Praying With Simplicity
"Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before. God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace."
Matthew 6:6 (The Message)
Jesus has so much to say about prayer in the sixth chapter of Matthew. This is the chapter where He introduces the disciples to The Lord's Prayer. I love the wording that is used in The Message version of this text. It is clear cut and to the point; don't turn prayer into a theatrical production to impress others. Keep prayer simple. As Jesus says in verse 14, "In prayer there is a connection between what God does-and what you do."
Last weekend I went on retreat with a wonderful group of women. We do this every year about this time and always stay at the same place. I've done a post about retreats I've been on in past years. This year's retreat theme focused on finding blessings in our brokenness and realizing that even during really tough times, God has a plan for us. Our "spiritual craft" for the weekend was to take broken bits and pieces and other odds and ends and turn them into a beautiful mosaic of some kind. As we worked on this craft, one of the women got her guitar and began to play and sing hymns. One by one, we all joined in with the singing and our voices became a choir of praise as we worked. It was a beautiful, Spirit filled time of prayer and praise through song and creativity. It was simple, and yet, oh so meaningful.
The house we stay in for retreat has a "prayer closet." It is just big enough for a small altar and a chair. There is natural light coming in from high windows and built in shelves that house artifacts that were important to the original creator of the prayer closet. The altar is simple as well; a cross and three glass candles sit on the altar table and a prayer cushion is below on the floor. I found myself drawn to this tiny space during our journaling time. I felt safe in the prayer closet, withdrawn from others with the folding pocket door shut behind me. It was just me and God there and I was able to pour out my heart before the Lord. I remarked to others in the group that I would like to create a prayer closet here at home, but I didn't have a closet for this purpose. I decided to dedicate a corner of our family room for this purpose and even created a little portable "altar" for that space. It's just a shoe box turned sideways with things inside that are meaningful to me; a cross I bought when I began studying to be a Lay Servant, a sign I painted that says "Gratitude", a ceramic dish I made with my women's group that has a leaf imprint on it, a favorite Bible verse in a small frame, a flameless candle and a beautiful lace doily on top of the box.
Now, I know that I don't need a prayer closet or a prayer corner in order to pray. I can pray whenever I want to and wherever I happen to find myself. But, somehow, having this prayer corner has helped me this past week to focus more during my prayer time. I have looked forward to going to this space, shutting myself away from everything else and spending time alone with the Lord. Just God and me, in my secluded and quiet place.
I have needed this seclusion. A member of our extended family received a cancer diagnosis this past week. There have been tears and worry and concern for the future. It is through prayer that we find strength to cope at times like this. The admonition to "pray without ceasing" becomes especially meaningful as we wait for upcoming surgery and pray for healing. I feel God's presence walking through this difficult time with our family. Your prayers for "L" would be greatly appreciated.
*Have you ever created a prayer space in your home? Where do you like to pray? How has your weekend been? I look forward to hearing from you."