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Does the busyness of life sometimes get so overwhelming that it keeps you from spending time with God the way you’d like? We can become so caught up in life and all its responsibilities that we realize the day got away from us and we didn’t carve out time to pray or read the Bible. The day goes by faster than I ever thought possible sometimes!
The enemy wants our busy lives to keep us from spending time with God and placing more importance, albeit inadvertently, on the things of the world. Learn how to beat the enemy at his tactics and experience all God has for you in a regular prayer life.
Spending Time With God – I’ve Missed You
I sat down to pray in the fall after going four days without a real prayer time. Oh I would pause and pray for people as they expressed a need and short prayers like that but I didn’t really have any significant time alone with the Lord. It was four long days of not getting into my prayer closet thanks to, believe it or not, anxiety and guilt.
This afternoon in particular I sat on my bed where I normally pray. At the time, I had a big picture window in my bedroom that overlooked the woods.
I could see all the trees with their leaves changing and no busyness of the world to distract me. It was quiet and peaceful so I would sit on my bed and face that window whenever I prayed. And I did that on that afternoon, well into the day. I usually liked to pray early in the morning but I let work get in the way…again.
I sat down and I exhaled deeply like I was finally allowed to relax and breathe and let go of all the day heaped onto me. And I just cried.
I cried from this overwhelming burst of emotion that just flooded over me, as if God gave me a big hug and said: “I’ve missed you and I am so glad you are here!”
It was one of the most awesome feelings I have ever experienced. It felt like God had been waiting just for me. He wasn’t mad at me for not coming to Him sooner. He didn’t make me feel condemned because the day had gotten away from me. He just loved on me.
It was such a relief because prayer had been my number one priority until the months preceding this and I felt I had failed Him.
Not Spending Time With God – Falling Into The ‘Busy’ Trap
Prior to this I had started a new job working from home, and that changed my daily routine. I thought I could “wing it” but for people with anxiety like me, “winging it” doesn’t work too well. I lost my priorities in this new schedule that really wasn’t scheduled at all! I had not yet learned to manage my schedule effectively.
At times I would look at my to-do list and all the things I needed to do in a given day; the work I needed to do for my “day job”, the work that needed to be done for my ministry, any appointments I had and all the things I needed to do around the house, and I felt like I need to pack them all in and get them done NOW!
People with anxiety REALLY don’t like to-do lists because we feel like we have to check off all those items NOW!
I felt this immense internal pressure that ALL these things need to get done and I had somehow lost the ability to just relax and just sit in God’s presence.
My anxiety caused this “Martha Syndrome” in me that made me run around like a madwoman DOING and all the while Jesus was sitting there waiting for me to just love on Him, be more like Mary and just BE in His presence.
Anxiety can keep us from the things we love the most because even the smallest of lists can be completely overwhelming.
This happened whether I had attempted a set schedule for the day or not. I don’t know about others with anxiety but I am NOT good at keeping to a strict schedule. I still feel the need to check those items off my list so I would end up juggling and multi-tasking, which only led to more stress and more anxiety.
I allowed anxiety to interfere with spending time with God in His presence because anxiety tells us there just isn’t enough time in a day to get it all done so you better get to it ALL! And it is just not true.
I felt like somehow I had less time than other people do when I had been allotted the same 24 hours as everyone else!
It is what anxiety does to us!
Anxiety is Good at Making Lists
If I try to sit and just BE, anxiety interrupts with the dread of tasks left undone. Its loud, shrill voice pierces the quiet of just ‘being’; just spending time with God!
Anxiety says “How dare you just sit there talking to God, don’t you realize you have dishes that are in the sink??? You lazy thing!! You can’t JUST SIT THERE!!”
So I go and take care of the dishes to quiet anxiety’s voice.
Ok, dishes are done. NOW I can surely sit and pray!!!
Then I sit and anxiety says, “Seriously??? Don’t you realize you have three more hours of work that needs to be done for your job??? HOW DARE YOU sit there and pray when you have work to do!!
I set my own hours but anxiety would always nag and say “Don’t you think you should do it now in case something unexpected comes up?? Do you really want to end up not getting that time in???”
So I would go and do some work so that I am at least half done.
Ok, NOW I can pray!!
“NO!!! You have all that training you have to do!! You paid money for that course!!! If you sit and pray now and then do more work it will be time for the dogs to eat and go out and then you have to think about making dinner!”
“Are you crazy??? Oh and don’t forget you have a link up on Wednesday so you have to get a blog post done for that and STILL you have to do your social media posts! Woman have you lost your mind??? You can’t pray with me reminding you of all this STUFF you have on your plate!!!”
Spending Time with God – God Waits For Us
It’s like Cinderella trying to get all her work done so she can go to the ball without realizing the Wicked Stepmother has NO intention of letting her go anyway! Except it’s not a Wicked Stepmother but a very real enemy exploiting our anxiety and its tendencies.
How many times do you get ready for bed and realize you were busy all day but didn’t get half the things done that you should have?
How many times do you realize as you’re getting into bed that you didn’t even pray today?
How often does the enemy jump into your day and use your anxiety to make you feel like spending time alone in God’s presence is irresponsible and selfish?
And yet God waits! He waits for us like the loving Father He is.
The King of the Universe, the Lord of all creation, the Ancient of Days, the Holy One of Israel, waits to talk with you! YOU!
