Sometimes, the day just seems too short. So many of my days end with me listing all the things I had intended to get done that day and just didn’t have time for. Worst of all, there is that nagging discomfort of suspecting that I did not prioritise the tasks well. Perhaps I spent too much time on unimportant things and neglected the truly important? Days at the end of which I do not feel particularly close to God are the worst. It feels like a day wasted. If only I could split into three people for a few hours every day! Then I could send Me-A out to do half my tasks, and get Me-B to sit down and do the other half, and send Me-C (‘C’ for Christian, of course!) away to have some lovely spiritual time with God. At the end of this period of time, I would reunite all the Me’s again and sleep a happy man!
But perhaps division is not the answer. Perhaps division’s opposite, integration, is. We cannot (so far as I know) split ourselves into three functioning selves, but something we do every day is split our one self into disconnected parts. In the one physical body there may be many “Me’s”. There is the Me I am when I am working: disciplined, focused on the task, engrossed in my subject matter to the exclusion of all else. There is the Me when I am relaxing: a happy-go-lucky anything goes kind of fellow, cheery and friendly. And there is the Me who prays and reads the Bible respectfully and dutifully, secretly proud of my piety but occasionally distraught at the things my other Me’s get up to.
If this is starting to sound a little Freudian, that’s because it is. Freud (whose ideas were highly popular, then highly unpopular, and are now making something of a comeback) saw much of our psychological problems as arising out of a falling apart of the different aspects of personality. For him, it was the id, ego and superego. We need not go that far, but we can affirm the Biblical principle that a “house divided against itself will not stand” (Matthew 12:25). I will extrapolate and say that a person divided within can never feel peace.
There is no need for this artificial division. There is no need for being different people in different situations. Why separate your prayer life from your work life? Do you not pray for your work? Why not pray while you work? Is God not present in your office? Or do you choose to ignore His very real presence just because there are others there, or because you have work to do? Why not involve Him in your work? Why not look for Him in every person you deal with, especially the really unlovable ones (which is where He is easiest to find, surprisingly enough).
Like a man who wears the same glasses when reading, playing golf and fixing a watch – all we do ideally should be through the lens of the presence of God.
“I do not have time to pray”. No, actually, you have 24 hours a day. Prayer at its heart is simply a connection with God, a sense of the presence of God with us. We can communicate with Him through thoughts, words and actions. From His perspective, all we think, say and do are constantly present before Him. We cannot hide from Him, even if we try. But why try? Why not enjoy Him? Why not bask in His company, find solace in Him in times of distress and joy in Him in times of sorrow? He is to us, strength, hope, comfort, security, peace, endurance, confidence.
In acknowledging His presence consciously we find the reality of our own selves. When we see ourselves mirrored in His eyes, we cannot avoid admitting our frailty and nakedness before Him. But those same eyes shine with love that absorbs all our sins and replaces them with a purity of heart we cannot understand nor ever adequately thank Him for.
So: Work can be prayer. Play can be prayer. Relationships can be prayer. There is not one moment of the day that cannot be shared with Him.
Integration leads, when perfected, to integrity. Integrity is a wholeness, a lack of division. We spend our lives locked in a deadly struggle between good and evil playing itself out in our hearts. But where there is God, evil cannot dwell. So if I keep the presence of God in my heart constantly, wherever I may be, there remains only one power in my heart and no longer two. It is only when I lose sight of Him that the struggle returns and the heart is again divided. It is only then that I can sin.