I was on a Christian retreat not too long ago with a bunch of great people. I really appreciate retreats, at least most of those I’ve attended. It’s a great time to meet new folks, think and pray about important decisions, and come away refreshed and ready to go. This retreat was no different.
While I was there, I met an interesting person and enjoyed a few conversations with him. One evening as we were discussing growth in the Christian life, he lamented the fact that he had not seen much transformation in his life over the last few years. I probed a little deeper.
It wasn’t that he stopped going to church or serving on committees. It wasn’t that he no longer loved his wife or family. On the contrary; they meant everything to him. After much discussion, it became apparent that there was an elephant standing on his spiritual air hose; in the busy-ness of life, he had invested very little time with His Lord in private, the two of them alone in Scripture and prayer. We both agreed that this problem was endemic in the Christian world – believers long on activity, short on prayer.
We are busy people. No doubt. Some busy-ness, for certain reasons and seasons, I understand. But, as a regular course of life, it’s a disaster waiting to happen. The wheels will come off. It’s matter of “when”, not “if”! Even worse, we are trading that which is eternal for that which is temporal; we are trading down!
There is a better way! It’s the way of the Spirit, of love, joy and real transformation (Gal 5:16-24). It’s the way of Christ-centered contentment (Phil 4:11-13), seeking God above all things (Matt 6:33). Trust God. Walk with Him in His way. Allow Him to show you what it means to buy up life’s opportunities for serving Him (Eph 5:15-16) and to understand what His will is (Eph 5:17). A heart and life like this stem from only one source – the Master! He is the One summoning us to His side; He is the One who set us an example (cf. Mark 1:35-39).
Carving out time to be fully present with God is the one thing the Devil cannot allow. Expect distractions, problems, and diversions; you will not be disappointed! Remember those words of Paul: “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph 6:12).
But, despite the Devil’s attempts to dissuade us, we know that God has called us into fellowship with His Son (1 Cor 1:9) and that there are awesome treasures to be found in His presence.
So, let us “sell everything,” as it were, and be found on our knees in the company of the Great King; He is our treasure! The Father is seeking those who will worship Him in this way (John 4.23-24)!
So, let us jealously set aside undistracted, quality time to be with Him, in His word and prayer. Here we can freely confess sin, cast all our anxieties on Him, receive guidance and strength, and learn to praise Him with all our hearts. Paul said, “I consider all things as rubbish compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…” (Phil 3:7-12). There may be more to the Christian life than focused time with God and prayer – and indeed there is – but there is nothing less than this and nothing of any real consequence happens without this. May this be the one thing we do well (Phil 3:13)!