Years ago I took piano lessons. I hated doing scales and wanted to just sit down and play the songs I enjoyed. Of course, those who play piano realize that practicing those arpeggios is what helps to make the fingers move with greater dexterity over the keyboard. My mom would set the timer, set it on the piano and I would begin practicing. I know there were many times I moved the timer a minute, and the next day two minutes faster, and so on. I HATED to practice, I just wanted to PLAY.
I was reading the July/August Worship Leader magazine, and a few things caught my attention.
Spontaneity often comes from practice being made perfect. Seems like an irony, but listen to this quote from Ben Patterson on the honing of our skills and spontaneity in our worship: “A good metaphor for the true freedom of disciplined Christian worship can be found in the dancer’s art. Nothing looks more free and spontaneous than a great dancer performing. But beneath all of that freedom and spontaneity are years of drills, repetition, sweat, strain and more drills. Sunday morning worship is to the rest of our lives what cultivation is to a garden. We weed, prune, water and feed to the end that the garden may be beautiful – spontaneous – gardens are not; disciplined – gardens are.” (go.wlmag.com/wlpatterson)
In an article by Rick Lee James, titled Billy Joel Taught Me How to Pray, James tells how Joel shared his routine for writing songs. He would sit at his piano for at least one hour a day. He’d play scales, familiar tunes, or anything that came to mind. Sometimes that period of time would drag on when no creativity surfaced, but other times one hour turned to many more as he showed up at the piano, got involved and waited for something to happen. Joel noted that “If I hadn’t been there, I would have missed it.” James likens this to spending time with God. How often does God want to shower us with His blessings, encourage us with His words, or enfold us in His love but we are too busy running. Some of the things we are so busy with are good things like taking kids to their next practice or leading worship a worship service. But we’ve allowed the busyness to encroach on our personal time with God. Just spending time with Him. Meditating on who God is. Being filled with Him.
Sometimes we are so busy doing things for God that we don’t take the time to just BE WITH GOD.
At times it is very frustrating to continue bringing the same requests for a loved one to God in prayer when it seems like the prayers are never answered. In reality, those requests are not unheard. They are shaping, preparing and posturing us in our relationship with God. So many times during the quiet periods from God where it seems like He isn’t listening we grow frustrated and want to quit spending time with Him. When in reality if we keep “showing up” for time with God He surprises us in ways very unexpected and often more meaningful.
Our church is encouraging each other to share the gospel message of God’s salvation plan through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. This can happen off the cuff in conversations, but more often than not, the conversation flows much easier when we’ve spent time with God. For me sometimes the hardest thing to do is sit still with NO distractions and just BE in God’s presence. However, when I “practice” it on a regular basis – it becomes more precious and incredibly spontaneous, personal worship occurs.
Due to some personal challenges recently, I’ve had to lean on God a lot, and yet I have felt so drained because I let the busyness of the circumstances steal my focus on just BEING before the face of God. I need to get back to my Billy Joel teaching – “If I hadn’t been there – I would have missed it.” I need to spend much needed time with God, for when I do – He blesses me in ways that are too wonderful for me to comprehend. One of those was standing at church yesterday talking with two precious friends and receiving their reminders of God’s love and grace through the difficult times and the blessing of just BEING with God.
Celebrating the abundant blessing of God’s encouragement to “Practice, practice, practice!” ~ Faye