Take Back Your Time

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7

The Christian monastic movement is marked by a sacred approach to time and the balance of rhythms like prayer and work. St Benedict famously said, "He who labors as he prays lifts his heart to God with his hands.” In our All Saints series, Pastor Jon explores four ways to take back your time, allowing God to invade every hour of your day in contrast to the hustle of this world.

St Benedict founded monasteries on the belief that God can enter into every moment of the day and penned the Rule of St Benedict which was a guide for how monks lived together. This includes praying the hours, eight daily services where the monks gathered to pray and focus on God. The Rule outlines a rhythm of prayer, scripture and labor for the sake of being transformed to be more like Christ. Like the early monastics, taking back our time will require:

A Mind Set on Christ

  • Intentional prayer and work allows us to fix our minds on Christ—a slow, subtle, deep, transformative work.
  • Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
  • What is your mind fixed on?
  • Our minds are constantly bombarded by information and it’s easy to fixate on problems or anxieties.
  • Romans 8:5 says, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.”
  • If your mind is set on death, you will reap death.
  • It is not by our own strength or willpower alone that we focus our minds on Christ, but we are filled with his strength to renew our thinking.

A Godly Vision of Work and Innovation

  • Monasticism was the birthplace of universities, the alphabet, glasses, the fork, the hourglass, accounting and many wines, beers and cheeses.
  • The monasteries were not stale, boring places but rather a home of innovation, a place that cultivated color and joy.
  • “Monasteries sanctify time, as if to show that all time belongs to God and our use of time finds meaning only if we do our tasks, both religious and secular, to honor and serve God.” Gerald Sittser
  • If you view work as a curse, then God will have no opportunity to make it holy.
  • Your work is not just a place to evangelize but where you bring glory to God as you till the ground of the world.

A New Rhythm of Prayer and Retreat

  • Anxiety diminishes in prayer. It counteracts the real pressures of daily life. 
  • Is prayer your first response or a last resort?
  • Philippians 4:6-7 tells us that God’s peace will guard our mind, which is accessed in our prayer.
  • For most people, prayer is not what drives their day, but we need to be a people driven and shaped by prayer.
  • Practicing a daily prayer rhythm could look like this:
  • 7:30am Adoration & Equipping
  • 12:00pm Refocus & Attention
  • 6:00pm Gratitude & Contemplation

Removing a Mindset of Two-Tier Christianity

  • In the monasteries, the head abbot shared the same schedule as his brothers. They shared in common labor.
  • Imagine your CEO or boss joining you in doing your least favorite part of your job. This was how the monasteries functioned.
  • There is no arrival or no “better than thou” in Christianity. We all work together in seeing God’s kingdom come alive in our city.
  • There is no “them” and “you” distinction. In humility, every life is worship, every moment an opportunity to surrender.

Manhattan Dinner Party Questions

  • Is prayer your go-to or your last resort? Why?
  • Have you started or practiced praying the hours? What changes when you pray consistently?
  • How does seeing the daily work of Christianity as “common labor” shift your view of your own role in the Kingdom? What tasks or work is God sanctifying in your life?

Brooklyn Dinner Party Questions

  • Take an honest look at your calendar or schedule. Are you always busy? Is there margin to create new rhythms?
  • Choose one of the five areas Pastor Ryan reviewed—Relationship with God, Personal Life/Health, Relationships, Church and Work—and write out a sample daily, weekly and monthly schedule.
  • How can you incorporate more rest, silence and solitude into your rhythms? 

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