By Amanda Furbeck
What is the most important thing that you do? If you are a worship leader or a music pastor, you probably wear myriad different hats on any given day, from all things music making, to people shepherding, and probably most of all, administrating. And if you have a tent-maker ministry, you probably have an entirely other set of responsibilities at your ‘day job,’ which are no less important because they provide for your family and put nourishing food on your dining room table. How can you pick just one, all important thing that you do? The answer, my friend, is glaringly obvious, stunningly simple, and unbelievably difficult for the busy church musician to achieve. The most important thing that you will do on a daily basis is spend time with Jesus Christ.
Unless you are deliberate in your walk with the Lord, it probably will never happen consistently or powerfully. Like me, you may find yourself picking up drips and drabs of Scripture here and there throughout the day, perhaps a devotional at a regular staff meeting, a testimony or two on Facebook, and of course, the Sunday morning prayer and Scripture reading. Maybe you realize you are humming tunes straight out of the Psalms, or pleading a desperate prayer for rescue before the anxiety-ridden board meeting. These are not bad things, by any means. But if you want to have a strong and powerful walk with Jesus, they just aren’t enough.
I know that you are busy; you’ve got a family, a church, a career, your small group, Little League and soccer practice, and loads of rehearsals. And there are choirs to help practice, musicians to train, new music to introduce, devotions to share, warm-ups to create, more music to arrange, some CCLI reports to print, and of course, music to file and music to copy. It’s a to do list with no end in sight. We all know that the trap of ministry is that being busy for the Lord grossly interrupts our time of basking in the Lord. But throughout church history, those who would make the most impact for our Lord, those who changed the course of history, or won the most souls for Christ, were those who spent the most time humbly on their knees in prayer.
Take for example, Martin Luther. According to Dr. David Earley, author of Prayer: The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders, Martin Luther was pretty busy himself: “He pastored a church, taught in a seminary, wrote extensively, translated the Bible into German, and in his spare time, sparked the Protestant Reformation!” (And, I might add, wrote a few famous hymns, too.) Martin Luther also spent two hours in prayer every morning. Many other spiritual giants, from King David, to John Wesley, to Charles Spurgeon, were firmly committed to the spiritual discipline of prayer. Just take a moment to imagine, what might the Lord do through you if you spent such quality time with him on a daily basis?
How might your life look different if you truly believed, and acted accordingly, that prayer, coupled with the study of God’s Word, was the most important thing that you could do? How would your relationship with Christ, your ability to function at work, your relationships with the people around you, and your time spent leading worship, and most importantly, your family, be affected by a consistent dedication to real, passionate prayer? What do you suppose would happen in your heart?
Jesus, the very Son of God, didn’t just teach about prayer. He practiced it! If the Savior Himself needed to spend time alone with God in prayer, how much more do we, as sinful, fallen humans, need prayer and Bible reading in our lives? The hard part isn’t necessarily recognizing the importance of prayer and Bible reading for our daily living, but actually living and working as if it is the priority is much more challenging. So what can you do?
Take a college class in spiritual formation. This will help give you the basics of the spiritual disciplines, such as prayer and Bible reading, fasting, or solitude, and help you to apply them to your life.
Make a plan. Make a daily plan that incorporates time with the Lord as if it is your most important appointment of the day. Write it on your to do list, ink it into your Daytimer, or set up a repeating event in your Google Calendar. How will you spend this time alone with God?
Read a book. Study books on spiritual disciplines, how to pray, what the Bible says about prayer, and on the devotional lives of people who were important in church history.
Study God’s Word. What does the Bible say about prayer? Or about worship? Or anything else you find interesting? Pick a reading plan, such as The Bible in 90 Days, to enhance your time with the Lord and give you a jumping off point.
Journal it! Keep track of any insights from Scripture, prayer requests, and answers to prayer. Write it all down as you discover what God is doing in your life and what He is saying to you.
Start today. Don’t put it off another day; God wants to spend time with you!
James 5:16, NIV, reminds us that “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” while Hebrews 11:6 points out that God rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Take a step towards living as if spending time with the Lord through prayer and Bible reading is the most important thing that you do each day. And God will reward you when you earnestly seek Him.
Amanda Furbeck serves as a worship pianist at Bethany United Methodist Church in Pennsylvania. She is also a free-lance writer, piano teacher, and cosmetologist. Amanda has led worship in a variety of settings, including women’s ministry events and as music pastor in previous churches. She has a heart for helping people connect with God through music and is pursuing a Master of Divinity at Liberty Theological Seminary.
 Dave Earley, Prayer: the Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders. (Chattanooga, TN: Living Ink Books., 2008), 19.