Like most Americans, I find there are numerous demands for my time. I rise early and often go to bed late and still the list of unfinished tasks grows while I desperately struggle to prioritize the many demands on my time. This struggle to prioritize my days has been a real burden on my heart this past year as I began to realize that life is indeed short and unless I am purposeful with every moment of my day it is unlikely I will ever complete all that I wish to do in my life. Even if I am careful and purposeful with my time, I do not know the number of my days and so I must decide each day and each moment what is most important and prayerfully trust that the Lord will direct my time. I know I am not alone in my struggle as men and women have struggled with the time constrains of a twenty-four hour day for centuries as they try to balance work, relationships, and the general demands of life.
One area to which I feel I fail to commit a sufficient amount of time is in prayer. I set aside some time to pray each morning, but in proportion to other things in my day it is a very small sliver of the pie. I think it is sometimes easy to justify this weakness by thinking I pray continually just because I may offer up a few short lines of inaudible prayer throughout the day as things come to mind, but my heart has been convicted that my prayer life is sadly lacking in fervor.
In the past year as I have read sermons, blogs, and books on various topics I have come across several references to great pastors of the past – men such as Martin Luther, Jonathon Edwards, and several others, and it is often mentioned how much time these great men of God spent in prayer. I have read that Martin Luther spent as much as three hours a day in prayer, and I am reminded of a verse in James:
“….The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16b
Fervent – It means passionately; zealously; with earnest commitment. It also means glowingly hot. I am afraid there are very few times in my life in which I could describe my prayers as fervent or ardently burning with passion and commitment, nor can I claim to set such a priority on prayer as to say that I devote a significant amount of my time to communing with the one to whom I own all.
I know that as Christian believers we all want our lives to glorify God, but I am quite saddened by how little time I spend asking for direction and how much time I spend struggling for balance. Martin Luther felt he had so much to do that he couldn’t help but place a high priority on prayer. I wonder how much we might be able to accomplish – how much brighter our lives might glow – if we put more priority on prayer?