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Mary Heart, Martha Brain

How can I focus on one thing—prayer—when so many things need to be done?

I used to picture myself as Mary, sitting in my living room and listening to my guest's heart-aches while Martha mashed potatoes in the kitchen. I always choose Mary's stillness over Martha's work, I thought.

I was wrong.

I left home early one Sunday morning to prepare my heart for worship and preaching. I entered the empty sanctuary, sat in the quiet, and tried to focus on Christ. The minutes ticked by and I remembered I hadn't plugged in the coffeepot.

That can wait, I told myself, and I directed my thoughts back to Jesus.

Another minute passed. Then I wondered, Are the transparencies for the overhead projector ready? And what about the banner—did anyone remember to change it? And someone really ought to plug in that coffeepot.

Reality struck. I was Martha—concerned about many things, and not about the one thing that was truly needed.

I had written a book on spiritual disciplines and was serving as the prayer editor of my denomination's magazine, but after my Sunday morning frenzy, ...

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