Trying to tackle the subject of prayer is like trying to clean out my clothes closet.
Yesterday, a fashion consultant came in and pulled everything out of my closet. She found clothes I received from my mom. She’s been gone since 1999. We pulled out suits from when I worked in New York, in 1988. I had a lot of ‘outdated’, ‘no longer fit me’, ‘hanging there purely for sentimental reasons’ or ‘love it, but totally tattered’, jammed in there. I also had a bunch of ‘consigned’ items that I had purchased over the years. A lot of it I wore once, or never wore at all. They were desperate ‘grab and gos ‘ that wound up hanging there and left. What a waste.
But now – as I open my closet, I can breathe! I can think! And I can actually find something to wear.
My prayer life has been a lot like my closet. So many old forms, modalities, mixed in with new understandings about my God. Many books on prayer sit on the shelf doing me no good. I try to keep the old versions of prayer with the new not wanting to get rid of anything for sentimental or security reasons. But my spiritual shape has changed dramatically over the years and I have to do some cleaning out of my prayer closet so I can function and think and oh yeah, really pray in there!
The purge began with removing expectations for what my prayer time should look like. I made a simple request of myself. To begin with hallowing His name: To worship Him and to realize that this great God actually inhabits the worship of His people. And then to acknowledge that yes, my mind will wander. I’ll suddenly begin to make everything about me. Instead of condemning myself, I’ll bring myself back to Him. Whatever that thought, that dialogue that started to run, that to do list that started to drive, that reminder that started to cause anxiety, whatever, I’ll bring back to Him and start anew. Finally, I decided praying the Word was to be continually incorporated to keep me grounded in God’s Truth as I dance, play, cry, try not to complain, request, ask, ponder.
Interesting that as I stop predefining the time, the conversations take on more intimate shape. I realize there is a lot in my prayer closet to draw from that was hidden from me due to the clutter of pre-conceived notions (pray list of needs making sure everything is covered), condemning thoughts (why can’t you stay focused?) and sentimental motions (now I lay me down to rest…) that I now have access.
I enjoy walking into my clothes closet now. The rainbow of arranged colors in front of me create options, speak of order while creating seemingly infinite options for ensemble development. It seems that same order is beginning to form in my prayer closet.
Praise sets a rainbow of promise before me upon which my conversation with God rests and follows, creating seemingly infinite opportunities and promptings that are anchored by His Word and guided along the path by His Spirit.
What are your expectations for your prayer time? Is there any decluttering you want to do?
“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.…”