“Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain…” [Psalm 39:6]
The biggest frustration that I encounter again and again as a religious instructor is the inability to make a genuine impact for Christ because of the life of busyness, hurry, and overload which most people have adopted.
Christians all over the world are simply too busy for God. Spending their days rushing from one task to the next, they have erroneously allowed their busyness to get in the way of developing a relationship with God. The accelerated pace and activity level of the modern day has distracted them from the One who created them for Himself and completely separated them from the joyful and victorious life that He desires for them.
Because Christians have assimilated to a culture of busyness, hurry, and overload, God has become marginalized in their lives, and this has led to a deteriorating relationship with Him. As their relationship with God deteriorates, they become even more vulnerable to adopting secular priorities and ideas about how to live, and this in turn causes them to conform even more to the standards of the unbelieving world.
It’s time to re-order our priorities and the way we think about who God is and how He wants us to live. In this world, men value us for what we do, but God values us for who we are. Our Heavenly Father wants us to spend time with Him in prayer. It’s as simple as that. You were not created for the things of this world; you were created for Him.
Many who call themselves Christians are not following the example of Jesus Christ, whom they profess to be their Lord. In the Bible, we read as follows: “In the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there He prayed.” [Mk 1:35] Jesus drew away from the rush and bustle of life in order to reconnect with His Father because His priorities were right. He didn’t allow the busyness of life to distract Him from His relationship with His Father, and neither should we.
Whether we want to accept this truth or not, we’re as close to God as we want to be. If we’re too busy to spend time reading God’s Word and cultivating an intimate prayer life with Him, that’s because this is the path we’ve chosen for ourselves; no one forced us to walk it.
In 1868, Saint John Bosco received a prophetic vision of hell. According to the Lord, people who end up in hell are there because, instead of giving themselves over to prayer, where they could have received grace, power, and strength to overcome both sin and the world, they chose to give themselves over to earthly things instead. In Hell, Saint John Bosco heard the words, “Woe to those who neglect prayer! He who does not pray dooms himself to Hell!”
It is not possible to live as God wants us to live apart from a life of prayer. People who spend all of their waking hours working, whether at the office or at home, yet set apart no time to sit with God, talk with God, and listen to God, are endangering their own souls. They are attempting to live the Christian life in the power of their own feeble strength instead of spending time with God in order to receive His strength.
It is up to you to make time for God. If you spend 8 to 10 hours at work each day, and then come home and spend the rest of your waking hours mowing the lawn, cleaning the pool, washing clothes, and performing other household tasks, while completely neglecting time with God in prayer, you have fallen into Satan’s trap. Your attitude should not be, “when I get my work done, then I will pray.” Your attitude should be, “First, I will pray. Then, whatever time is left I will devote to my household tasks.”
People get offended at messages like this because it exposes the way they live and the priorities they have adopted in their lives. They want God on their terms, not on His terms. They want the things of this world, with a little bit of God on the Sunday morning side, and when someone comes along and exposes the wrong priorities in their lives, they take offense, when they would do better to repent.
You may say, “I go to daily Mass,” but is this all that is required? When we come together to pray at Mass, we are praying as a community. There is communal prayer and there is individual prayer. Both are necessary in our lives. Jesus prayed in the synagogue with the Jewish community, but He also spent time individually with His Father each and every single day.
We all would do well to closely examine our lives to see if we are truly living the God-centered lives we were created by Him to live. Your personal relationship with God comes first, not your job, not your household tasks, and not even your ministries in the church. God didn’t create you so that you could give yourself completely over to the busyness of a world that is temporary and will one day pass away. He created you for a personal relationship with Himself.
When you die, you’ll be buried six feet under and your job will go to someone else. The yard work, housework, and hobbies that you put before time spent with God will not go into the ground with you. The friends who got more of your time than your Creator did will eventually forget you and move on with their lives. The only thing that will live forever is your soul and your relationship with the One who created your soul for Himself.
Brothers and sisters, let us stop making excuses when it comes to our negligence in prayer and our refusal to center our lives on a personal relationship with God. Let us remember the words that Saint John Bosco heard when Our Lord took Him to the portals of Hell to see the wretched, eternal end of those poor souls whose priorities and values in life were distorted and completely out of order.
“Woe to those who neglect prayer!
He who does not pray dooms himself to Hell!”
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