My husband John and I were driving down a road in rural North Carolina after a few days of vacation at Emerald Isle with friends. Since it was on the eastern part of the state, I was having to navigate with GPS. I was very intrigued with an upcoming church called the House of Prayer. When we got there we were surprised by how overgrown it was and it took only a second before John said “You are going to want a picture of that.” He was right. We did a quick U-turn and I took a quick photo with my phone.
My immediate question to myself was, how often does my prayer life look like this? It takes time to keep the weeds of busyness, work, kids, husband, the latest book, tv show, or Facebook post from encroaching on what I would like to keep as a pristine house of prayer in my life.
There are not only the external weeds that encroach on my prayer life, but the internal ones that also cause rot to creep in—of praying to check a block off my to do list, of only talking to God and not listening, of only being willing to hear what I want to hear, of only praying in ways that are easy and comfortable and predictable, praying for my physical well-being and not my spiritual, praying for myself and not for others.
How can I keep my House of Prayer “company ready”, ready for a conversation between me and the Creator of the Universe?
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matt. 6:5-15, NIV)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matt. 5:43-45, NIV)