Yesterday, I read an article which elaborated on a problem that occupies my mind frequently: the stress level of contemporary life in the USA and the price people pay because of it. People cannot respond to my email or answer my phone call or call me back, because they are so busy. When they do reply or call back, they can’t answer my questions or comment on issues I raise, because they need to vent about the stress in their lives.
I have wondered from time to time if I were misinterpreting the problem, but David Kupelian’s article reports statistics that make it clear I did not make a mistake. Americans are extremely stressed, and most of them do not know what to do about it.
I was extremely interested in Kupelian’s suggestions for dealing with the stress. Here they are:
- Regular exercise
- Healthful food
- Daily time for prayer and reflection
These suggestions are not complicated. It seems as if everyone should be able to do these three things. I am not a specialist in either exercise or nutrition, but I think I know enough to do some physical exercise, and I loved the recommendation not to eat anything my grandmother would not have recognized as food.
The suggestion that really caught my eye was the third one: daily time for prayer and reflection. Do you have time set aside for this purpose? Even friends I thought had long ago adopted this discipline tell me they just don’t have the time, and this is disturbing. Why do so few people make time for prayer? Why do people claim Christ as their Savior, and then never again make any time to talk with him?
Let’s think about it this way. How is it that we say that Christ has rescued us from horrors in this life and the next, and yet, we have no time to talk with him?
So, skipping the judgmental question, let us move on to the real question. What do we do when it seems we have no time for the most important relationship in our lives?
If you doubt that your relationship with Christ is important, think about people for whom it has become everything. In Iran, Pastor Saeed Abedini is the most visible example of people who have been imprisoned for their faith, people who suffer daily torture with the objective of persuading them to recant. For these people, Christ is not an abstraction they conflate with an argument about whether we sing praise songs or ancient hymns in worship. Christ is the center of their lives. Christ is all they cling to. Their food is inadequate. They are beaten or worse every day. When someone persuades their jailors to take them for medical treatment, the doctors and nurses refuse to touch them because Christians are “unclean.” Talk about phobias! Terrorists with what they call holy agendas burn down their homes, slit the throats of their children, and throw bombs into their churches. These Christians, in Iran, Laos, China, and Kazakhstan and other countries around the world, suffer daily. The only way they survive is by being in constant close communion with Christ.
Those who simply struggle to survive twenty-first century multi-tasking and taxes and oppressive work schedules and claim no time for prayer or reflection are fooling themselves. Someone who claims the name of Christ and yet makes no effort to step aside and stop running in place and take just a few minutes to say, “Thank you, Jesus. I am yours,” is missing the one thing that might make a difference in the daily chaos.
There is a simple way to get started. If you don’t have time for prayer, stop where you are right now and simply pray, “Lord, please open my eyes to your gift of time.” Pray that prayer right now. Let go of the stopwatch. Rest your feet on the floor, take a deep breath, and pray the prayer that Martin Luther’s spiritual mentor taught to him. “Jesus, take me. I’m yours.” This is the place to begin. This is the time to begin. You may think you do not have time, but your life, now and hereafter, will be different if you don’t do it.
That is Step One. Step Two is easy, too. Buy a copy of the Daily Texts for $9.95 plus shipping. (I receive no commission on these sales. I just know how grateful you will be if you do this.) You will receive a book with two verses for your prayer and reflection every day. You can do this. Two verses, one prayer, five minutes. Time for prayer and reflection every day. You need this, more than you know. The Christ who saved you from your sins is ready to save your daily life if you let him be part of it.
Why don’t you make time for him every day? Who do you know who is like you, too busy to take any time for prayer and reflection? Do it for yourself, and do it for somebody else. Then please let me know how things work out. I believe you will be grateful that you set this time aside. If you don’t do it, why not?