GENESIS 6: FORGETTING GOD THE VERY LEAST YOU CAN
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE HUMAN ATTENTION SPAN?
The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. (Gen. 6:5 NIV)
I read a study recently that found our attention span is worse than a goldfish. Goldfish can attend to a task for at least nine seconds before getting distracted. Us? Eight seconds.
Yet, as Genesis chapter six reminds us, we are actually capable of attending to things for much longer than this. For example, the bad stuff tends to stick, doesn’t it? When we are angry, broken, vengeful, or hurt, we think upon it day and night. We’re kept awake by it. We can’t not ponder it.
This is true at the positive end of the spectrum as well. That is why Paul can command, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). It’s possible for us to be so enamored with God, so drawn to God, that we, naturally, engage with him 24/7. We saw this earlier in Genesis chapter one–Adam and Eve and God in the Garden, enjoying unhindered and unceasing engagement with one another.
Brother Lawrence was a lay brother in a Carmelite community in Paris, France. Though just a cook, he became famous for his ability to live the opposite of our text in Genesis chapter six. Every inclination of the thought of his heart was only godly all the time. He did everything as if in the presence of God–even washing dishes. His basic spiritual advice? Forget God the very least you can.
PRAYER OF AVAILABILITY
“Father, thank you that you are accessible and available all day, every day. Thank you for making me with the capacity for engaging you all day, every day. Help me not to set my heart on evil continually, but on you continually.”
ACTION STEP: FIXED-HOUR PRAYER
Fixed-Hour Prayer is a spiritual discipline that can allow us to keep our hearts oriented toward God throughout the day. For centuries, Christians around the world have paused to pray in the 1) morning, 2) at midday, 3) in the evening, and 4) at bedtime (in addition to other times). Set an alarm today and for the next few days during these four periods. When it goes off, stop and talk to God about what’s going on at that moment in your life and about who you are around at that moment.
Chris is a spiritual director, the author of seven books, a father to Jordan and Jacob, a husband to Kendra, and has preached for the Highland Church of Christ since 1998.