When we talk about Chair Time at Willow we often describe it as a way to spend intentional time with God each day in His Word. While reading the Bible is an essential component of Chair Time, I want to talk a little bit about what intentional time talking with Him looks like, too.
I grew up in a traditional church. We used what is called a liturgy to guide each service. If you aren’t familiar with the term, just think of a Catholic service with a clear structure to guide when everyone stands, sits, and kneels. While there are truly beautiful parts of using a liturgy, as a kid it was pretty hard to understand the meaning behind it. It felt more like a class than it did a time to connect with God and it greatly affected my understanding of prayer.
Prayer was very formal to me. There was a right time and a right way to do it and if you messed up, then everyone else around you would notice. No one specifically told me this, but the story I told myself was that if I didn’t do prayer right, God wouldn’t listen. For me, prayer felt a bit like walking on eggshells.
Now, I still talked to Him. I prayed before meals and before bedtime. I prayed for big, world problems. I prayed for other people and their issues, but I rarely went to him with any requests of my own and I certainly didn’t do it outside the structure of prayer that I learned.
Fast forward. When I got to adulthood and began to understand better God’s heart to be in relationship with me, I had to relearn prayer, especially as a part of my Chair Time. In a lot of ways, I had over-complicated prayer, when in all reality prayer is simply this: an ongoing conversation with Jesus.
This passage from Ephesians 6:18 helped me simplify, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” The idea that there are all kinds of prayers was so freeing to me—there isn’t one right way!
Just like there are different types of conversations with people in our lives, there are different types of conversations with God, too. There is no one-size-fits-all method. In fact, there are very few rights and wrongs—and there’s always room for personal growth and new approaches. The method itself is less important than the fact that you are communicating with God.
And prayer isn’t just a task—a part of Chair Time that we check off the to-do list. Prayer is transformative. Christian author and theologian C.S. Lewis talks about the effectiveness of prayer in this way: “I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time—waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God—it changes me.” As you spend more time in conversation with God, both talking and listening, God will start to mold and transform you. If you desire to continue growing and changing, prayer simply must be part of the equation. Incorporating it into your Chair Time is one of the most efficient, powerful ways to grow.
So now, let’s get to the practical part of prayer. How do you incorporate it into your Chair Time routine?
I’m going to offer some examples of different methods of how to pray, but my encouragement to you is to make it your own. For me, when I released myself from the message that there is a correct way of doing prayer, my relationship with God become more intimate and connected. This section isn’t intended to give you an exhaustive list of all the ways to pray; rather, it is intended to pique your curiosity. As you discover and try different strategies and methods of prayer, lean in wholeheartedly. If prayer itself is new to you, using one of the methods listed below is a good starting place. If prayer is already an active part of your relationship with God, then try a new method of praying to see if it helps you experience God in new ways.
Written by Katie Franzen