As I said last month, fall seems to begin the year for most families, since school starts at that time. It can be easy to become stressed as your calendar fills up with activities, projects, and responsibilities. Many years ago the Lord gave me guidelines to help me navigate through stressful times. I want to share them with you.
I trust that you read my September column and have already begun practicing the first guideline.
Step One—Pray About Every Single Thing
Proverbs 3:5–6 (NLT) says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take." I remind myself of that scripture every day.
At the end of the following poem, author Grace L. Naessens accurately describes what should be our daily routine.
I got up early one morning and rushed right into the day;
I had so much to accomplish, that I didn't have time to pray.
Problems just tumbled about me, and heavier came each task.
"Why doesn't God help me?" I wondered. He answered, "You didn't ask."
I wanted to see joy and beauty, but the day toiled on, gray and bleak; I wondered why God didn't show me; He said, "But you didn't seek."
I tried to come into God's presence; I used all my keys at the lock; God gently and lovingly chided, "My child, you didn't knock."
I woke up early this morning, and paused before entering the day; I had so much to accomplish that I had to take time to pray.
We should always begin our day with prayer. However, ideally, praying should be like breathing. Prayer should flow through our day like oxygen flows through our bodies. Wouldn't it be ridiculous to try to inhale enough air in the morning to last the entire day? It is just as ridiculous to think that our quiet-time prayers when we start the day are all we need for that day. We should practice the presence of Christ though prayer all day long.
You might think, "I don't have 15 seconds to call my own. From the time I get up until I pass out on the pillow at night, my day is consumed by a to-do list." People who pray make time to pray because they know that prayer is their lifeline. Do you realize that you can pray while doing other things? Though we should take time for uninterrupted prayer, we can also pray effectively while performing other tasks. I pray the entire time I am getting ready in the morning.
Prayers do not have to be complicated and long. During the day when I am confronted with a task I don't know how to complete, I simply say to God, "Father, help me. Give me the knowledge to complete this task." That is what I mean by praying continually.
Step Two—Ask the Lord for Wisdom in Making Right Decisions
James 1:5 (NLT) says, "If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking." I could not begin my day without asking for wisdom for that day. If you have the wisdom to make decisions, you can make them quickly. Decisions determine your direction, and your direction determines your destiny. Therefore it is very important to make wise decisions. God's methods are far better than ours.
Step Three—God Never Asks, Expects, or Wants Us to Do It All
God did not call you to be everyone's savior. This was one of the hardest things for me to conquer. I was always trying to do every project single-handedly and respond to everyone's requests. Because those around me knew I was task-oriented, I became the one who headed up every project.
Being a perfectionist, I thought that no one could complete a project as well as I could. I found myself abusing my body and neglecting my family. I had to learn to delegate. Remember, you cannot do everything by yourself. Learn to delegate! Leading a people-pressured life means we have put people and their judgments ahead of God's direction. Learn to be a God-pleaser. As you please Him, people will love, respect, and admire you. And you will once again experience peace, joy, and contentment.
Practice these three steps this month. I will give you the rest of the steps in my next column. Remember, God cares about you, and He wants your life to be successful, fruitful, and stress-free. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!