The alarm would ring about 6.30 and I would be out of bed by 6.45 (seriously, who doesn’t like to hit the snooze button a time or two…or five). Then it was make coffee, shower, make sure Brayden was fed (typically an Eggo in front of the tv), kiss Christi, and then off to the office. The goal was to get to the church, grab my Bible and another cup of coffee, and head to a remote room in the building to spend time praying and reading the Bible.
Notice I said the goal. See, I was pastoring my first church, fathering our first child, and really figuring things out on the fly the best I could. If I went to the church office 5 days a week, then 4 of those days went like this on arrival: pick up my Bible, start my coffee, and then sit down at the desk because I saw something that I didn’t finish yesterday or last week or last month. That 30 seconds of distraction while waiting for the Keurig would turn into a day of prayerlessness because I got busy doing church stuff. It was the normal grind. A lot of days it would be an 11 am realization that I didn’t make it out of the office, so a rush read of a passage of Scripture and a brief “Lord meet my needs” prayer to cover my bases. I had become too busy to pray.
In March of 2013 I came across this book by Bill Hybels. While I wasn’t a huge fan of Willow Creek, the seeker movement, or some of the other narrative around Hybels, the subtitle caught my attention: “Slowing Down to Be with God.” So, I ordered it on Amazon and started reading. The first page hooked me where I read, “Prayer is an unnatural activity. From birth, we learn the rules of self-reliance as we strain and struggle toward independence and, frankly, prayer flies in the face of all that. It is an assault on human autonomy, an indictment on self-sufficient living. To people like me, who are fond of racing down the fast lane, determined to make it on their own, prayer can seem a really annoying interruption.” That was me.
Through this book, Hybels presses the point that prayer must be the driving passion of our lives in Christ Jesus. He spends time in the sixth chapter outlining the pattern of our prayers. On a few occasions I have recommended just this chapter to a church member or friend who needs a restart on how to pray. One of the things I appreciate most in this chapter is that he is careful not to prescribe a certain way to pray, but does a thorough examination of what prayer should consist of. Maybe you have been dry in your prayer life and want to start fresh, I would recommend you start here!
In the end, one of the greatest paragraphs I have read on prayer in the Christian life comes from this book and it says: “Authentic Christianity is not learning a set of doctrines and then stepping in cadence with people all marching the same way. It is also not simply humanitarian service to the less fortunate. It is a walk – a supernatural walk with a living, dynamic, communicating God. The heart and soul of the Christian life is learning to hear God’s voice and then developing the courage to do what He asks us to do…Embarrassingly few Christians ever reach this level of authenticity because most Christians allow busyness to rule the day. Which, if you ask me, is the unrivaled archenemy of spiritual authenticity.”
Back to 2013…having read this book, I knew I was in for a new order to my day and my life. I had to determine what I would shake in order to keep busyness from ruling the day. I would love to tell you that I have a routine down pat and that I pray every day as I should. I would love to tell you that reading this book gave me such a different outlook on my life in Christ that I have never been the same. I would love to tell you that I get it right. The truth is, I don’t. I fight against busyness all of the time. However, I will also say that I have a stronger appreciation and understanding of why God wants me to pray. It is through prayer that I grow with Him. I want to encourage you to do the same!
You can find this book on Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/y7o43xn3
 Bill Hybels, Too Busy Not to Pray: Slowing Down to Be with God, 3rd ed. (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Books, 2008), 13.
 Hybels, 119.