Most of us have seen our fellow commuters multitask while driving in heavy traffic. Some seem quite proficient at it and are able to eat, drink, talk on cell phones, brush their teeth and many other activities while they navigate their way to work. These habits seem risky but nearly all of us have multitasked in some facets of our lives. Multitasking is more than being able to do several tasks well, it is being able to do more than one at the same time. In fact, humming, whistling, or singing while doing an unpleasant job can enhance one’s tolerance for the most mundane work and help us finish it quicker (Surely you can rub your stomach and pat your head at the same time). However, the more dangerous the job, the more one needs to focus in on the performance. The 100 mph fast ball in baseball, the rip cord on the parachute and the power saw blade are just a few examples.
Recently during our small group meeting we mentioned how difficult it often is to maintain concentration while praying (Eph 6:18) (Acts 16:25) (Rom 15:30). Often our ability to multitask sends us off on a tangent when someone’s need or name is mentioned in a prayer. One memory can lead to another and soon one is far from the subject and purpose of the original prayer. This distraction could produce a positive or negative result depending upon whether it can be channeled back into the worship of God.
The same situation can be present during our singing (1 Co 14:15) (Jas 5:13), giving (2 Co 8:1-5) (2 Co 9:6-7), listening to the sermon (Gal 1:8) (Acts 8:4), and partaking of the Lord’s supper (1 Co 11:23-29). We all seem to struggle to stay on our spiritual tasks. Perhaps one way to help would be to visualize God watching and listening to our efforts. Another might be to imagine our feelings if a friend started talking about your good points but then continually switched the conversation to himself.
Given how complex the human brain is, in matters of the soul we must decide what the main lesson is and then train ourselves to focus on it (1 Tim 4:7-8).