The to do list

When I was in full time work I could not have done my job without various forms of task lists and time management strategies. 

Now I am retired I don't often make a to do list, except those tasks that I put in the diary. Those are only the 'have to be done'. I have so many other ideas in the mind about things I would like to do, that would be good to do, that I hope to do one day. It is a myth that being retired means more free just depends. More freedom to choose tasks....perhaps.

I love the idea that those disorderly items "swirling and arching" in the mind that have nor yet been captured in a 'to do list' are like fishes. Thank you Stephen Cherry. To do List is his poem/prayer for today on #BigRead14 read by Sara Batty. Some of the 'to do' fish need to be captured, worked through and sorted. What is important? What is not? The prayer ends by asking for help to focus attention, time and energy to where it can be most effective and to let go of what can be left undone today.
"And let me throw the little fish back; 
let me catch them another 
day - when they have grown."
I've been thinking about prayer and how often it can deteriorate into something like a 'to do list' for God. As if God doesn't know what really needs doing unless we list it.  Or how we can not mention something in prayer because it seems too trivial, perhaps unconsciously assuming God is too busy to care about what concerns us. How can we best sift and sort the darting fishes in our prayer life? What is important? What is not?

On his blog 'Interrupting the Silence' Michael Marsh posted a helpful reflection on how prayer can become no more than the presentation to God of a to do list and how different that is from the teaching of Jesus on prayer:
"While we are busy trying to align God with our concerns Jesus is saying we ought to be aligning ourselves and our prayer with God’s concerns. We are to pray according to God’s perspective not ours. That does not mean God is unconcerned or uncaring about our lives but rather that the concerns of our lives seem to work themselves out when we surrender to the concerns of God’s life."
Michael March points out that in his pattern prayer, the Lord's Prayer, Jesus' teaching on prayer is focused on
  • Father, hallowed be your name.
  • Your kingdom come.
  • Give us each day our daily bread.
  • And forgive us our sins, for we forgive everyone indebted to us.
  • And do not bring us to the time of trial.
Maybe considering those concerns as priority could help sort that to do list?


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