Learning to Pray Like Mary

If you have spent any time here at all, you know I battle busyness way too often. I know I’m not alone, though. I don’t know if I could get even one Momma out there to tell me she just has too much time on her hands! So, when Jim Wolstenholm of Jim the Follower offered to write a guest post for me about just that topic, I knew it was something we needed here in this space!

It just so happens that this week as I was enjoying myself on a Spring Break vacation with my family in Florida, God affirmed the message one more time. Our family went to the Holy Land Experience (if ever in Orlando, you will want to take a day to attend!) One of the reenactments was the story of Martha and Mary. As I watched, I felt the conviction …

Stay focused on the One who matters. 

Welcome, Jim!

Learning to Pray Like Mary | Do the urgent things in life get in the way of the important things in life? Prayer is important. So how do we make time to pray like Mary? #prayer #learningtopray #Godfirst #relationshipwithChrist

Life is full of urgent demands pressing in on us. There are more than enough things that must be done each day! How often do days go by without time to take care of the important things you know need to be done?

Frustration comes when we know that we haven’t done what is important because of what is urgent. We know our relationships have suffered, our emotions have been damaged and our will has withered.

When we haven't done what is important because of what we felt was urgent, frustration mounts. Our relationships suffer, our emotions are damaged, and our will withers #prayer #marthaormary #hope #momentsofhope #linkup Share on X
Is there some way out?

Entertaining guests can be one of those urgent and sometimes important events. It can be a great privilege but also a heavy burden.

Let’s step back in time and imagine for a moment how Mary and Martha must have felt when they found out Jesus was coming to their house. This was going to be a very special event!

The problem was he was coming with an entourage! Jesus didn’t go anywhere without his disciples and a big crowd coming with him.

Poor Martha. Jesus showed up, his disciples showed up and he was still focused on ministry. Yet, dinner had to be prepared. There was food to consider along with drink and the table. This was important work. Martha was busy working but it was too much work to do on her own.

Naturally, she thought of her sister, Mary.

They lived under the same roof and mostly shared the everyday responsibilities. But on this day Mary was not being very helpful. In fact, she had deserted the preparations and was lounging at the feet of Jesus.

Martha’s response to this situation was predictable. She appealed to Jesus to have Mary help her. Jesus’ words to Martha must have been quite frustrating:

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  -Luke 10:41-42

What was truly needed on that day? A clean house? A well-prepared meal? A pleasing table? According to Jesus, none of these. What was needed was a time of sitting at Jesus’ feet in humility and submission. Mary was captivated by his words. They gripped her heart as she listened to him.

What was needed was a time of sitting at Jesus’ feet in humility and submission. Mary was captivated by his words. They gripped her heart as she listened to him #prayer #marthaormary #hope #momentsofhope #linkup Share on X

Many of us tend to live like Martha. Our daily lives and even our spiritual lives are a picture of busyness! We even pray like Martha – rushed and measurable results oriented. But Jesus said we need to make better choices. So how do we choose the better? And what does it look like?

Learning to Pray Like Mary | Do the urgent things in life get in the way of the important things in life? Prayer is important. So how do we make time to pray like Mary? #prayer #learningtopray #Godfirst #relationshipwithChrist

Learning to pray like Mary

If we are going to pray like Mary, we must find a way to get to the feet of Jesus in a quiet place without interruption. Maybe that means 5 a.m. for you! I know one mom who does just that.

Spending time at the feet of Jesus means we shut out the urgent things around us that are far less important. Maybe some of those things that must be done today don’t need to be done at all!

It also means that we will have to change the way we approach prayer.

I use a list to pray from. However, that’s not always good. It helps me remember what to pray for but it doesn’t help me to listen. So, I must place attention on listening time.

I listen for the voice of Jesus in two ways during my prayer time.

First, I listen to him as I read the Bible. I try to imagine Jesus reading the words to me. It can be hard to focus on this and my mind still wanders from time to time but when I put effort into listening I receive fresh insights into the ways of the kingdom of God.

Then, I listen to him as I pray, pausing every time I ask him a question. I have received some very profound direction from him when I do this, although it is not quite as often as I would like.

In order to enjoy time at the feet of Jesus, you must make it the priority of your life. Remember what Jesus said to Martha – only one thing was necessary! It seems a little extreme in our world of activities, obligations and busyness. But, since Jesus said it, we should take it very seriously.

I would truly love to hear how this goes for you, so leave a comment!

Jim Wolstenholm, aka Jim the Follower, is a retired Navy veteran and pastor. He helps people follow Jesus so they can live the abundant life and change their world. You can visit his blog here.

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Featured #MomentsofHope Post

Busyness isn’t the only thing that gets in the way of a Mary kind of prayer life. Along with having a to-do list a mile long, we also are spurred on by instantaneous answers. And not just any answers. We want answers that we contrive. Answers that resemble our vision – our dream – our desires.

When those kinds of answers don’t come our way, we find ourselves losing interest. We lose motivation and find prayer as one more thing on our to-do list.

