Building a Foundation of Prayer for the Mundane

Your apron is smeared with cookie dough and coffee stains and chicken gravy. You wipe the sweat from your brow and leave a streak of flour across your forehead. You close the oven with your right foot while scraping cookies off the cookie sheet onto a rack to cool. You smack the faucet with your left elbow before the sink runs over, hustle the cookies out to your guests, and notice that the coffee pots are empty. There's another fork on the floor. That's the 3rd one Thomas has dropped. You grab the fork and rush back into the kitchen to wash some before you are complete out. Oh yes, make more coffee. Kids come running in the kitchen, screaming that the toilet is overflowing. Someone thought it would be a hoot to try to flush a pair of socks. And where is your little sister? Just where you thought... sitting on her butt, listening to the stories.


You've had it. You are serving and caring for everyone's needs. All you want is a little help. You heard it in church: "See a need, fill a need! Serve faithfully with a thankful heart!" That's all well and good until you are overwhelmed or worn out. What about that “carry each other’s burdens stuff?”

Well, I could use a little help here…just a little.

 You know the story from Luke 10: 38Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. 40But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

 Too often we measure our worth based on our hectic schedules and increased productivity with a goal to always exceed expectations.

The accolades, atta-boys and promotions go to the overachievers. We all work harder and usually not for glory. There is just so much to do. In our average daily lives, we are pulled in 100 directions. We have 3 categories in our lives: 1) things I MUST do, 2) things I SHOULD do, and 3) things I WANT to do. I must get the laundry out of the washer before it dries on its own into a crusty, moldy ring of cloth that will need a hammer and chisel to remove from the machine. I should exercise and prepare a healthy meal instead of takeout again. But I want to sneak away to a quiet secluded cabin in the woods and never return…. Our fast-paced life leaves little room to breathe before heading to the next deadline or catastrophe. We get easily distracted and worry about so many things.


We have noble intentions – provide for family, serve the Kingdom well. Work is good – we were created for it. It feels good to do a job well, there is satisfaction and pride in accomplishment. And really the issue is not work but worry and distraction. There is a lot going on in this story but what I want to consider that single phrase: “but one thing is necessary.” Jesus doesn’t say that Mary is right, and Martha is wrong. He doesn’t say serving is good, but this is better. He says that what Mary is doing is the only thing necessary. What is necessary? Out of the hundreds of things we must do or should do or want to do, what is the one, the only necessary thing?

 Sometimes in the hustle and bustle we just forget Jesus. We are too busy, too tired, too entertained, too overwhelmed. We have so much to do, so much responsibility, so many demands on us that it becomes difficult to squeeze a little “quiet time” into our schedule. It’s hard to make Jesus fit into our already over stimulated and over indulged and over crammed lives. Jesus himself was busy. But never distracted or worried or overwhelmed. What if all the stuff we MUST do or SHOULD do or WANT to do could fall into order if we just first took care of that one thing needed?

 So, what is the “one necessary thing?” Notice how Jesus says it. Mary has chosen the “good portion”, and it is not just a nice add on, it is necessary. It is absolutely vital. It is something that Mary Martha and all of us cannot do without. We must have it to survive and thrive. We must do this one thing to put all else in perspective. We must take time to have communion with Jesus, fellowship with your Lord. It is vital that we set aside time to talk with him, listen to him, be in his presence. This is not a few minutes mumbling prayers as we drift off to sleep. This is more than a five-minute devotional in the morning.

 We live, work, play and minister in a world at war. I’m convinced that as we serve the King, we need to build a foundation of prayer and communion with Jesus first (and return to it regularly). This is the one necessary thing we must do to advance the Kingdom before we set our hand to serving. In this prayer time we will find that we are given the strength and wisdom we need to serve well. We may even find that the Holy Spirit has a different plan than we do and while I may want to serve on the worship team, as I listen to my Lord, He may direct me elsewhere.

 As leaders, we recruit, train and schedule folks to help us with prayer or worship, or hospitality. But do we lift them up in prayer? Do we pray over our duties – do I pray over my guitar playing as well as practice the songs? Do I pray for protection and openness of those on the prayer team as well as schedule them? The one, the only necessary thing – the thing that will drive all else – the thing that will put all else into perspective – the thing that will direct and empower everything else, is to spend time with Jesus, connect with him. Feed on the Word, wait on the Holy Spirit in prayer, listen to Jesus as he loves on us, tell the Father what is on our hearts and minds. Nothing can take that away from us…except us.

This is our foundation, we have to ruthlessly pursue, guard and sustain time with God.

 He has all we need…all that is necessary can be found in Him - comfort, wisdom, peace, love, worth, joy, victory, forgiveness, truth, patience. Name what you need – Jesus has it for you.  What we need, what is necessary for life – listening to Jesus. Listen, believe, accept his word, delight in it. Do you believe that Jesus and only Jesus has the words of life? Can you slow down, drop all else, and submit to his teaching, his caring, his discipline? This also implies discipleship on our part. We must cultivate and maintain a desire to be a learner and a practitioner of the Way of Jesus. We have to push aside all the good, urgent things that attempt to crowd in on us. We must ignore the impulse to be Martha and force ourselves to be Mary. Ultimate, this will lead us to fruitful service – service that will be a desire and a delight, not a duty of drudgery. What we learn from him, we will eagerly put into practice. We will love as we have been loved.

 We need a foundation of prayer in our lives.

We need his Words of life. Only Jesus can help us keep our lives in balance. Only Jesus can help us to grow in grace. Only Jesus can provide us with clear guidance. Only Jesus can help us to overcome ourselves. Only Jesus can lead us into being more like him. The end of all things is this: we want to be like Jesus and we want to be useful to his kingdom. The one thing necessary for that: communion with our Lord. Prioritize this: spend time with Jesus regularly and often. This will inform and empower all else in our lives.