We can all make time for God if we waste a little less. Steve uses the book Beginning to Pray by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom for hints at ways to make time for God.
This week we’re going to talk about making time for God and this is inspired by the fourth chapter of the book Beginning to Pray (Affiliate Link) by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom.
When I was a kid television stations actually went off the air at midnight or one am. Even some of the 12 cable channels we had; went off the air for a few hours each night. But, today I think every station has something on 24 hours a day.
We live in a world that never stops. I think that’s why Time management is a big deal today. We spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year on time management From apps on our phones to the standard paper planner, (I use the bullet journal method) to classes costing thousands of dollars. Time management is a big business. The reality is that we can not make time. We only have what we have and once it is gone we can’t get it back. Instead of managing our time what Metropolitan Anthony asks us to do is waste a little less. He says if we waste a little less, we will always have more and we can use those once wasted pieces to draw closer to God.
He also says, there is no way to grow our inner life in a hurry. Our relationship with God only comes from slowing down and making use of the time we are given. We can’t hurry enough to make more time. This is about taking time out of our busy schedule to be present with God.
Ephesians 5:15-17 says
Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Making the most of my time is where I like to make excuses. I don’t have time, I’m to busy, I’ll do it later. But I watch my wife, who is actually busy and realize I’m just making excuses. She works and takes college classes but makes time every morning for prayer, bible study, and journaling. She helps me see that if I really want a relationship with God, I can make the time.
Think of spending time with God as our food or air. We wouldn’t refuse food or air if it were offered to us after a long absence so neither should we refuse to spend time with God if we honestly want to seek Him. Just like food and air, once we have spent time with God, we won’t want to do without it again.
What can we do to Make Time for God?
Have a Prayer Rule
One of the best ways is the use of a prayer rule. A prayer rule helps us focus and stay on track with our prayers every day. It gives us a guided way to approach God instead of just showing up and trying to figure out what were going to do. It frees us to give in and just be present.
I’ll do a whole episode on developing a prayer rule later but a short prayer rule would include when, where, how long, and what to pray for. In Orthodoxy, we have a set of daily prayers we should start with but the list is absolutely endless with prayer options.
Practice Short Prayers
Another way we can spend more time with God is by carving out short blocks of time during the day. Metropolitan Anthony says we can start with any amount of time we can get and just begin to sit quietly in God’s presence letting go of the “Cares of the world” and just being present with God. Since our minds are so cluttered with work, family, and life in general being silent for five minutes may seem like an hour. So being quiet for a couple of minutes at first is a great accomplishment.
If sitting quietly isn’t your thing then try saying the Jesus prayer. “Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. As you breathe in, say, “Lord Jesus Christ Son of God” and as you breathe out say, “Have mercy on me a sinner.” The Jesus Prayer has been practiced for centuries by everyone from monks to generals and everyone in between.
Other short prayers you can use are, the Lord’s prayer, the prayer of Saint Francis, and the Serenity Prayer,
I have a friend who sets alarms every three hours to remind him to stop and pray. While these may only be short prayers, this forces him to stop and focus on God for just a few minutes even in the busyness of life.
We may not always feel like we are connecting to God. Remember our feelings are not what we base our time with God on. In his book, On the Invocation of the Name of Jesus, (Affiliate Link) Lev Gillet says that we shouldn’t think that just because we don’t FEEL like we have communed with Christ we have wasted our time. Any time spent focusing on Christ is a worthwhile time spent in prayer.
Jesus says in the sermon on the mount to, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” This is one of the core verses of the bible, in my opinion. It reminds us that our first priority should be God. St John Chrysostom says that Jesus came down to show us that we don’t need unnecessary things. If we seek Him first we will have whatever we need. This verse can set the tone for how we can live. And by taking short breaks throughout the day we can begin to focus more on God and less on the world.
Don’t Go Too Fast
We want 20 years of experience in one day. We want to be perfect and try to cram everything we hear into our new practice that we have to start immediately. That’s why we fail at having a truly enriching prayer life. At least that’s why I fail at it. I want to do it all at once. For instance, I downloaded the Insight Timer app in January of 2017 to have a way to track my time praying and meditating. As of April 13th of this year, I had used it 47 times. 900 days and I did 47 days with prayer and meditation. Most of which was last year after I had surgery and was confined to the couch.
There is a lot of talk today outside of Christian circles about being peasant or being in the moment. This is a Christan practice too. Because life is still busy, even when we make a plan to be with God every day we can just go through the motions. When we are truly present everything else fades away and it’s just us and God in that moment. Metropolitan Anthony says that when we have learned to stop fidgeting we can do anything at any speed. We stop worrying about the future and the past and just live in the present. Like when were getting ready to go on vacation. All of our work gets done and our house gets cleaned and we just show up and live.
God wants all of you and me. So I promise this week I will do my best to give Him just a little more of myself and if you will do the same maybe we can bring a little peace to our corners of the world.