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Communion Table

Practice Resources: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

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Can’t stop thinking about last week’s Practice? Wish there were more ways to engage the content or go even deeper into ‘give us this day our daily bread’? Well look no further, because we’ve gathered a few recommendations and resources for you to help the tribe dive deeper into the Lord’s Prayer around ‘give us this day our daily bread.’ Each week we hope to post more and more resources relating to each week’s message to help encourage and direct us in our kingdom practice and understanding.

Recommended Resource

  • This Visual Liturgy by “The Work of the People” on give us this day our daily bread. If you’ve never used a visual liturgy before, it’s like having a liturgy service right where you’re sitting. I love to use visual liturgies during a quiet time or in response to my day. It creates a wonderful space for reflection and contemplation.

Recommended Reading

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
(Romans 12 v 1-2, The Message)


Jenna and The Practice Team

Living in the “this”

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We are so thrilled to share these words written especially to our community by our dear friend, and last Sunday’s guest speaker, Jonathan Martin. (If you missed his teaching be sure to check it out here) What a gift to receive these words in response to our tribe as we practice throughout our week. 

It’s a little hard to explain all of the reasons why my experience at The Practice was so magical on Sunday night.  Creatively and liturgically, it’s exactly the kind of worship my heart longs for, but rarely knows how to name.  There was the anchored rhythm of the liturgy, the fresh artistic expression from within the community, the warmth and reciprocity of the people—and then that intangible Spirit thing that happens when the presence of God is illuminated in our midst.  You just get a handful of moments in your life where your soul somehow knows these people are my people—even though you do not know them very well.  Sunday night was one of those moments for me.

I felt like I was teaching both right from where I am living and yet still somehow out of my depth.  I can assure you there is no one who struggles more violently with being attentive to the moment than I do.  But that was part of the beauty of my experience Sunday night—while I was speaking on daily bread, the words of the Lord’s Prayer were feeding my own soul.  The words were nourishing me, filling me, shaping my hunger and fulfilling it simultaneously.  Even the extraordinary time of “practice” at the end felt less like something I was facilitating, and more like something the Spirit was just doing, where I was allowed to just step into the moment along with you.

As you attempt to embody these words in your own daily practice this week, I am short on advice as to how to carry it out, but long on passion: please just keep showing up.  Show up weekly to gather around the Lord’s Table, where you can feast on the bread of life.  Show up daily, to the place of your choosing—to kneel by the bed or even for a moment in the shower—to open up your hands, and to say out loud again and again, “give us this day our daily bread.”

Give yourself the freedom to feel nothing or feel everything, to want to pray or not want to pray.  Because the fact is, the power of this primal declaration of native dependence is rarely experienced in the praying itself.  In this embrace of your humanness, you are opening a window to your soul through which God give will you bread for the journey.  It will probably only be after you’ve engaged this practice for awhile, likely when you are under some kind of bodily or emotional duress, that you will be able to tell that something is shifted.  It may not be until you are tested that you will know how your soul has been nourished by the bread of heaven.

The only other practice that remains is to attend to the moment you’ve been given.  Attend to the meal that you’re eating, the friend you’re with, the project you’re working on, the conversation you are in.  In each moment, bring your wonder, your gratitude, your incredulity, even your confusion—just so long as you bring your whole self.  Living fully present to the moment is the key to living from your soul, which in the grand scheme of things may prove to be the secret of life itself.  It may take much of our lives to learn how to lasso ourselves from our heads into our hearts, to move from the past or future into the present tense.  The good news is, you have a moment in which to experiment with this new way of living—namely this one.

And because God’s kingdom stretches into forever, we’ve got all the time in the world yet to practice.

Grace and Peace to you,

Jonathan Martin

Message: “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”

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I don’t know about you, but this past Sunday was such a profound and powerful time for me to be among the tribe at the Practice. It was a true privilege to welcome Jonathan Martin into our community as we continued to move through the Lord’s Prayer into “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread.” Jonathan’s message and his guided response were such a gift to our community. If you missed the gathering we would hate for you to miss out! To catch up, or to simply revisit all we learnt last Sunday, here are the words of Jonathan’s beautiful prayer, and the audio recording…

I do not ask
for some future bread.
I do not ask
for some lofty thing.

I ask for nothing more.
I ask for nothing less
than primal provision.

For this, and this – only this.

I do not ask for then.
I do not ask for there.
I do not ask for that.
Only this meal – this moment.

For this day, only.
For this, and this – only this.

Download the message – “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread” (Jonathan Martin)

And as if this isn’t wonderful enough – Jonathan was so kind as to write this blog for us in response to his time with us last Sunday. We encourage you to keep pushing into the beautiful invitation of ‘this’ as you go about your week.


Aaron and The Practice Team.