It’s like Cinderella trying to get all her work done so she can go to the ball without realizing the Wicked Stepmother doesn’t plan on letting her go! Except it’s not a Wicked Stepmother but a real enemy exploiting our anxiety! Except it’s not. It’s anxiety.
The enemy wants you to be too busy. He wants you to be too bogged down. He knows your anxiety is a window into your mind that he can use in order to make you feel like taking time out of your day to focus on yourself and focus on God makes you a selfish and lazy person.
So he uses your anxiety to rattle off a long to-do list every time you try to take a few moments out of your day.
He uses guilt, he uses stress, he uses the fact that anxiety makes us feel like we have to get things done or else we cannot focus!
And God Waits…..
The enemy knows God is waiting for you. So he tries his hardest to manipulate you with the tools he has!
That day, I felt God waiting for me. I felt what it was like to sit in His presence and exhale all of life’s burdens and have Him wrap me up in His love and His grace and His mercy.
And it changed me….
That afternoon and that interaction with the Father who had been waiting for me changed me!
Yes I am Martha! All I do I am doing for Him.
My ministry is for Him. Serving at church is for Him. Leading a lifegroup is for Him. But doing FOR him doesn’t replace spending time WITH Him. I need to stop allowing the enemy to use my anxiety to make me ALL Martha with no Mary!
I need to stop allowing the enemy to use my anxiety to make me ALL Martha with no Mary! #proverbs31 #anxiety #perfection
Spending Time With God – Giving God Your First Fruits
So how do you do this? How do you make sure, when we are SO busy we can’t see straight at times, that you are spending time with God in a way that doesn’t feel like an obligation that needs to be met?
One way is by giving God your first fruits of the day!
When we tithe we give Him the first fruits of our income. But we should also give Him the first fruits of our time.
He should not come after we do everything else and then, if we have time left over, we devote time to Him.
So what are some ways we can devote the first fruits of our time to Him?
Wake Up a Little Earlier
It might involve waking up earlier in the morning, before the family is up and the chaos of the morning routine ensues.
Having that quiet time in prayer before you start your day can change your entire day. It sets the tone and helps you give your cares to Him, even before they become cares!
You can spend that time praying for safety and protection for you and your family.
Reading the Word first thing in the morning can also allow you to see what God wants to show you more clearly because, while you may still be waking up, your mind is not worn out from the busy day!
Avoid Social Media and Email
I know! You love checking social media and email while you have your morning coffee! But if it is the only time you can set aside to be alone with the Lord during the day, you may have to find another time to indulge.
God should come first in our lives. Giving him the first fruits means some things have to take a back seat and I can't think of a better place to begin than social media, which can tend to soak up a lot of our time in a day anyway!
Again, if you wake up a little earlier to pray and read the Word, then you'll still have that time to check Facebook or Instagram in the morning.
Ask For Help
If your morning is so busy that you just can't seem to get away alone to pray, ask for help!
See if your spouse can take over some tasks for you in the morning to free up some of your time (as long as it doesn't then cause them to not have time to spend with God themselves!) or, if you don't have a spouse at home to help, maybe a parent or an older child can assist you.
Even having an extra 10 minutes to get alone with God can make a BIG difference in your prayer life.
Spending Time With God – How to Use Your Time With Him
So you’ve carved out more time in the morning (Or in the evening, let’s not get legalistic about WHEN we spend time with Him! While morning is better for many different reasons, it doesn’t mean you can’t spend time with Him at other times if mornings just won’t work!), but now HOW do you spend that time?
Prayer is obviously important but that is not the only way we can spend time with God.
How to Spend Time With God
As I mentioned, prayer is the big one!
But how do we do that?
If prayer is new to you or you don't know quite where to begin, the ACTS Prayer Method is a great place to start! You can check out my post on the method here!
Share with Him your praise! Confess your sins to Him and ask forgiveness! Give Him thanks for all He has done in your life and all your blessings. Then tell Him what your needs are and carry the needs of others to Him in intercession!
Read the Word
Spend time with Him in His Word.
While prayer allows us to speak to God, His Word allows Him to speak to us.
Reading the Word each day gives me such guidance and He always seems to show me something I need just when I need it.
There are some great Bible study methods you can use to go deeper in the Word and you can learn about some at this post!
Journal the Word
Singing has been a way to grow closer to the Lord since Biblical times. King David wrote songs and played instruments as a way to worship the Lord.
Put on some praise and worship music and sing along! What better way to connect with the Lord?
How I Am Spending Time With God
So now, I commit to prayer first thing in the morning. I don’t care how many dishes wait downstairs, I don’t care how many hours of work I need to put in, I don’t care if it means I have to get up an hour earlier to do it!
Fervent prayer is my number one priority again! It will come before anything else. If my to-do list starts getting read off to me by the enemy, I will just open up my Bible and start praying the Word until it shuts out everything else because I know I can’t rely on my own mind to shut out the noise! So I will let God and His Word shut it out for me!!
No phone! No iPad! No anxiety screaming in my ear! Just me, God and the Word in my War Room!
Anytime we have a change in our routine and our schedule, we need to make sure (especially those of us with anxiety) that we first and foremost allot that time for prayer (no matter what time of day it is), because it is just as important for us and our own well being as it is to God.
The weapons of our warfare include the Word of God! The best way to silence the endless chatter is with the Word!
What ways have you found to shut out anxiety and it’s loud, obnoxious voice during prayer? What time of day works best for you to pray and read the Word? How have you carved out regular time for it? Please share in the comments!