Go on…take a seat

Several years ago, my son gave me a chair for Christmas. I am unclear as why he believed this piece of furniture would be an appropriate gift for me, but as soon as he saw it, his mind was made up. With his own money he purchased a solitary, leather-covered dining chair. He wrapped it in paper, put a bow on it, and placed it beside the Christmas tree. It was obvious what I was getting.

I first found the gift intriguing and quirky, pleased more with the novelty than with the gift itself. Yet this chair has become a very important part of my life. The chair is where I sit to pray in the mornings; it is where I read the scriptures for the day and where I give to God the concerns of my heart. The chair ushers me into deeper experiences of prayer, and when I sit in my chair I feel at ease, comforted.

Do you struggle with prayer?  If so, you’re in good company. A deeper prayer life is something we all long for but often struggle with. A routine of prayer can be one of the hardest things to establish, particularly if we are going through a time of stress or discouragement.

I felt this during our most recent move. For weeks my chair sat covered by boxes, paper, and bubble wrap. As my chair sat covered, so did my spiritual life. It sounds silly to say this, but without my chair beckoning me, my routine of prayer slipped into non-existence. Each day I said to myself “today I will make time”, but I never did. There was always something that seemed to block me from engaging in my devotions. I felt disconnected, rootless, and discomforted.

But then the day came when the chair was uncovered. It was placed in the corner of my make-shift office, and once again I found myself sitting in my chair to pray. The first time I sat in the chair, after several weeks of being unable to do so, I felt again that sense of being ushered into God’s loving presence. My prayers flowed more easily. My thoughts naturally turned away from all that distracted me, and once again centered upon the grace of Jesus.

This ode to my chair probably sounds overly contrived. After all, isn’t a chair just a chair? Does it really have spiritual significance? According to scripture it does. Tucked in the pages of the Old Testament is a beautiful picture of King David sitting before God. Immediately following his rebuke by the Prophet Nathaniel scripture records that “King David went in and sat before the Lord” (2nd Samuel 7:18). The verse is simple and uncomplicated. It’s easy to miss. Yet the common-place nature of the verse suggests it to be an action that David preformed countless times before. David knew exactly where to go to connect with the Lord. When David felt an inward desire to be in God’s presence, he journeyed to a sacred spot and sat down.

What if establishing a deeper life of prayer was as simple a setting up a chair in the corner of a room? This isn’t as out-there as you may think. We all have our favorite spots through which we engage the world around us. We quickly establish the place we sit at dinner, at church, in school, or at our favorite coffee shop. These become our places, our spots, our chairs. Is it any shock, therefore, that a consistent place of prayer could do wonders for our spiritual lives?

So, as simple as it sounds, if you want to deepen your prayer life, find yourself a chair. If there is a location that helps you enter prayer, don’t be afraid to return to it. It matters not where you place the chair, in the basement, in a bedroom, or in an office – it may even be a bench in a nearby park. Reserve that chair for your times with the Lord. Read scripture in that chair; Listen for God in that chair; Pour your heart out in that chair. Allow that chair to draw you into God’s presence. It won’t take too long for that chair to become sacred space for you, and you will find yourself connecting with God in a deeper, and more loving way. As odd as it may sound, a chair can be the greatest tool for spiritual growth.

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