I know how busy you are. Sometimes I wished for 8-day weeks or 25 hour days. Everything seems to be crammed into shorter and shorter times. I remember sitting in traffic lines while the stupid woman at the front stalls her engine or fails to see the right filter sign showing. I remember rushing from meeting to meeting, missing meals or snatching a sandwich at my desk. I remember squeezing in three extra patients into my morning clinic. I remember being booked to speak at three venues each 100 miles apart for the same lunch hour. I remember taking a plane from Southampton to Amsterdam, then a car through three countries to give a talk in Heidelburg before being driven to Bremen to catch a flight to Heathrow and then being driven back to Bournemouth, all to speak at a lunchtime meting for which I arrived 40 minutes late. I remember missing picking up my kids from school because a meeting overran and then hunting through classmates telephone numbers in a panic to find who had taken them to whose homes. I remember writing until four in the morning to get a paper finished in time. I remember driving 100 miles to deliver a letter because I had missed the post. I remember falling asleep at my desk.
Sounds familiar? No wonder there is no time to pray! Don't these clergymen realise how busy life is? They have plenty of time to pray - they only work Sundays!
I flinch as I remember myself saying it.
The truth is everybody has a 24 hour day and everyone has a 7 day week. No-one has more time than anyone else. It is a matter of how we prioritize our time.
Everyone has wasted moments. Lying in a bathtub, standing in line at a checkout, waiting in a traffic queue, exercising, riding a bus or a train, lying awake at night; all present opportunities for prayer. Rather than get irritated with impatience take time to thank God that you have a car, that you will be able to afford your supermarket bill, that someone has seen fit to invite you to speak, that your bed is warm and unlike some in the jungles of Congo you have a shelter to keep you dry. As you exercise pray for those who have lost limbs from land mines and can't run. As you soak give thanks for water and remember those who crave clean water.
We fill our minds with all sorts of trash from the television. Rather fill your mind with the goodness of God. If you must watch television, think what the advertisers are paying for 15 seconds of your time. Deny it them! Instead pray foe your pastor, your physician, the patient next to you in the clinic, your parliamentary representative, your neighbour, you husband or wife, your children or even your country's leader. Here is an exercise. On your next journey look out for five things you could turn into prayer. It could be a school, a bar, a church, a small child, or older person; there is no-one and nothing not in need of prayer. If you can't think of anyone else, pray for me.
We make a mistake in thinking we must pray like our pastor or like Liturgy of the Hours or like the Book of Common Prayer; speak to God as you would talk to your sister or brother. He wants to be on intimate terms with you. Give Him your confidence. Nothing is secret from Him anyway.
One thing you can pray for is discipline with your time. Pray for the grace to say no graciously, for protection from the tyranny of the urgent. There is nothing against special aids to help your memory. Muslims hear the call to prayer 5 times a day. Why not set your watch to vibrate every hour and bless it with a ten second prayer?