When I am having friends or family over for a visit, I get excited and prepare. I think about what I’m going to make for dinner. I imagine how I want the table to look. I make sure the house feels comfortable and clean. In other words, I prepare.
The second week of Advent is about preparation. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “Prepare the way for the LORD” (Isaiah 40:3). We are to prepare our hearts to experience Emmanuel and to welcome Him into every detail of our lives. This takes intentionality. Too often we get distracted by the busyness of life and forget that Jesus wants us to prepare our hearts to celebrate His incarnation. We prepare for those we love by purchasing gifts and putting up decorations. But what does it look like to prepare to encounter Jesus afresh this Christmas?
As I’ve been thinking about this, here are just a few practices that might help you prepare to celebrate Christ this Christmas.
3 Practices to Prepare Him Room This Advent Season
Use an Advent Devotional in Your Daily Time with Jesus. One of my favorites is Susie Larson’s Prepare Him Room. Susie’s devotional travels through the Gospel of Luke, from the manger to the ascension. It’s a great companion to reading through the Gospel of Luke this December. There are exactly 24 chapters in the gospel of Luke, and so it leads you right up to Christmas Eve. By Christmas morning, you will feel so in love with Jesus that you’ll be ready to celebrate all day.
Use an Advent Wreath and Light a Candle at the Beginning of Each New Week. As you light the candle, read a portion of scripture that goes with the theme for each week: Hope, Preparation, Love, and Joy. Spend a few moments together as a family praising God for coming. If your kids are small, there are some great advent books out there to guide you in this process. Don’t get discouraged if the kids get silly. Laughter is good for the soul and I believe Jesus was a whole lot more patient with kids than we are. So enjoy. Remind your family that, as Christians, we live between two arrivals. We celebrate the arrival of the infant Christ child in Bethlehem and we eagerly anticipate His second coming.
Use the Various Names of Christ to Worship through Advent. Take a different name of Christ for each day. Research what each name says about Jesus and make that the focal point of your praise that day. Each name of Jesus is so wonderful and scripture teaches us that those who know His name will put their trust in Him (Psalm 9:10). As you worship the Lord through Advent, wouldn’t it be wonderful if your trust went deeper? The key is to know Him by His names. Here are just a few to get you started:
The Bread of Life (John 6:35)
The Christ (Matthew 16:16)
The Good Shepherd (John 10:11)
The Rose of Sharon (Song of Solomon 2:1)
The Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6)
The Word (John 1:1)
The Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)
Advent is a wonderful season to cultivate the longing of your heart for more of Jesus. The amazing thing is that the more we are satisfied, the more hungry we become. However, with all that pulls at us in our daily lives, our appetites have to be cultivated for Him. This Christmas season, don’t numb the longing of your heart with cheap substitutes like overindulgence or busyness. Instead, ask the Holy Spirit to awaken a deeper longing in your heart for Jesus. Try one of these ideas to prepare Him room: use an advent devotional or an advent wreath, or try using the names of Jesus to worship Him.
Lord Jesus, we want to prepare You room in our lives. We often get so busy, the season passes by and we feel exhausted by the end. Teach us to prioritize cultivating our appetites for You. May we center our lives on You this Advent.