“Jesus, we’re about to build a bike.” I muttered this as I opened the box to my son’s new Mantis three-wheeler. Not being the handiest of men, I thought inviting Jesus into the assembly process might forestall some frustration. An hour later, a shiny new bike stood finished in my driveway. Another job-done-well by Jesus-and-me.
I suppose this sounds corny. It reminds me of the time my buddy Mark listed Jesus as his “best friend” on his bio for senior night at our final volleyball game. One of our teammates scoffed at him. “Your best friend is a dead man?” he mocked. “He’s not dead,” we assured him.
Indeed, Jesus is alive. He is risen and enthroned. He remains with us. Always. Until the end of the age. (Matt. 28:18–20). Theologically, Jesus’s ascension secures access for us into His presence. Our great High Priest invites us to His throne to receive grace and mercy in times of need (Heb. 4:14–16). In return, we invite Him into the ordinary happenings of everyday life.
Brother Lawrence is credited with formalizing this discipline of “practicing the presence” of Jesus. Frank Laubach advanced it with his “Game of Minutes,” which conditions the mind to recall Jesus for one second every minute of the day. Both men proved we can abide in Jesus at any moment.
Inviting Jesus into ordinary happenings of everyday life will transform us. This keystone habit has the potential to change our character, improve our outlook, enrich our relationships, and empower our leadership. As we navigate the great disruption of COVID-19, we all seek transformation.
Inviting Jesus into ordinary happenings of everyday life will transform us.' @timsprankle Click To Tweet
However, we must beware of practicing Jesus’s presence to procure certain results. Jesus can see through our self-help schemes. The greatest prize of practicing his presence is, in fact, his presence. Below are five practical ways to invite Jesus into everyday life.
Make the Call: As you go about daily tasks, repeatedly ask Jesus to join you.
Over the weekend, I invited Jesus to join me for various activities during the day. “Jesus, let’s make pancakes… Jesus, let’s fold laundry… Jesus, let’s read with the kids… Jesus, let’s run around the lake… Jesus, let’s sit by the fire…” Bidding Jesus only felt awkward when I stepped into the shower.
Making the call means verbally inviting Jesus into what we are doing. Let’s be clear: We follow Jesus; He doesn’t follow us. Asking Him to join us is not an effort to usurp His authority. We invite His presence to invade our plans for the day. Asking Him to join us is a form of recognizing we live, breathe, and work under His watchful eye.We follow Jesus; He doesn’t follow us.' @timsprankle Click To Tweet
Stop to Listen: Beginnings, endings, and transitions are prime moments to listen to Jesus.
Practicing the presence of Jesus requires us to listen for him. The Son of God still speaks today (Heb. 1:1–3). The Good Shepherd still calls to His sheep (John 10:1–18). The royal High Priest intercedes on our behalf (Rom. 8:34). Sadly, we’re too dense, distracted, or disobedient to hear Him.
His voice always accords with the biblical text; He often confirms His words in the witness of others. He speaks quietly, but His words carry great weight. We cannot hear them without tuning our ear. We attune our ear by spending time in His presence.
Intermittent pauses throughout the day can help us hear Jesus. I often start my day with two minutes of silence. After saying, “Here I am, Lord,” I shut up and listen. I may repeat the practice at the end of study blocks or before important meetings. To enhance my receptivity, I close my eyes, open my palms, inhale deeply, and say, “Here I am, Lord. Speak to me.” I may hear nothing but the beat of my own heart; or, I may hear a word of affirmation—a biblical promise brought to mind. Ultimately, when I stop to listen, I remember Jesus is with me and for me.
Make a Space: Save a seat where you and Jesus meet.
Pulling up a chair for Jesus is not a new practice. In Two Chairs, Bob Beaudine details his daily habit of sitting for thirty minutes facing an empty chair. The open seat represents sacred space; he envisions Jesus sitting there.
Sacred spaces dot the biblical landscape. Abram built altars all over Canaan. God invaded Jacob’s dreams by a riverbed. Moses met Yahweh at a burning bush. Solomon built a glorious temple. Peter, James, and John saw Jesus transfigured on a mountain. The place only becomes sacred when a meeting between God and humans occurs.
The presence of Jesus is not limited to a church sanctuary or retreat center. However, when we make a space, set a time, and pull up a chair for Jesus, we express our desire to meet Him. The space we make can be a monthly prayer retreat or a daily devotional time in the basement.
Take a Walk: Movement clears the clutter so we can connect with Christ.
Many of my best conversations have taken place on road trips, long walks, or hiking trails. My wife and I adopted a practice of Sabbath walks, gleaned from Eugene Peterson’s memoir. Walking and talking build meaningful moments of connection. Even a surface level reading of the gospels shows Jesus constantly “on the road” with His followers. Discipleship, by definition, is a way of walking and talking with Jesus.
Rarely a day passes without my wife leaving the home to wander the woods or amble along the boardwalk. She does her best praying during these promenades. She carries on a conversation with Christ, sometimes aloud, knowing He accompanies her. Similarly, I have found this practice not only fights off the temptation to sleep but also focuses my attention on Jesus in prayer.
Linger in the Gospels: Reading gospel stories slowly, awakens our senses to engage with the Savior.
In Surrender to Love, David Benner advocates for reading the gospels meditatively. He does not discount deep study of the Scriptures, but encourages us to pay attention to the sights, sounds, smells, and physical sensations occurring in a particular story.
When we read with our imagination and emotions, not just our intellect, we are more likely to encounter the lilt in Jesus’s voice, glimmer in his eye, and the gentle pressure of his hand on the man with leprosy. Benner warns against reading to conjure up feelings. Instead, lingering in the gospels reminds us we read with Jesus not just about him.Reading gospel stories slowly, awakens our senses to engage with the Savior.' @timsprankle Click To Tweet
None of these practices is extraordinary, but each one intersects with ordinary happenings of everyday life. None of these practices stands alone, but each one reinforces the others. None of these practices ensures an experience of Jesus’s presence, but each one nurtures a posture of receptivity. He is with us whether we feel it or not. I know because I reached the end of this article, which is another job-done-well by Jesus-and-me.