matterofprayer blog post for Wednesday, January 15, 2014
In my prayer time for the past number of weeks, I’ve been occasionally praying through an excellent little book. (with a time-out for Advent, when I used an Advent devotional.) It’s what a book on prayer ought to be: helpful, thought-provoking, insightful. And the author even has a gentle sense of humor. As I read through chapter 25 yesterday morning, I came to a full stop. Not even a yield sign, but a full-fledged red octagonal sign with the word “STOP” emblazoned on it.
The chapter was called “Renunciation.” The author suggested his readers subtract certain things from their lives. This was it. Stop. This statement touched me deeply. I had to think about it for several long minutes. When I finally began reading again, he gave several examples of possible things or practices or habits that readers could renounce. Good suggestions.
My life is somewhat cluttered. This has never particularly bothered me, as it would certain of my extended relatives. (Three of my aunts, now deceased, kept immaculate homes. But not my mother. And not I.) But as I age, I am becoming more inclined to streamline my life. De-clutter.
I have a number of the classic fruits of the Spirit the Apostle Paul speaks of in Galatians 5. Except for self-control. I keep falling down, tripping up on self-control. I’ve been going to my spiritual director for almost ten years now. She and I have had discussions about this area of my spiritual (and physical) life. Over this time period, I have attempted to exercise self-control in one, two, or more areas for some months at a time. I do well for a short while, maybe even a month or two longer. Eventually, I can’t do it any more. I can’t continue juggling. (Although, I am succeeding in several areas right now. May I be able to continue, God! Please! Please??)
One of my daughters and I cleaned our apartment over the holidays. And for the most part, it has stayed clean. Hasn’t gotten re-cluttered. It’s much the same with my spiritual life. Over the fall, I have been more intentional about regular prayer and meditation. I also started an intercessory prayer ministry at my church, where I’m coordinator and facilitator. I have consistently prayed six days out of seven, most weeks in the past months, and a few weeks I prayed every day. Yay, me! This track record is fabulous!
It isn’t that I shy away from prayer, or fear getting close to God. No. That isn’t it. My life is just too cluttered. Full of stuff. Some of it is needful. Work is necessary, for example. Very true! But other than that, my life could lighten up. (So could I, physically. Lose at least fifteen or twenty pounds.) I was convicted, big time. I need to de-clutter.
Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for the kind, admonishing words of Rev. Howell. I need to subtract things from my life. I need to find room—make room for You. Forgive me for having such a full life that sometimes it seems as if there is no place for You. Dear God, thanks for giving me the impetus to de-clutter. I pray You can help us choose those things that aren’t necessary, or need to go. Thanks for the help! In Your name we pray, amen.