I once heard it said: “I have so much to do that if I didn’t spend at least three hours a day in prayer I would never get it all done.”
This quote is attributed to Martin Luther and although it may not actually be one of his writings I believe it gets across a very interesting and important point.
Throughout the years and even more so since I started my full time job a month ago, it has been said to me that I can’t spend lots of time with God because life will just get in the way. I went through a season where God was really wooing me. It was all exciting and new as I was discovering more of God’s love for me and enjoying being in His presence as He came so intimately close. This was the season where God started showing me what intimacy with Him looked like. I was spending every moment I could getting close to Him. I was infatuated with Him and would do anything – I was spending whole evenings worshipping, listening to podcasts back to back, reading books, gathering with friends to be in God’s presence together. I had more time then as I was working for the church and had many opportunities to pursue God more deeply than before.
I then went from that season into a new season.. one of extreme busyness. This season I was travelling up to Bedford for the Training for Supernatural Ministry course and although I got amazing time with God on that course and saw incredible things, life outside of the course was hectic. The only job I managed to get was a minimum wage retail position that had the alarm going off each morning at 5.30am. I was working Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, travelling to Bedford Thursday,coming home Friday, working Saturday and then almost every Sunday serving at Church in the evening. To say I was shattered and exhausted after a year of this is an understatement. But in the process of this I started losing my time with God. I would get the occasional evening where the house was empty and I could worship. But quite often I didn’t have the space to spend time with God how I wanted or I was falling asleep. With being so tired I lost the motivation to do almost anything but sit and watch a film.
I can tell you very honestly that my relationship with God started to struggle. I loved God more than ever but life was tough. There were an awful lot of battles I was facing and decisions I needed to make.
More recently as I finished that season of my life I have tried to get back to where I was before, tried to get back to that initial season where I spent as much time as I could find in God’s presence but it’s been tough. I know that you can’t spend everyday listening to podcasts back to back but I was a long way off from that, struggling to listen to even one a week.
Along the way I’ve had people tell me that the way I was living before is unsustainable and that life gets in the way. You get busy and you just can’t afford time spent in that way.
Being completely honest I fought against these comments knowing that God has put a call on my life to not just be intimate with God but to bring others into that same intimacy that I have experienced. But as time went on and I got busier and more tired I spent less time with God. But I have also seen a correlation with the amount I struggle. The less time I spend with God the more I struggle.
The quote I first mentioned, “I have so much to do that if I didn’t spend at least three hours a day in prayer I would never get it all done”, was one I heard several years ago but has always stuck with me.
It makes you realise that what may seem logical in the world is not logical in the Kingdom. When you have more to do it doesn’t mean that intimacy with God goes out the window. Instead there is a recognition that all strength and power comes from God and so we hold firmly onto Him even more than we did before. If we have an extra packed day then we need extra time in God’s presence to do all that he has called us to do that day.
Heidi Baker is one of my heroes. If you haven’t heard of her then you need to look her up. She is a best selling author of ‘Compelled By Love’ and has demonstrated a lifestyle of being a laid down lover of God. She has gotten down and dirty with some of the poorest and neediest people. She has lived in poverty as she followed the leading of Holy Spirit, but in trusting God and following Him she has seen incredible fruit in her ministry. She has seen the deaf hear, blind see, dead raised to life, countless creative miracles, over 10,000 churches planted in over 20 nations.
Heidi has done so much over the years, and yet her priority remains that of spending time in intimacy with God.
In her latest book called ‘Birthing the Miraculous’ she says that:
“It is intimacy that gives us the grace and strength we need to push through suffering, pain and inconvenience…… Fruit always follows intimacy, and God is calling us to exponential fruitfulness. He is calling us to be a people who are absolutely enthralled by the beauty of Jesus – married to Him, in love with Him, desperate for Him, wooed by Him, set apart for Him, given wholly to Him, and laid down for Him in every area of our lives.”
“I don’t know how to run the race without the wooing. Without romance I cannot be a minister. I have tried before – I just cannot do it. I do not even want to. But when I am in love, I will run eighteen hours a day. I will run after Him with everything inside of me, and I will be at rest, even as I am running.”
I have listened to a lot of Heidi’s preaching and read her books and know that she has demonstrated a lifestyle of resting in God’s presence. She prioritises that time with God and will most days get around 4 hours of time alone with God. I know that at this point you can really shut off and say well that just isn’t possible with having to be at work by 9 and when you get home you have to cook dinner and do all the other jobs on our list just to keep going. But when you say this you can very easily go the opposite way and not take on any of the understanding behind her having 4 hours with God each day. The message behind it is that we are utterly dependent on God for everything we do and spending time with God is never wasted!
In fact, Heidi said that she encouraged students who came to join her ministry to protect that time of intimacy with God, but so many would be caught up with the things that needed doing such as looking after the hundreds of children in their children’s centre and ministering to people. She spoke of how she would witness those who didn’t take the advice and because of the lack of intimacy with God they got tired and burned out and left Mozambique earlier than planned.
When we may feel that we are too busy or that life is just getting in the way, we need to take a step back and remember what is really important. I know God calls us to be hard workers, I know we go through different seasons of busyness. Some of us may be called into high end business, or into academics. Some of us may be called into full time motherhood or looking after the ones and the twos. But no matter what it is…. does God ever call us to live a life outside of intimacy with Him?
He knows that everything we need is in Him. He invites us to draw deep into Him. He invites us to go against logic. He calls us into His upside down kingdom where as you spend more time with Him you will find yourself being ever more productive and fruitful in the less time that you have. At the end of time, what will matter?
Sometimes I have to take a step back and imagine eternity. When you picture eternity with God, He is the only thing that matters so likewise in this world He is the only thing that matters.
I’ll finish with another of Heidi’s quotes:
“When you’re called to do things that you can’t do, you’ll need things that you don’t have. …. You don’t need to have it in your hands, you just need to hold the hands of the one who has it in His“