would have argued, “Besides, even if I did have time, I wouldn’t know what to pray for that long.”
Thankfully, my time with God felt natural and unforced. Basically, I had my journal (along with my massive to-do list) and I began my time by praying over each project that needed to get done. I was able to see right away what projects to cross of my list and what projects to delegate.
I’m not saying that entire ninety minutes was spent with 110% mental and spiritual focus, either. My mind wandered. I daydreamed. If I were giving advice to someone else trying what I did, it’d be to deal gently with yourself. Most of us aren’t used to devoting that big of a chunk of time to prayer. It’s natural that we’ll face challenges.
But if your to-do list is as long and complicated as mine, or if your body’s about to hide inside a stress-induced cocoon, maybe it’s God’s way of inviting you to take a time-out to focus on your relationship with him. There’s no magic formula. There’s no specific amount of time that will do the trick.
But it’s a good reminder for us that there’s no such thing as being too busy to pray.
Are you someone who often struggles to find time to pray? The 30 Days of Prayer for the Unsaved sequence is a great resource. For the next 30 days, you can receive a daily email in your inbox reminding you to pray for your unsaved friends and giving you specific ideas of what to pray each day.