In today’s #MomentsofHope featured post, Laura Rath from Journey in Faith gets real with us about her own frustrations. But she doesn’t stop there. She digs in and reveals to us why learning to pray is about more than answers.

“I’m tired of praying and seeing no change, but praying enables me to keep hoping. And without hope, what is there?” -Laura Rath

Welcome @LauraJRath as the #MomentsofHope featured writer with Called to Pray #dontgiveup #prayer #hope Share on X

While you are there, please don’t forget to share some #MomentsofHope comment love ♥ And, Laura, please feel free to grab the Happily Featured Here button below!

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Join us for the #MomentsofHope Link-Up! Hope-filled encouragement every THURSDAY! #MomentsofHope #hope #christianencouragement #givemeJesus Share on X

Join us for hope-filled encouragement every Thursday | #MomentsofHope #LinkParty #Hope #EcouragementI just ask 3 things …

  1. Share up to 2 blog post URLs resonating with the topic of HOPEThat which gives us hope for tomorrow and hope for victory. The little things and the big that inspire us to lean into Jesus and let Him carry us through.
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  3. Please either grab the NEW #MomentsofHope button found HERE and in the sidebar, or link back to me. If you’ve been featured, grab your button HERE!
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  1. Blogger Loves The King says:

    Lori even us retired Nana’s are too busy. I was up at 3 this morning working on my office and frustrated by ALL the stuff to do. I could spend all day in my Bible and studies and writing, but the days fly. I’m Mary and Martha both every day and still looking for balance.

    1. Debbie, When we have that do-er type of personality, I think we can fill our days to overflowing no matter the season we are in. I remember being single and living in an apartment. My life was busy then, too. Then it was busy as a homeowner. Then as a wife and mom of babies. Now I have teens and it’s still just as busy! I see my mom at 81 and she still doesn’t have enough hours in the day ♥ It most definitely is a struggle for us all! I’m praying for you, though, as you look for that balance!
      Thanks so much for joining me here ♥ I appreciate you!

  2. Learning to “Be” at the feet of Jesus is v the biggest challenge of all!

    1. Amen! It really is one of the biggest challenges we face!

  3. Lori, thank you for featuring my post this week and sharing it with your readers! I appreciate it. ☺

    1. Laura, It was a wonderful post and my honor to feature! Thank you so much for being such a valuable contributor to #MomentsofHope♥

  4. Busyness does get the best of me. I find spending time with God first thing in the morning is best for me. When I say I will do it later I don’t. I got back into the habit this last week and it has been amazing. It even seems as though my time has multiplied. I am actually crossing things off my list. God first!

    1. I love this testimony to how God seems to multiply our time when we give it to Him first ♥ It is so true! I remember when I was a new passionate follower of Christ. I wanted to dig in and read more. I wanted to learn and grow, but I felt like my time was so swamped, how would I find more? But when I turned that thinking around and gave the time to Him first, all of a sudden it wasn’t even a struggle to manage it all. It was amazing! I am so happy for you that you have committed to this time again!

  5. This business of simply sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to His voice, pouring out our hearts — I think it’s a life long process, not only to DO it, but to value it as the life line that it is!

    1. I agree, Michele. Definitely a life long process. It is one for me that I often describe as 2 steps forward and one step back. I make huge strides and get in a great routine, then life happens or somehow I just find a way to mess it up. Then I get myself back together and make another stride forward. God has us each on a journey toward Him. I’m so thankful He knows and loves me inside and out and is ever so patient with me! Thank you so much for joining me here to share hope! I appreciate you!

  6. I love the points about listening for Jesus when reading the Bible and praying. I must admit, I fall into the category of being too busy to listen some days. Which is so sad when I think about it, because God doesn’t desire me to read His word and pray just so I know I’ve done that “task” for the day. It’s about growing in relationship with Him!

    1. Hi Emily,
      We really are a people of impatience, aren’t we? And it takes A LOT of patience to wait and listen ♥ Thanks so much for joining me here to share hope!

  7. Yes and Amen! Good and timely word, for me personally! I agree that trying to create a quiet space to be with Jesus is so important- and I regularly do- but I might add that sometimes life makes it absolutely impossible! I had one of these moments a few days ago.
    I was desperate to spend time at His feet. I was anxious, and frustrated, and overwhelmed. With tears streaming down my face, and a crabby baby at my side, I complained out loud to Jesus.
    “Do you see me? Do you care? You tell us that only one thing isn’t needed, but I can’t even accomplish THAT. How am I supposed to sit at your feet amidst the chaos?”
    You know what He told me?
    “I’m right here.”
    Jesus is always right here! We just have to turn our face towards Him!
    So, a little encouragement for those who may feel stuck- like me- Jesus is near. Simply speaking His name ushers into His presence, and at His feet.

    Loved this Jim! Thanks for the awesome reminder today!

