I read a book back in the day called Can You Not Tarry One Hour by Larry Lea. He shares how you can fill one hour with prayer. The problem was that I focused on filling the hour rather than connecting with God.
This is not a guilt you out post to get you to spend more time in prayer but a post that I have to deal with on a daily basis. Before we can enjoy our relationship with God we have to deal with the excuses we make that keep us from it, and trust me, I have used them all and then some.
I’m too busy
Yes, we’re all busy. We have message to craft, programs to plan, meeting to attend etc. etc etc. The only problem is that all those things lift us up and make us the center of attention. If we are busy we are blessed. If we work hard we are patted on the back, so we do what give us our strokes. The problem is we’re spiritually bankrupt and fried. We have to choose between speeding up or slowing down.
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
Martha wanted to speed everyone up to accomplish some task. Mary wanted to slow it all down and Jesus sided with Mary. If we’re too busy to sit at the feet of Jesus then we are forfeiting the very thing we need that makes the work we do worth while. This excuse is futile.
I don’t feel like it
Sometimes I get a little upset with God. My wife would ask me if I had prayed about a certain situation and I would remark, “God and I are not currently on speaking terms.” You know who came out on the short end of that stick, right?
Being directed by our feelings in following God is a terrible idea. If we allow feelings of bitterness, forgiveness, jealousy and resentment to reign in our hearts the only direction our feelings can take us is away from God.
I tell my students that
If you don’t feel like worshiping God, worship until you do.
If you don’t feel like reading your Bible, read it until you do fee like it.
I have had to take my own medicine many times. Are negative feelings creating the excuse you’ve made? Clear them out and pray until you feel like praying and sing until you feel like singing. God will come.
It’s been a while
There used to be an invisible line in my mind that once I crossed it it made it hard to cross back over. I have gone weeks without any serious sit down tome with God and the longer I went the further away the line seemed to get back to.
Guilt and shame are powerful feelings that demotivate us from even approaching God. look at at Adam, he sinned, he hid, he blamed others. Nothing much has changed since that day.
We have a job and we do it. We feel like whether God is part of our daily lives or not we can still do our job of programming, going to meetings, etc. all without having had time alone with God. This is true. We can do that, even as Pastors, but should we? Craig Groeschel talks about being a Christian Atheist. We bear the name but we live as God does not exist. The danger of living that way is it can become a lifestyle.
If you like, like me, have been a prodigal Pastor, stop, know this, that God is waiting for you even if it’s been a while.
I get bored
Not gonna lie, I have fallen asleep praying and reading the Bible. I was bored. Reading and praying had become a grind rather than a joy and we all tend to stay away from stuff that bores us or that feels like work.
What if you could release your mind from the typical quiet time model and could explore new ways to love Him? I recently did a video encouraging youth workers to do just this. Check it out and see if any of those work for you.
I don’t know where to start.
Been there. Sometimes the Bible overwhelms me. I know where certain passages are and how to study so I can preach but sometimes I don’t know where to start to feed my own soul.
There’s the Bible as a blue print that we read to offer kids the info but it has stopped being life giving to us. When this happens to me I start simple. I head to Psalms and proverbs or I read through a gospel to get back to the story of Jesus. I have to detox from reading for work and read for me.
Sometimes I book a guest to speak so I can take a week off to focus on my own life and get healthy so I can reconnect with the God of my story.
We all have excuses and we all have to fight them. Fight on and you’ll win the battle for your soul.