Sunday Reflection, January 25, 2015

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“Give us this day our daily bread.” – Jesus, Matthew 6:11

I would do the things Jonathan Martin described he did in his dreams.  I would go out and fill my gas tank and run errands just as God offered his presence, conversation, and coffee.  I would determinedly make ice cream sundaes and clean rooms in my house no one would ever see just as God sat down with a listening ear.  I would do these things because I am transfixed by the then, the there, and the that.  I forget about the this, this moment right now.  I am someone who, mostly subconsciously, ends up thinking I am critically important to the world, or at least my part of the world, continuing to function.  So what an incredible relief it was not only to hear that I’m not alone in that thinking, but also to remember, as Jonathan shared, that I am not the creator and sustainer, but the creature for whom there is bread, sustenance, and provision, for this moment, on this day.  What an incredible relief to realize that “if we will attend to this moment, God will attend to us.”

We collectively exhaled last night as we practiced.  Our shoulders released and our fists opened as we kneeled together before our Father as small, weak souls.  Even as our knees ached and our backs curled from all the unnecessary weight we carry that is God’s alone, we felt relief.  We experienced the reality of who we really are: small, creaturely, and dependent.  All the things we try not to be most days.  What an incredible relief it was to be honest with each other and ourselves.  What a weight lifted, to remember that every breath, every inhale, every exhale, is given to us by this great sustainer and life-giver, our Father.  And what a gift, then, to open our hands to receive the daily bread from our Father who loves us and to pray Jonathan’s prayer for daily bread:

I do not ask
for some future bread.
I do not ask
for some lofty thing.

I ask for nothing more.
I ask for nothing less
than primal provision.

For this, and this – only this.

I do not ask for then.
I do not ask for there.
I do not ask for that.
Only this meal – this moment.

For this day, only.
For this, and this – only this.

Would you join me in practicing this exhale this week – the kneeling, releasing, breathing, receiving, praying?  May our Father grant you the courage to be small and the humility to be attentive to this moment on this day.

My heart is not proud, LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.  But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.  (Psalm 131:1-2)

Amen and amen.


Message: “Thy Kingdom Come”

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It was such joy to hear Steve get to teach this last Sunday on “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.”  If you missed the gathering and want to catch up, or if your head is still spinning and you’d like to revisit all we learnt last Sunday, here is a photo of Steve’s legendary visual aid, and the audio recording….

Download the message – “Thy Kingdom Come” (Steve Carter)





If you haven’t checked it out yet – don’t forget to use this personal prayer litany we’ve designed to help you practice at home throughout your week.

Grace and Peace!

Aaron and the Practice Team

What if the story started now?

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“To embrace Jesus is to be reconciled to God and to consciously step into his Story. And to follow Jesus is to have the shape and purpose of our lives conformed to the shape and purpose of his…In other words, we want to inhabit the still-unfolding Story of God and have it change us. And this is exactly what the ancient liturgical habit of living the Christian year helps us to do.”

We prepared our hearts during Advent for the birth of Christ. We were expectant and hopeful. We engaged with the story and made our way to Bethlehem. We worshipped and celebrated Christ’s birth. But now Christmas is over. The anticipation and wonder of the day is now only to be remembered. But for some of us, we may be wondering, what do we do now that the story is over? But is it? What if that dirty manger with poor shepherds and a teenage couple and a crying baby was just the beginning of the story? What if the story that started then is the story that starts now in our hearts?


In Bobby Gross’s book, Living the Christian Year – Time to Inhabit the Story of God, the author invites us to follow the story of Christ throughout the year beginning with Advent. In the book, he speaks of two phrases that Jesus uses quite often in scripture. “Come and See!” and “Go and Tell!” For me, Advent up through Christmas is all about “Come and See.” Make the journey to the manger with expectant waiting to come and see the baby. But in this season, in the church year calendar after Christmas, I think Christ is calling us to “Go and Tell.” I think He’s boldly saying, “The story’s not over yet. It’s just beginning, and you’ve got a major role in it. Come remember my story and go and tell it to others. See how I walked the Earth and now go and tell my Story by the way you live yours.”

God is inviting us to inhabit the greater story every day, and it starts with remembering the story of hope that was born on Christmas day. As we follow Christ’s story along with our own, we are drawn to Him, we become more like Him and we point others to Him. Let’s move from Christmas into the church year filled with a new born sense of wonder, hope and anticipation.

Joan Kelley

Kingdom Practice 2: Noticing the Kingdom

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Practice week 2

Practice week 2

Kingdom Practice
Week 2


This week, we are practicing noticing where the kingdom of God is manifest.  “To notice” means to perceive, become aware of, or acknowledge acquaintance with.  Noticing the kingdom of God is the first step to seeking the kingdom of God (Mt 6:33).  The kingdom of God can be sought after in our ordinary moments, daily routines, and day-to-day relationships.  But so often, in our busyness and constant movement, or in our sin and inattention, we fail to see it.

Starting each day with a prayer and then ending each day by writing down the ways in which you saw the kingdom of God in that particular day – whether in a person, a set of circumstances, a moment, or a place – allows you to become increasingly aware of the ways in which God’s kingdom is already apparent in our world, and the ways in which you can begin to participate in it.


