Every Saturday morning, just after our second cup of coffee, Lea and I make a list of what we need to accomplish before sleep overwhelms our tired and spent bodies late Sunday night. The staples are always present: laundry, mow the lawns, grocery shop, and clean the pool. We rarely list the fun things; movie, dinner out or play time with the grand kids, because we don’t want them to feel like a chore. Fun, although well planned, should be spontaneous by design. When we complete an item on the list we check it off with pride. Often on Saturday afternoon we review our list together to assess our progress. If we have done something not on the list and completed the task, we add it to the list so we can check it off. Our system of measuring weekend accomplishments has taken decades to perfect and has managed to successfully keep full blown OCD at bay. We have considered teaching classes on our method, but so far have decided against it. (However, if it ever makes the list we will do it). Our weekend ritual of making and checking boxes for work activities is both functional and enjoyable for us, but I wonder, what else in my life has become a ritual of checking the box?
Each and every morning, before the duties of the day grabs ahold of me, I sit in a quiet place, read a chapter from the Bible and pray. At least that is my intention, and a great majority of days I am successful: my office is quiet, the coffee is hot and my meditation time is meaningful and pure. My morning ritual only takes 20 minutes, (1.4% of a 24 hour day) so it’s not like I am sacrificing so much to start the day by thanking God for everything. Occasionally though my mind wanders to the responsibilities at work or home, or the bills to be paid, or other items on the “To Do” list while I am supposed to be thanking God that I even have a list. Sometimes my prayer is not pure, not even close; it is just another something to do today – and that is sad.
- I think treating prayer as an object to complete is worse than not praying at all.
- I also think devoting only a portion of your heart and mind to God during prayer time is insulting to God.
I know that it takes significant effort to concentrate on just one thing for any period of time; we all have far too many tasks on our mind at any moment; but we can do it because we do it all the time for other events. Playing sports: concentration during a tennis match or on a football field is intense and directed. An important meeting at work demands an engaged mind. A good movie will hold our attention; better yet a good book will completely overpower our thoughts of anything outside of the book.
Don’t let your time with God become just another task to check off the “To Do” list. Be selfish when you are with Him; turn off the world.