Taking the Time
In the 10th chapter of Luke's gospel (verses 48-52), we find Lazarus’ sister, Martha, working as hard as she can to prepare for the crowds that are sure to be coming, because Jesus is there. He was drawing crowds by the many thousands, according to multiple citations in the gospels. And why not? The man could raise the dead, for heaven’s sake!
So when Martha notices that her sister, Mary, instead of helping her with preparations, has settled down to be with Jesus, “listening to what Jesus had to say to her,” Martha asks Jesus to please get Mary to help with all the work that has to be done. And that seems like an understandable request, doesn’t it? It would just be plain courtesy.
But Jesus, who knows what’s of great value and what’s of far less value, tells Martha, “There is only one thing necessary, and Mary has found it.” And so he says to her, in effect, “No, Martha, I won’t take this most gifted time away from her.”
He says that knowing full well about the coming crowds. He understands Martha’s feelings and knows there’s a lot to be done. But he also knows that there’s “only one thing necessary,” and that "Mary had found it." Mary, who was choosing to be focused on Jesus’ personal company, to be speaking with Him and listening to Him even if it meant letting the rest of the “important stuff” go, would not be asked to pull back from the gift that she was being given in that moment. Not for the sake of the crowds. Not for Martha. Not for anything.
That’s what prayer is all about, including “couple prayer.”
There are obviously a lot of things shouting for your attention as a husband and wife. But there’s just one thing that's “the only thing necessary” according to the Word of God. And that is, being consciously and purposefully tuned into the presence of God-with-you. To be visiting with God. To be thinking about God and speaking to God and "listening to what Jesus has to say to you" in prayer.
So when you sense the Holy Spirit urging you to be joined in prayer for a few minutes with your spouse (or individually, certainly) and yet you hear another “voice” insisting that instead of moving into a prayer-time, it’s really time to “get things done,” you may want to consider that there are 96 fifteen-minute segments in every 24-hour day God gives you. Can you really not give God’s personal company even one of those 96 fifteen-minute segments because there are “more necessary" things to do?
There are 144 10-minute segments in every day. What about letting just one of those 144 be dedicated to “the only thing necessary?”
And there are 288 5-minute segments. How about, on every day that it's physically possible, giving God just one 5-minute block of your time -- one out of 288 -- to share together in a prayerful intimacy what is, in fact, "the only thing necessary"?