Our church held a hymn-sing and ice cream social last Sunday. It was an informal evening service, but we heard testimony of the power of hymns to shape our worship, and to help us remember scripture’s promises. We also had the chance to just “call out” a favorite hymn to sing together. We probably sang 15 or 20 hymns that night, and each one had special meaning to many in the congregation. We treasure certain songs, certain verses, certain stories– they feed our soul, encourage our heart, steel our thoughts, and pour balm on our wounds.
One hymn we didn’t sing the other night, though it is a favorite of many, was “Sweet Hour of Prayer.” Sweet Hour of Prayer– lyrics and much more here In getting ready to post for today, I thought about this hymn. We treasure the thought of prayer being sweet and bringing relief, but do we treasure prayer enough to spend an hour or more at it? If I add up the time spent in morning prayers of devotion, grace at mealtime, evening prayers, and “quick thoughts to heaven” throughout the day, it probably adds up to an hour…but I spend more time writing about prayer each day than I actually spend practicing it. And when was the last time I got so caught up in prayer that I lost track of time and spent over an hour at it in one sitting?
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned that we should not lay up treasures for ourselves on earth, but to store up treasures in heaven, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21 KJV) This is true of our material treasures, but also our spiritual treasures, our thought treasures, and our time. When I hear “Sweet Hour of Prayer,” one of my first thoughts is always, “That would be nice, but I don’t have an hour to spend praying– I’d never get anything done!” But would I have said that about watching my favorite TV show? Spending an hour on Facebook or shopping at my favorite store?
God is beyond time– he’s not counting the hours, minutes or moments we spend with Him. But he feels our absence and our distraction just the same. He isn’t trying to pull us away from important things to waste our time– he wants to pull us away from the things that weigh us down, worry us, haunt us, and eat up the precious time He has given us.
I have found that when I feel “too busy” to spend time with Jesus, it’s a good time to pause and make time for prayer. When I do (and it’s not as often as I should), three things happen:
- I want more! That time refreshes me, calms my spirit, and removes the burden of worries, failures, and frustrations.
- I accomplish more–maybe it’s a case of God re-ordering my other priorities; maybe he just gives me the power to work more efficiently; maybe it’s a miracle–but I find that the “time crunch” I worried about seems to melt away.
- Jesus becomes “more” to me– I grow closer to Him, and closer to the person He created me to be.