Americans as a whole devote considerable amounts of time to leisure activities.
- We will happily devote a couple of hours to watching an interesting movie.
- We will sit through an entire NFL game on television, which averages 3 hours 12 minutes of airtime, with over 100 commercials and only 11 minutes of actual play.
- NASCAR races take 3-5 hours.
- Some prefer to run, walk, jog, bike, kayak, etc. regularly for extended periods of time.
There is nothing inherently wrong with watching a movie, a game, a race, or going for a run. In fact, having times of rest, relaxation, and refreshment is vital for our mental and physical health. But it may be beneficial to consider our use of time on such activities in comparison to our devotion to spiritual disciplines.
- In Luke 6:12, Jesus spent all night in prayer.
- In Mark 14:32-42, at the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus expressed concern that His closest friends could not devote even one hour to watching and praying for Him without falling asleep.
- In Luke 6, the apostles sought out willing servants to help with the churches work, so that they could devote more time to the Word and prayer.
- David often remarked in the Psalms that he meditated on God’s Word day and night. He often lay on his bed during the watches of the night, treasuring God’s commands.
Of course, praying long prayers or devoting countless hours to study is not some formulaic way to earn God’s favor. We should not “babble on” in lengthy prayers in he hope that we will “be heard for our many words” as those who are mentioned in Matthew 6:7.
But it might surprise us how little time we actually devote to the Lord, if we were to time it. Why not give it a try? Perhaps see how it feels to spend half an hour in prayer a few nights this week.
The goal is not to achieve a higher spiritual status by enduring monotonous disciplines. This is simply a reminder for us all that our use of time can be an indicator of our hearts deepest desires.