Is your prayer closet like your clothes closet . . . in need of decluttering?
Yesterday, a fashion consultant came in and pulled everything out of my closet. She found clothes my mom gave me, and she’s been gone since 1999. We culled suits from when I worked in New York in 1998.
I had many “outdated,” “no longer fit me,” or “love it but totally tattered” clothes, hanging there purely for sentimental reasons. Items I had purchased on consignment over the years added to the clutter.
Many I wore once. Some, I never wore at all. They were desperate “grab and go’s” 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.
Purging My Prayer Closet
My prayer closet has been a lot like my clothes closet. So many old forms and modalities mixed in with new, fresh understandings of God. Books on prayer also sit on my shelf, many doing me no good. I try to keep the old versions of prayer with the new, not wanting to rid myself of anything I “need” 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 relinquishing expectations—both my own and others’—for what my prayer life should look like. I made only one simple request of myself. To begin with hallowing His name. To worship and to realize that this great God actually inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3).
Then, I needed to acknowledge and accept that my mind will wander. I’m human. Sometimes in prayer, I realize that I am making things more about me than about Him, more about what I need and want than acknowledging and surrendering to His rule and reign in my life.
Instead of condemning myself, I bring myself back to Him.
Whatever the thought, the inner dialogue, the “to-do” list in my mind, the reminder that started to cause anxiety, whatever it is, I choose to bring it back to Him and start anew.
Finally, I decided praying the Word was to be continually incorporated into my prayer time to keep me grounded in God’s Truth as I dance, play, cry, try not to complain, request, ask, and ponder.
Interesting that as I stop predefining the time, my conversations with God have been taking more intimate—and meaningful—shape.
I realize there is a lot in my prayer closet to draw from that was hidden from me due to the clutter of such pre-conceived notions as making sure everything on my prayer list was covered, condemning thoughts, and sentimental ideas.
I needed to declutter my prayer closet in the same way I needed to rid my clothes’ closet of things no longer suited for me.
A New Reality
Now, I enjoy walking into my clothes closet. The rainbow of arranged colors in front of me create options and speak of order while creating infinite options for ensemble development.
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, creating seemingly infinite opportunities and promptings that are anchored by His Word and guided by His Spirit.
What expectations do you hold for your prayer time? Is there any deluttering 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.” (Matthew 6:5)