Life naturally tends to get busier as time goes on. There is so much to DO. Leading a life, a family, a ministry or whatever, tends towards a preoccupation with tasks. Like Martha, we can be so busy serving God that we don't take time to love God and just sit at his feet like Mary did, listening to his word (see Luke 10:38-42).
If only we could learn that the best productivity always flows out of a depth of geunine spirituality. As we are continually connected to Jesus, he will flow his life through us and help us to be truly fruitful (John 15).
Here are a few challenging thoughts about prayer from Henri Nouwen …
"In a society that seems to be filled with urgencies and emergencies, prayer appears to be an unnatural form of behavior. Without fully realizing it, we have accepted the idea that 'doing things' is more important than prayer and have come to think of prayer as something for times when there is nothing urgent to do … Left to our own impulses, we will always want to do something else before we pray …"
"Prayer requires that we stand in God's presence with open hands, naked and vulnerable, proclaiming to ourselves and to others that without God we can do nothing … (unfortunately) we have turned prayer into a last resort to be used only when all our own resources are depleted."
"Discipline means that something very specific and concrete needs to be done to create a context in which a life of uninterrupted prayer can develop. Unceasing prayer requires the discipline of prayer exercises. Those who do not set aide a certain place and time each day to do nothing else but pray can never expect their unceasing thought to become unceasing prayer."
"We simply need quiet time in the presence of God. Although we want to make all of our time, time for God, we will never succeed if we do not reserve a minute, an hour, a morning … or whatever period of time for God and God alone. This asks for much discipline and risk-taking because we always seem, to have something more urgent to do and 'just sitting there' and 'doing nothing' often disturbs us more than it helps. But there is no way around this. Being useless and silent in the presence of our God belongs to the core of all prayer."
"Silent time makes as quiet and deepens our awareness of ourselves and God."
"Prayer must be our first concern."
[From The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life, p.92-95]