For the past several years I have played guitar as a part of the worship team at my church. Even though I am one of the least advanced musicians on the team, I love being part of the band! Last weekend, I played for the first time after taking a two month break. The problem was, along with not playing on stage, I also didn’t pick up my guitar at home. For two months, I didn’t practice. My fingertips didn’t come in contact with the strings.
Over those 8 weeks, my fingers didn’t feel any different than normal. I had no idea anything was changing…until I started practicing for the weekend. After running through the songs a couple times, I became painfully aware that something had changed! My fingertips were red and sore by the end of practice. My ability to handle the pressure of the strings digging into my fingers had diminished.
We have three services on Sunday mornings, with a practice before that. That’s about two hours of playing. By the middle of the first service, I was feeling it! By the end of the second service, I discovered blisters covering two of my fingertips. I started the third service knowing that there was a chance the blisters would break…and psyching myself up to keep playing through the pain!
See, typically, I spend hours practicing before anyone sees me play on stage. During a service, when I’m playing with all the passion I’m feeling, the strings dig in harder. The practice time that no one sees keeps my fingers ready for the pressure of giving it all I’ve got on stage.
Sunday afternoon as I looked at my blisters – thankful that even though they grew during the last service, they didn’t break! – I saw such a strong parallel to our spiritual life. I have trained my fingers through disciplined repetition. My body responds to pressure a certain way because of the consistency of that practice time. My ability to handle the pressure doesn’t stay the same when I neglect that discipline – even when I can’t tell that anything has changed.
That practice time is just like our daily devotion time with God – the consecrated, consistent time that nobody sees. Authentic relationship with God is only cultivated through time spent in His presence. There isn’t a shortcut to that. As we grow closer to God, our ability to handle the pressures of life changes. Our faith grows, our love grows, our peace and joy grow. We are stronger.
When we neglect that time, we find ourselves in situations where our faith is not as strong as we thought it was. And, just like those blisters, difficult circumstances will cause us more pain than they would have if we had stayed consistent in our time with God.
So, what does consecrated time with God look like? Just like practicing guitar, it takes discipline and intentionality. It means reading the Bible every day. It means setting aside a specific time of focused prayer every day. It means that even when we feel like it’s not making a difference, we trust that it is doing a work in us that we can’t even see.
For me, talking to God conversationally throughout the day or randomly opening my Bible to read for a few minutes comes easy. It is much more difficult for me to follow a structured schedule – but it is so necessary!
A friend recently said, “If you are only praying spontaneously, you’re missing part of your prayer life. If you’re only praying at a certain time of the day, you’re missing another part of your prayer life. Consecration (setting aside disciplined time to study the Bible, pray, fast, spend time in God’s presence – and doing it consistently) is the key to unlocking every spiritual gift, blessing, and anointing.”
That is so true! That is what makes us stronger. Let’s not wait until the pressures of life cause unnecessary blisters! Let’s commit to a consecrated, daily time in God’s presence. You will be stronger. It will affect your life in ways you never imagined!