A Royal “Waste” of Time

Tonight I remembered a book by Marva J. Dawn that I read about four years ago called “A Royal ‘Waste’ of Time: The Splendor of Worshipping God and Being Church for the World”. It was a very thoughtful book on worship, and one of the things I liked most about it was the tongue-in-cheek title. Worship is when we use up or “waste” our time and our very selves on the Royalty of the universe.

I think I’m drawn to this description of worship because it points out my biggest personal struggle with prayer. As I mentioned in “What’s Up with Fasting”, I tend to be very task focused, and prayer doesn’t often feel like a very productive thing to do. That’s what I like so much about describing worship as a “royal ‘waste’ of time” – it’s a great reminder that worship and prayer isn’t about being productive from a human standpoint. It’s about relating to God and showing Him my love. It’s about “wasting” our time on Him.

Of course we do this all the time with people we love, but sometimes we forget that it should be the same way with God. I sit on my couch with my wife, and we talk about things and read books out loud together. I ask her questions and listen to her opinion of things. We take walks together and enjoy meals together. It’s all great fun, but it’s certainly not productive, and it should be the same way with God.

So for those of you who join me each week in “wasting” our time setting up and taking down the West Campus stuff, and for those of you who “waste” your time on gathering together to read the Word and sing songs to God… keep up the good work! It’s what we were made for!

3 thoughts on “A Royal “Waste” of Time

  1. I find myself willing to stay up late and finish a good book, but too tired to read my Bible before I go to bed. We do waste time on things that mean something to us — it’s a process of making God and our time with him mean SO much that wasting time with and on him is SO much more important that anything else. Thanks for the good reminder.

  2. I have found that if I start my morning “wasting” time with God, I have a much better day. For me, it has always been easier to get up a little earlier to read God’s Word, write down my prayer requests, and pray, than trying to stay up a little later. I do pray in the evening, but not the intense study I do in the mornings. I love the old saying “A Day Hemmed in Prayer, Seldom Unravels.”

  3. This morning, Rhonda, who also works here in the church office, forwarded me an email with a quote from Henri Nouwen:

    “Every morning at 6:45 I go to the small convent of the Carmelite Sisters for an hour of prayer and meditation. I say ‘every morning,’ but there are exceptions. Fatigue, busyness, and preoccupations often serve as arguments for not going. Yet without this one-hour-a-day for God, my life loses its coherency and I start experiencing my days as a series of random incidents and accidents.

    “My hour in the Carmelite chapel is more important than I can fully know myself. It is not an hour of deep prayer, nor a time in which I experience a special closeness to God; it is not a period of serious attentiveness to the divine mysteries. I wish it were! On the contrary, it is full of distractions, inner restlessness, sleepiness, confusion, and boredom. It seldom, if ever, pleases my senses. But the simple fact of being one hour in the presence of the Lord and of showing him all that I feel, think, sense, and experience, without trying to hide anything, must please him. Somehow, somewhere, I know that he loves me, even though I do not feel that love as I can feel a human embrace, even though I do not hear a voice as I hear human words of consolation, even though I do not see a smile as I can see a human face.

    “Still the Lord speaks to me, looks at me, and embraces me there, where I am still unable to notice it. The only way I become aware of his presence is in that remarkable desire to return to that quiet chapel and be there without any real satisfaction. Yes, I notice, maybe only retrospectively, that my days and weeks are different days and weeks when they are held together by these regular ‘useless’ times. God is greater than my senses, greater than my thoughts, greater than my heart. I do believe that he touches me in places that are unknown even to myself. I seldom can point directly to those places; but when I feel this inner pull to return again to that hidden hour of prayer, I realize that something is happening that is so deep that it becomes like the riverbed through which the waters can safely flow and find their way to the open sea” (“Friday, December 11,” from Gracias! A Latin American Journal [HarperCollins, 1983]).

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