It’s the story of our lives.
Our To Do list stretches long at the beginning of the day, and at the end, we've never enough crossed off enough to suit us. We’re constantly late because we stop to throw one more load of laundry in the washer, answer one more email, or pick up one more toy littering our path.
We have labor-saving devices to make our lives easier, yet we’re more behind than ever. Crock pots cook our food, washing machines clean our clothes, and dishwashers tackle the mounds of dirty dishes our families generate.
We stay up too late working on projects that would have turned out better if we’d tackled them with fresh minds and rested bodies. We’re the first to awaken and the last to sleep. Our sex life suffers, because tired bodies make for tired loving. We skip lunches with friends, phone conversations with family, and even church because we have “too much to do.”
Yet, the hurrier we go, the behinder we get.
How do we quiet the chaos, catch our breath, and find time for what’s most meaningful? God’s Word clearly says that every day is a gift, and we should be faithful stewards. He calls us to “redeem the time, for the days are evil.” Scripture reminds us that God cares how we spend our most precious commodity. It also provides a model for us to follow to stay balanced and accomplish what is most important.
This example is the Lord Jesus himself.
Jesus never hurried. He was never late. He always accomplished what God intended him to (John 19:28), and he always finished his work (John 19:30).
“Well, I’m sure he did,” you might be tempted to say, “but he was God. If I had supernatural powers, I’d be able to do it all, too.”
It’s important to remember that while Jesus was fully God, he operated under the same laws of time, space, and energy you and I live with. When he came to earth, he set aside the voluntary use of his deity and lived in a body of flesh just like ours. His days were only 24 hours long. He got tired and hungry. The people around him were selfish, unappreciative, and uncooperative, yet he accomplished all the Father had for him to do.
How did he do it?
He began his day with prayer. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35).
Notice that Jesus was up before the household awakened, went to a quiet, solitary place, and spent undistracted and undisturbed time talking with God. Despite a busy day of ministering to an entire town the day before and with another jam packed day stretching before him, Jesus knew spending time with God in prayer was so important that he sacrificed sleep to do it. It was during those early-morning times of reflection and prayer that Jesus got his priorities straight and received his marching orders from the King.
“I always do those things that please the Father,” Jesus said (John 8:29). Isn’t this our goal as well?
Prayer warrior E.M. Bounds agrees. "The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. He who fritters away the early morning, its opportunity and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking God will make poor headway seeking Him the rest of the day. If God is not first in our thoughts and efforts in the morning, He will be in the last place the remainder of the day."
Today I practiced Jesus’ method of time management. I sat down with my Bible and an open notebook. After I had read a portion of Scripture and prayed, I sat quietly with a pad of paper and a pen.
“Lord,” I prayed, “Show me what you would have me do today."
As I mentally walked through my day, I began to list what I thought I needed to accomplish. When my list was complete, I prayed again. “Lord, help me prioritize these tasks.” I skimmed the list and began to number it in order of importance. Not just in my economy, but in God’s.
A funny thing happened. Those things I thought were so important began to take on different significance. When I submitted my agenda to God, I saw my day and tasks with greater clarity and focus. I knew what to say yes to and what to say no to. For once I had a plan that seemed doable, because I knew God’s wisdom and strength was behind it. I had yielded my agenda to his and put him first.
“The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him” (John 18:29).
How about you? Are you overwhelmed and frustrated? Feel like you’re expending great amounts of energy yet never accomplishing enough? I encourage you to follow the example of our beloved Savior and make early-morning prayer time a priority.
1. List what you'd like to accomplish.
2. Surrender your agenda to God. Listen long enough to hear his guidance.
3. Trust God to work in and through you to accomplish what is most important.
“If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day. I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer, " Martin Luther said.
Perhaps we don’t have two or three hours to spend in prayer each morning, but I suspect that spending time with God first will make us more productive in the world and in the kingdom.
How do you tackle the many items on your To Do list without becoming overwhelmed and frazzled? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below and share your ideas.
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