In an often-replayed press conference from a decade ago, basketball superstar Allen Iverson responded to questions from reporters about the losing season his team experienced. When asked if the focus of a closed-door discussion with his coach occurred in response to his habit of missing practice, Iverson responded with: “Hey I hear you, it’s funny to me too, hey it’s strange to me too but we’re talking about practice man, we’re not even talking about the game, when it actually matters, we’re talking about practice.” A reporter followed up with the question, “Is it possible that if you practiced you could help make your teammates better?” Iverson responded with, “How in the (expletive) could I make my teammates better by practicing?”
In the seventeenth century at the age of 24, Lawrence of the Resurrection, born Nicolas Herman, joined the Discalced Carmelite order of the Catholic Church in Paris. As an uneducated monk who served as a cook in a French monastery, Brother Lawrence found himself practicing the presence of God while pealing potatoes as well as when he was kneeling in prayer. His recorded words reflect that dedication when he wrote, “The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clutter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the Blessed Sacrament.”
Practice is repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency. It is learning through repetition, which then becomes habit. Brother Lawrence wrote, “There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God; those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it.”
If worshipers habitually practiced the presence of God throughout the week…what could occur when they got to practice God’s presence together on Sunday? Although our verbal response to practicing the presence of God during the week may not be as overtly profane as that of Allen Iverson, our actions often convey the same disdain. Our singular focus on Sunday worship communicates that worship begins and ends with our opening and closing songs. To loosely quote one of the reporters “Is it possible that if we practiced during the week we could get better and also help make our teammates better?”
Worship leaders…we must lead them, exhort them, model for them and teach them to worship not only when they meet but also when they disperse. What occurs on Sunday should be an overflow of what has already occurred during the week with the added benefit of getting to share it with others.