The Chair

Some of my favorite pastors to listen to on Podcast or Youtube have talked about the idea of having a chair where you meet with Jesus. The chair where you sit in the wee hours of the morning and pray with your bible. Somewhere that is made sacred by these times and creates a safe place to be vulnerable with God. This idea resonates with me, I have had many chairs over my lifetime. Where all I had to do was sit in it and I was in His presence, surrounded by the comfort of His embrace. I hadn’t thought much of this quality of my prayer chairs until one of these pastors pointed it out. Oddly enough, having it pointed out created a point of contention: I can pray anywhere. I don’t have to go to my chair to meet with God.

For me this small rebellion played out in the space of about two yards, whether I spent my quiet time with Jesus in the seat near my chair or in my chair. I’d wake up to pray with a list of excuses for not sitting in my chair, but later in the day I’d sit in my chair for the moment of comfort that couldn’t be found in the neutral seat. In my spirit I knew the difference between the neutral seat and my chair, but my mind wouldn’t yield.

God is consistent in His character and His movements. We can see this in the bible and probably in our own lives if we take the time to reflect. For example, in the bible you can read the story about God meeting Moses on Mount Horeb. This is the burning bush moment where God tells Moses to take off his sandals because it is holy ground. Moses receives his calling and goes to free Israel from captivity in Egypt (Ex. 3:1-4:17).

Later you read about God meeting His people at Mount Siani after they leave Egypt. This is where they receive the Ten Commandments and other instructions on how to live in freedom now that they were out of slavery (Ex. 19:1-24:18). It is another holy place. Or is it? In fact they are the same mountain, the same holy ground, the chosen chair.

Later still we read the thrilling account of the prophet Elijah. He’s the one who confronts the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel and called down the fire of God to light his burnt offering. After this triumph Jezebel, King Ahab’s wife, sent Elijah a death threat. Elijah fled to the wilderness. He walked for forty days and forty nights, where he ended up at Mount Horeb. A man of God went to meet with his God at a known sacred place of meeting. God indeed met Elijah there, not in the wind or the fire, but in the whisper. (1 Kings 18:1-19:12)

What’s the deal with chosen places of meeting? What makes Mount Siani sacred and the mountain down the way mere rock? Why can I feel the arms of the Spirit’s presence in my prayer chair but not in the neutral seat two yards away from my chair?

I think it is on account of two things. First of all, God doesn’t play hard to get. He wants to be found. God made it public knowledge that Mount Siani/Horeb was sacred, and if you wanted to find Him, He would be there waiting. Always.

Second of all, it gives us the opportunity to submit and let go of everything that might get in the way of meeting with God. Moses, who grew up in Egypt as Pharaoh’s adopted grandson, was now alone and far from any false grandeur or pride. Elijah spent forty days and forty nights walking in the wilderness. He too was now alone and far from the glory of his triumph. They came to God not as Pharaoh’s grandson, or the prophet that shamed and defeated the prophets of Baal. They came humbly as themselves. Not in strength but in weakness. Not going to tell God what He needed to do, but going to listen to what God had to say.

It’s the same with my chair. God has made His mark, blessed a patch of my house as sacred. He wants to be found by me, and I know where to find Him. Praying in my chair also gives me the chance to submit to God. To meet Him on His ground rather than insisting He meets me on my ground at the neutral seat. In one place I am trying to dominate the relationship and take control. In the other I am humbling myself and acknowledging that I can’t control God and shouldn’t try to do so. Not to mention, domination is not love, nor is control love; and if I bring either to my relationship with God I am no longer offering Him a loving relationship but a toxic one. I don’t think my toxicity will ruin God, like it would in a relationship between people. But I think it might grieve Him.

So I work to quell the rebellion in my heart against praying in my chair. Because I don’t want to give God grief. When I go to have my quiet time I know where to go to meet God. I don’t have to search in vain for where God will be waiting, I know where He is waiting and I can go right to Him. I should be praising God and singing hallelujah that I have a prayer chair and He is there waiting. Always.

-Etta Woods