Monday, June 16, 2008

Busyness - Part 1

Recently, I have been reflecting on the busyness of our lives and how it affects our life of prayer. In the course of research and reflection on this topic, I have come across a survey which demonstrates the impact of busyness on the life of the Christian. The survey, conducted by Dr. Michael Zigarelli, is international in its scope. The results actually surprised me. I was expecting that Christians in the United States would rank the highest in the indices of how much busyness affects our prayer lives. Actually, Christians in six nations other than the United States indicated a higher level of life busyness than American Christians. You can find the article here.

I do not want to be naive about history and assume that people in other eras have not faced their own levels of a high degree of busyness. Here in the United States, I have run across numerous anecdotes about pioneers who spent almost every waking "spare" moment in chopping wood for fuel (In a quick aside, the advice of building consultant Bernie Weisgerber can prove instructive. He was one of the consultants in the Public Broadcasting System reality program "Frontier House”. The show took three families and placed them into a historical recreation which simulated life in a Montana mountain valley in the year 1883. Mr. Weisgerber's counsel to the families which participated was to: “Spend every spare minute gathering winter firewood". This is not unlike the task that many of our ancestors have faced).

Yet, there is a discernible trend in our present-day world culture in which people believe that their lives are busier than they have ever been. The increased use of technology, especially in the workplace, has had the unexpected effect of either making our lives busier or giving us the impression that our lives are busier than they ever have been. One objective measure of this is the increased number of average hours per week worked by Americans which has increased about 10 hours per week over the last several decades.

How does living a life of busyness affect of lives of prayer? Are we too busy for God? Have we as Christians bought into our culture's obession of not just getting more and more but doing more and more? In part 2 of this article, I will examine a parallel which Dr. Zigarelli drew between our busyness and that of the returned Israelite exiles who lived in the time of the building of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. I think you will find the connection very relevant to our lives today.

No comments: