When I have the time, I keep my home in order. I’m not a rock star at it, and there is always a tuft of cat hair swirling around or a laundry basket waiting to be attended to. But I’ve had those shining moments when my kitchen counters are clean and most everything is in its place.
I like those times.
I wish I had them more often.
Even when my house is in shambles, it doesn’t mean I don’t want it to be clean. It’s just that my desires and my abilities don’t always share the same Uber.
My prayer life is similar. There are days when it’s tidy. I set aside time in my morning to pray, read the Bible, and journal. I spend a quiet 30-60 minutes with God; everything else cleared away so I can focus on prayer and meditation. I love these mornings. They shape my entire day.
Now, before you begin to idealize my prayer life, let me assure you that even on those days, my mind wanders. Thoughts of the groceries I need to buy or bills I need to pay are always there; they just stay swirling in the corners.
Other times, my prayer life is a flat-out mess. Some days I do not have time to take a shower, let alone seek out prayer and meditation. I’ve got too many things in my schedule and a quiet time seems totally unrealistic. On those days, my prayers are mostly nonsensical thoughts pointed in God’s direction. I offer Him a rambling monologue of worries and needs with a bit of praise thrown in while I am doing my seventh errand or grabbing drive-thru food that I will regret eating an hour later.
Some people are adamant about setting aside a quiet time to pray every day. They make time for it without exception. Likewise, I have friends who keep their homes stunningly clean. On my good days, I feel inspired by people like that. Other times, I feel like a loser when I compare myself to them. I long for my prayer life to be tidy like that. I don’t want my days to resemble overflowing laundry baskets. And yet, they do more times than I’d prefer.
In 1 Thessalonians 16-18, Paul says “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” It makes me wonder if Paul ever did his own laundry. How is unceasing prayer even possible? From his writing, it’s clear that he did have things to do during the day. He wrote letters to churches, he had a tent-making business, he chatted it up with all kinds of people and he traveled quite a bit. There must have been days when he hit the ground running and didn’t stop until long after dark. So if Paul prayed without ceasing, that means must have done it even when he was going through the McDonald’s drive-thru.
Prayers can be consistent even if circumstances are not. You don’t have to clean the entire house before inviting Jesus in. Just shove that pile of clothes on the couch over and ask Him to sit down. He doesn’t mind the chaos. He’s totally fine with crumbs on the counter and dishes in the sink. He is good and gracious. Jesus is the kind of friend you can invite over when everything is a mess; whether it’s in your heart, your schedule, or your home.
If we are going to pray without ceasing, it means we will be doing it in all the circumstances of life. It means we will ramble on and get distracted and be less than we want to be. It means we will have those awesome moments of everything in its place as well as times of crazy chaos when we barely have time to think, let alone dedicate an hour to meditate.
Prayer, whether scattered or orderly, is inviting Jesus into your every day, imperfect life. It’s having an awareness of His presence even when you aren’t praying to Him directly. Bring Him with you through the drive-thru. Clear a space for Him between the piles of laundry. He’s not waiting for your house or your mind to be tidy. Jesus just wants to hang out with you. Let Him.