When someone says, “I’m too busy to pray every day,” it’s not a reflection of their schedule, it’s a reflection of God’s spot on their schedule. God has been canceled.
The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. — Psalm 14:2
There’s something about American culture that keeps us busy. We are on the run morning to night. After all, there is virtue in work. We want to be good stewards of our time, feel a sense of accomplishment, and provide for those we love the most. When we barely get to have free time, we either do nothing at all, or are lured into activities of little significance.
The American Time Use Survey released on June 25, 2020, indicates that on an average day, 95% of people aged 15 and over engage in some sort of leisure. Watching TV is the activity that occupies the most time, accounting for an average of 2.8 hours per day. The level of distraction is so severe that we hardly take the time to seek God.
Psalm 14 laments the death of God in the hearts of men. They foolishly declare, “there is no God,” and with Him out of the picture, they live their lives as practical atheists (v. 1a). Excluding God from their daily affairs is a decision that exhausts the significance of their lives and leads to moral degradation. As a result, “there is no one doing good” (v. 1b); without God, even good deeds pave the way to destruction.
In our verse, the Psalmist describes the divine search for any among the unbelieving world who might turn their lives back to God. The Hebrew text reads, “The Lord from heaven bows down to see…” The God of the universe has not given up on His people. He keeps on searching. What are they doing? Are there any who understand, any who seek Him? The God who seeks wants to be sought, and His searching reveals His love. But the search comes up empty. No one understands and seeks after Him; not even one (v. 3).
The problem with American Christianity is that we rarely find time for God. We are nothing like the fools of Psalm 14, who blatantly deny God. On the contrary, we are for God: we subscribe to the right creeds, attend the right churches, and socialize with the right people. Lovingly and reverently, we participate in the sacraments of the church and honor the Christian holidays. But as we pat ourselves on the back, enjoying misguided entitlement, our daily schedules tell our true story. If prayer time is not featured, say 7:00 - 8:00 a.m., “there is no God” on our calendars, and we live our lives like practical atheists. How we spend our days, what we do with this and that hour is, of course, how we spend our lives. How we spend our lives is a reflection of who we are.
Psalm 14 calls us to be people “who understand” and “seek after God.” To understand and seek is to invoke God's presence through daily prayer and study of His word with due diligence. It begins by working God into our schedules and moves toward working our lives around God.
God of heaven and earth, we search for You because You searched for us and found us first. We love You because You loved us first. We choose to live for You because our life is not ours, but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loves us and gave Himself for us.
Beniamin Pascut, Ph.D.
Ministry Fellow at Brown University
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