2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God… (Ex 20:2-5a)
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. (Mt. 22:36-38)
Multitasking is the ability to do several things at the same time. Multitasking is something a computer is very good at. Your computer can do an internet search, check for new emails, balance your checkbook, and spell check your Wednesday night devotions all at the same time.
Several years ago there was a university study to determine how well humans were able to multitask. It was discovered that, at least at the conscious level, we are not able to multitask at all. The study found that, when you attempt to do 2 things at the same time, the brain switches back and forth between the 2 activities, but at no time do you actually perform both activities at the same time.
The study also found that, in general, women were better at juggling multiple tasks than men. I won’t speak for other men, but this observation is certainly true for me. My wife sometimes tries to talk to me when I am focused on something else. I have become quite good at nodding or grunting in all the right places, but 5 minutes after she leaves, I won’t remember a single thing she said. It is a matter of focus. When my attention is divided, I am not at my best.
Our lives are busy. We try to juggle our work, our social, our spouse’s, and our kids’ calendars. Sometimes it seems that the only way to get everything done is to multitask. Unfortunately, when we split our attention between 2 tasks, both tasks suffer. Take driving and talking on the cell phone as an example.
I confess that often times I don’t give God my full attention. I pray while I am driving or doing the vacuuming or in a boring meeting. It would be considered rude if I treated my friends this way. I would never dream of inviting a friend over for a cup of coffee and then do the vacuuming while they were there. Yet, I routinely do this to God. There is nothing wrong with praying while we are doing something else since we are told to “pray unceasingly”, but this form of multitasking should never substitute for a separate, focused time with God. As in all things, Christ shows us the way…when life gets busy, He retreats to the garden, the wilderness, the mountains to spend focused time in prayer.