    1. So true, Rachel! I remember those years when the kids were babies and toddlers. I struggled to find those moments. Now to make you laugh a little … I lead a Mom’s group at that point in my life. We all had littles at home. We all struggled with finding the time with Jesus. (BTW – There was an awesome book called “Calm in My Chaos”.) But one of the things I shared that stuck with the ladies and made us all laugh, was that every time I went to the bathroom, I stopped to pray. 🙂 lol! Now, sometimes there were fingers reaching under my door or someone pounding on it, but I found that because I had to potty several times a day, my 3 minutes each time added up and I began to feel the power of those prayers in my life. It wasn’t an intense time in the Word or studying – but it was time with Jesus.

      Cheering you on, my friend, as you navigate these years. The days are looooooong but the years so short. Jesus will get you through one little step at a time ♥


  8. Thank you for this message straight to my heart, Lori! I needed it!
    Love you!! ❤️

    1. Awwww … I’m so thankful, Leanne! I know you are definitely a do-er, but you have always been my example of resting in the joy and peace of Jesus. Love you back much!!!!

  9. Enjoy your spring break, Lori! And thank you for highlighting Jim and his words today!

    1. Thanks so much, Beth! It was such a great week for our family. It was long overdue for us to take that time away as a unit. We had a few mishaps and challenges along the way, but that couldn’t overshadow the moments of joy!

  10. Hey Jim, I am seriously loving this post! The whole Mary and Martha thing has intrigued me from the first time I read it. I just didn’t get Jesus’ point because there is a practical side to life and His response just didn’t seem practical. You see, I am a Martha at heart. But after years of being confounded by Jesus’ response and praying about it, I finally (recently) realized that Jesus whole point is that time with God always trumps time in service for God (or at least that’s what I think.) By the way, that’s a hard spiritual pill to swallow as well. LOL! And thank you for your pointer to pause in prayer after asking God a question. I’ll add that to my daily practice. I truly enjoyed this, and I think many of us ladies struggle with this, so I’m sharing on FB.

    Welcome Home Ministry

    1. Hi Tiffiney! I agree! Isn’t it interesting to see how women significantly struggle with this issue and that God KNEW? I mean … of course He did, but so many years ago, in times so different from today, God knew this would be one of our great struggles. So much so that He deemed it necessary to place in the Bible! The balance is hard for me. I try to do what needs to be done and let go of the unnecessary. However, before I know it, I’ve lead myself down a trail of focused-to-do-list chores and completely tuned out my spiritual need to be at the feet of Jesus. I’m glad there are so many incredible ladies out there to help hold me accountable and keep me growing ♥
      Much love,

  11. I am reading “having a Mary Heart in a Martha World” right now and have finally begun to come to terms with the whole Mary and Martha thing. Being a “martha” personality always made me come down on the side of Martha since if it wasn’t for her, no one would eat! But I get it now. Jesus didn’t condemn Martha for her personality type. He just helped her see that busyness and anxiety over stuff to do gets in the way of what he wants most which is relationship. thanks for your post.

    1. When I watched the re-enactment of the story last week at the “Holy Land Experience” in Orlando, I really got that as well, Karen! Jesus was so fond of both ladies. He saw their giftings both as needed, but recognized the battle we would all have as women – as humans. We get caught up in our to-do lists – in our busyness and miss what is most important. Thanks so much for joining me here and for always coming alongside me to share hope ♥

    1. I will stop by soon to listen, Kathleen! Thanks so much for sharing!
      Blessings and smiles,

  12. In the last few years I finally started carving out that time to sit with Jesus. You’re right Jim…we don’t always get it right but that’s not the point …He continues to reward our effort even when we don’t… Thanks for sharing!

    1. That grace is such a gift, Neca! I am the absolute worst morning person … ugh! I am quite a night owl, though. Most of my life it has worked for me to make my focused time with Jesus be late at night after all my children were asleep and I knew there would be no interruptions. But, as my children grew and I’ve aged, I’m finding it more difficult. It seems my teens are up so late so often and I don’t get my quiet house. And by the time I do, I’m exhausted and can’t stay up quite as late as I once could! So, I am seeing I need to do this morning thing more and more … More than a simple prayer or a moment of gratitude – but really that focused time. Thanks so much for joining me here, my friend!


  13. Jim, thank you for sharing this message over a much needed and much questioned topic. I’m a Martha and learning to live like Mary has been a hard thing to do! I’m shaing this from my FB page and inside my prayer group. Thank you for breaking down a tough topic in ways that are easy to relate to and understand. Lori, thanks for sharing Jim’s post with us today!

    1. I am right there with you, Leslie! A Martha learning to live like Mary! And, yes, it has been hard! Today, embracing grace in that area is my struggle. There isn’t time for it all so when the scales swing too far one way or the other and I let some things on my Martha list slide, I stress out trying to get caught up and can even find myself feeling inadequate because of it. Although I know it to be a lie, it’s the weak area the enemy aims at. I am so thankful for the distance God has brought me. I know I am definitely not where I want to be, but also not where I once was. We are all on such a journey until that day we meet Christ face-to-face, right?! ♥