As a pastor, I have a luxury of time to pursue a devotional life that other faithful people do not have. I have been known to offer advice that I think is simple and helpful, but that doesn’t account for the reality of most people’s lives. For instance, the simple recommendation “get up 30 minutes earlier to read your bible and pray” seems innocent enough, but what if you already get up at 4 or 5 in the morning? What if you didn’t sleep at all due to caring for a newborn? What if you must jump right into work the moment you wake up? These are specifics of daily life that aren’t accounted for in generic statements and recommendations.
I am blessed to pastor a congregation of people who want to love God well and who also work long and hard hours, have young families and are involved in various other community affairs. How do we keep the First Commandment in first place with all of this going on? I am terrible at building suspense, so let me give you the punchline now, you can discontinue reading if you have a busy day: be mindful of the Spirit and obey the best you can. That’s it. Really it is that simple.
You see, we in Christianity have created elaborate rituals to let us know we are “doing it right.” We are obsessive about being “good Christians” and we have created religious phrases to enforce that belief. For instance, “quiet time” is a human invention that has destroyed the passion of many. It is nearly impossible for a mother with an infant or two to find any quiet whatsoever, let alone enough to concentrate of reading a lengthy passage of Scripture. It is true that many of the people mentioned in the bible went off by themselves to find quiet and solitude, but it is also possible to worship God wholeheartedly by picking up a crying baby, singing while doing the dishes or going for a walk in the sunshine between storms.
Our external circumstances definitely impact our spirits, but they aren’t the deciding factor in our relationship with God. It is quite possible and achievable, by even the busiest person, to cultivate an inner inclination to Heaven. This is known by many names in the Christian tradition, but a monk known only a Brother Lawrence popularized the phrase “the practice of the Presence.” I would simply call it “being mindful of God.”
We can commune with the Holy Spirit in any situation, we just have to remember to do it. There is no concrete formula to get one to remember, we just have to practice it. We don’t beat ourselves up if we forget and go several hours without being mindful of God, and we certainly don’t compare ourselves to others. Believe me, it is possible to pray for an hour totally in the flesh, and it is possible to bring Heaven to its knees with one sighed prayer of “Jesus help me.” Don’t let time or other external trappings disqualify you from pursuing God. Who says it needs to look a certain way? Who says it needs to be “quiet”? Just want Him and talk to Him – He is our Perfect Leader and is infinitely creative. He will show you how to grow closer to Him whatever your circumstance.