Recently, I was reading Hebrews 12:1 (let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us). I asked the Lord what hinders me running the race, and He said “Procrastination!”
During lockdown, I have started organising my study. I have put this off for twelve years, because it was such a huge task that I just could not face it! So, I was not surprised when God said that. As I prayed about procrastination, I saw that it had become a pattern in a couple of areas in my life, as a result of which I ended up more stressed than if I had done the task at the appropriate time.
The dictionary defines procrastination as the action of wilfully and consistently postponing something (a task or making a decision) that needs to be done. Procrastination is common. Some people procrastinate occasionally in a certain area, while for others it becomes a habitual lifestyle.
When we hear the word procrastination, we often think of laziness. This may be the cause, and the Bible warns that laziness is a sin that we need to repent of (Proverbs 20:4). Perhaps we do not want to do something that is hard or that we do not enjoy, so we substitute it with something easier and more pleasant, but not as important. We may put off important tasks that do not have an immediate deadline, convincing ourselves that there will be time to do them later, which then often becomes last-minute.
Fear is an important reason why we procrastinate, particularly if it has become a way of life. We may avoid making decisions out of fear of making a wrong decision because someone criticised or laughed at us for a decision we made. We may be fearful that we will not reach our own perfectionist standard.
Why is procrastination a problem? As Ecclesiastes 11:4 (above) says, sowing and reaping must be done in the proper season, or there will not be any fruit. The wind may cause trouble, but it does not prevent sowing, and clouds do not need to stop us reaping. If we wait for perfect conditions, we will never get anything done. Procrastination hinders effectiveness, causes fear and worry and increases stress. Sometimes we need to delay a decision until God gives more details, but we need to be honest, as to whether we really need more information, or are just delaying acting on the information we have.
Perhaps you need to ask yourself if you have been putting off things and if so, why? Perhaps you want to consider what alternatives aid you if you are procrastinating - social media, emailing, phoning and sudokus are common avoidance activities.
It would be good to ask God to show you if you procrastintate and if you do, why. This is the key to healing and walking into freedom in this area. As we work with Him to deal with past issues and fears, He will enable us to make decisions and follow through on them to make the best use of the time (Ephesians 5:15-16). You might like to pray the following prayer.
Prayer: Lord, I know You want me to make the best use of my time. I realise that I have put off doing certain tasks or making decisions (name them). As a result, I have become stressed and anxious and missed opportunities. Please show me why I procrastinate. I ask You to heal my heart wounds and help me to follow through with what I need to take responsibility for so that I can use my time in the way that pleases You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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