Now as they went on their way, he entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her."
I am SO Martha!!! Making me sit down to pray for even five minutes can sometimes be like pulling teeth. I have TOO many things to do. As a wife and mother, there is always something else I can be doing besides stop and pray, but intellectually, I know it is like starving myself. If I don't stop and sit, the whole household suffers.
I understand two kinds of prayer that the Lord calls us to enjoy as mothers. The hardest one for me is "still" prayer. Scripture says, "Be still and know that I am God." If we don't take time out of our day to stop everything and focus on the Lord, we will lose Him. There must be time in our day where we stop everything and focus only on God. Our children can be taught to respect that time, especially when we keep a regular routine about it. In fact, if we neglect our "still" prayer, we can't enjoy "moving" prayer.
To me, "moving" prayer are the events of our day spent with Jesus. He is beside us as we care for our children and wash our dishes. Hopefully, He is here as I move my fingers to type these words for you. It is noble to offer our work for the Lord, so that in all things He is present. Martha was not wrong by doing her work; she was wrong by being distracted and choosing to work without first being still! Our focus, whether we are still or moving should be God.
Mary's better part is that when the Lord needed her undivided attention, she was still and listened to Him. We know the Lord didn't need a grand meal prepared for Him; He made a banquet out of five loaves and three fish. Martha was just trying to be hospitable, to show her love through acts of service, a valid course. Martha's busy work, however, was not directed as prayer. It was neither "still" prayer nor "moving" prayer, and at that moment, Jesus needed her to be "still" and listen to Him first, before being able to turn her work into a prayer.
So, am I Martha, or have I learned Mary's way? Do I put my "still" prayer time first in my day? If it is not practical to do first in the morning, is it at least first in priority? Is the rest of my day spent in "moving" prayer, or do I neglect the opportunity to spend my time of work with God? If Jesus walked into my home today, would He chastise me as He did Martha? What about yesterday?
As women, many times this passage is read, and we become defensive like Martha. "If I sit with Jesus all day, nothing will get done!" True, but I don't believe Jesus asks us to sit with Him all day. I think He asks us to work with Him all day and sit when He is trying to tell us something. It is a rare occasion, but it does happen, where prayer consumes a person so much, that he or she neglects his or her duties in life. Maybe you are one of these people and need to scale back your "still" prayer to serve your family with "moving" prayer. Reflect on these things, but refrain from becoming defensive. Jesus Christ is the best teacher there ever was or ever will be; hear Him.
Lord, please help me to be still, sit at your feet, and listen attentively to your every word, so that I may keep you near to me throughout my day as I offer my work as a moving prayer through service to my family and neighbor.