As you practice noticing this week, remember Jesus’ promise:  “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.  Keep on seeking, and you will find.  Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives.  Everyone who seeks, finds.  And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”  (Mt 7:7-8)

Here is one way to engage in the practice of noticing:

Pray.  Each morning when you first wake up, pray this simple prayer: God, please give me eyes to see and ears to hear Your Kingdom today.
Read.  Allow God to speak about the Kingdom through the Scripture listed below using the Lectio Divina practice – read once, then sit silently for a minute and listen for the words or phrases that stand out to you; read a second time, ask God what area of your life these words or phrases relate to, and listen for two minutes; read a third time, ask God if there is an invitation or next step related to the words or phrases, and listen for two minutes.
Write.  Each night before bed, take a few minutes to write down where you saw God’s kingdom during your day.  When you are done, express your gratitude to God for opening your eyes to his kingdom.

Daily Scripture Readings

Monday:  Matthew 13:33
Tuesday:  Matthew 13:44-46
Wednesday:  Matthew 13:47-52
Thursday:  Matthew 18:23-35
Friday:  Mark 4:26-29
Saturday:  Mark 4:30-32

Additional Resources

Book:  Living in Christ’s Presence: Final Words on Heaven and the Kingdom of God, Dallas Willard,

Video:  The Kingdom of God, teaching by Dallas Willard

Videos: The Kingdom of God.  A compelling (and fun) 3 minute explanation…

Setting Up the Chapel

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The Chapel

The Willow Chapel

So excited.  We spent yesterday setting up the Willow chapel in preparation for our first gathering of The Practice this Sunday night.  I can’t possibly convey how much we’re looking forward to this new adventure.

Our goal for the chapel is to help it feel like a holy living room.  Simple, reverent, and human.  The chairs are set up in the round because we long to become a tribe together, and the Eucharist table is in the very center of the room because we know that Christ is the very center of everything.  It’s simple, but hopefully the room will preach louder than any words.

Becky and I even had the chance to run through some of the opening liturgy.  Friends, we can’t wait to dive into this with you.

T minus three days…

Preparing for The Practice

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A few ways to begin…

Hello everyone! As you know, we’re meeting for the first time on Sunday, March 9th. (More info here)  We’ll gather in the chapel to hear the heart behind this experiment, worship together, and begin practicing the way of Jesus. Please join us. Everyone is welcome! The only requirement is that you have a deep desire to engage with Jesus and learn the unforced rhythms of grace. We don’t exactly know where God will lead each of us, but it has the potential to change everything.

Before the 9th, please take a few minutes to read this chapter from Mark Scandrette’s “Practicing the Way of Jesus”.  Mark beautifully articulates why practice and prayerful action are central to the life of a Christ-follower, and he shares stories of how his community actually lives it out.  Our journey will look different here in Chicagoland, but the heart is the same.  You’ll LOVE his passion and creativity.

And then, if you’d like to go deeper, check out the two books below.

Really excited to go on this journey with you all,

Aaron and the Practice team


Living in Christ

Living in Christ

There is truly no one who has formed our understanding of spiritual formation and the Kingdom of God more than Dallas Willard.  And Living in Christ’s Presence is one of the final teachings Dallas gave at the end of his life with John Ortberg.  Absolutely brilliant.  If you’ve never read Willard, this is a great place to begin.

“Jesus is calling us to our part of seeking the Kingdom of God with all our heart.  That is our first priority: seeking the Kingdom of God.  Now, when you seek something, you look for it everywhere….  To seek the Kingdom of God is to look for it to be present and for it to be an action, and then identify yourself with that action.  (Matthew 6:33)  Find out what God is doing where you are and identify with it.” (Dallas Willard)

Practicing the Way

Practicing the Way

You’ve already read the first chapter, but I highly recommend picking up the whole book.  Not only does he offer a compelling vision of life with Christ, but Practicing the Way of Jesus is packed with stories and stories about how they actually, practically, experimentally, creatively, and courageously live it out.

“The invitation to follow the way of Jesus doesn’t help us cope with the busy lives we have or support our quest for the American dream. It does offer us a radical alternative to the ways of this world that are making us hurried, weary and tired.”“Practicing the way of Jesus begins with having an imagination for life in the kingdom of love, desiring that life, and then taking steps to live into that reality through tangible changes in how we live in our minds and bodies.” (Mark Scandrette)


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And so it begins…

Hello!  Thanks so much for being interested in The Practice.  We’re really excited to see what God does with a little tribe of people who humbly work to put Jesus’ words into practice.  Not just believe them in our heads, but to flesh them out into every area of our life…for the glory of God and the healing of the world.

As you may know, this is a grand experiment.  The Willow leadership has given us the freedom and blessing to try new things, explore new paths, learn from as many different perspectives as possible, and give God the space to lead us all into deeper partnership with Him.

We really hope you’ll join us.

But be warned:  it will be messy and unpolished.  We don’t exactly have a ten year plan.  Or a ten minute plan!  (Ha.)  But I can say with all my heart that God has already been leading and guiding the process in beautiful ways.  And He will not stop.  Ever.  All is grace.

So let’s begin gathering together on Sunday nights to see where God might lead us….

Sunday, March 9th
7-9pm in Willow’s Chapel

Over the next couple weeks, we’ll share some thoughts, resources, and ways for you to begin preparing to dive into all this. Please look for an email early next week. Thanks!

Learning the unforced rhythms of grace together,
Aaron and The Practice team