We all heard the phrase growing up: “practice makes perfect” (and maybe fancier versions like “perfect practice makes perfect” or “intentional practice makes perfect”). And while the phrase might be something of a cliché at this point, the idea really matters. Sometimes things worth doing are hard and we need to work at them to get them right.
We can all fill in the blanks with times when we had to work at something consistently, day after day, pushing through the frustration and tedium, before we started to see results. We know that there can be deep rewards on the other side of that practice, deep satisfaction in seeing our work pay off. It’s hard, it takes effort, but we know from our own experience and from the testimony of others that the work bears fruit in the end. So we keep at it. Day after day.
For many, being with Jesus is much the same. The Bible promises us a life of abundance (John 10:10). It says life with God is akin to soaring like an eagle, or running without getting tired (Isaiah 40:31). It invites us to taste and see that God is good (Psalm 34:8). Sometimes, we might hear from others the deep, impactful results of spending time with Jesus—the peace it brings, the whispers of grace and encouragement.
But when we first try to spend time with Him, it might be that nothing seems to happen. We read a passage, we pray, we do our best, but we don’t hear much of anything.
To be sure, there are some who experience Jesus deeply right of the bat, but for most of us, spending time with Jesus takes practice. We have to work at quieting our distractible minds. We need to get used to reading the Bible, and praying, and reflecting. Most of all, we need practice hearing the still, small voice of God’s whispers to us.
God desperately wants to spend time with you, but that doesn’t mean the rewards will be immediate. You’ll see them growing more and more as you consistently engage in Chair Time. You’ll get more comfortable, more confident. And over time you’ll experience more and more the presence of God not only during Chair Time, but throughout your day.
So take some steps now to help you be consistent and push through the initial difficulty:
First, be expectant that God will show up, but don’t be discouraged if He doesn’t seem to right away. God IS there, whether we experience Him or not, but practice helps us to notice.
Second, choose a specific time and place when you will engage in Chair Time, and put it on your calendar. Treat it like any other important appointment, set an alarm, whatever you have to do. Research shows that the more specifically we set our intentions ahead of time the easier it is to follow through on them.
Third, tell someone else that you are practicing Chair Time, and ask them to help you keep at it, not with a shaming “you should be doing better!”, but with a grace-filled “you can do it!” Better still, link up with a group of friends who are all trying to practice Chair Time and talk regularly with them about what God is doing in each of your lives through your time spent with Him.
Fourth, come back and use these blog posts and resources again if needed. If you need more help, reach out to a Group Life leader, a Section Leader, or to one of us who wrote these posts (my email is [email protected]). There are so many people around Willow who would love nothing more than to help you spend time with Jesus.
And finally, keep at it. Consistently practice spending time with Jesus daily. Remember: Jesus, Immanuel, wants nothing more than to be with you!