Want to step into your prayer closet? Want to pray? Don’t know where to start, how to begin? Y’shuaJesus gave this advise:
When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
When I think of going into a prayer closet, I think of a little kid hiding himself in the hall closet. If your hall closet is like my closet, then it’s pretty stuffed. I have a foot locker-like chest in my closet. At times it’s filled, but good for sitting on to put on my boots. Often, though, I have to move a bunch of stuff off the top just to sit down. Then I lean forward, open a drawer, and rummage through looking for the right pair of socks.
Prayer is generally thought of as simply talking with G-D. Like the previous post about a man and his father sitting together enjoying each other’s company, it takes us in many directions. In those posts, I wrote of sitting on a deck overlooking a pond and garden. If the man had a closet like mine, and invited his father to join him, he’d have to do a little house cleaning to accommodate him.
When we commune with G-D, our Heavenly Father, we invite His Spirit into our souls, our hearts. If my heart is filled like my closet, with all kinds of stuff, it really needs to be cleaned up before it can accommodate another person.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
—From Psalm 51
Psalm 51 provides a starting place for this soul cleansing. I find that reading aloud this Psalm opens a place in my heart to accommodate G-D’s Spirit. It’s like cleaning up the stuff on the top of the chest in my closet so that we can sit down together, so there’s room for the two of us to talk together. This Psalm also opens my mind to see more clearly that my actions toward people and even actions toward myself are all done toward G-D too. “Against You. . . have I sinned.” Through this Psalm I place myself as subordinate to the supremacy of G-D as Judge and look for His mercy through His abounding love to clean me up. I really can’t do it on my own.
We live in a world in which we are taught that self-esteem is important and that we must regard ourselves highly. We are suppose to like ourselves. I hear this come out in the phrase, “I’m a good person.” And that may be true. It’s easy to compare myself with others. Jesus pointed this out when He described a man praying, “I thank you, G-D, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector!” Yet we are all sinners. For we have the capability to sin, to do the most horrible things.
A man related this story of how he came to truly like himself. He thought himself a good person. He’d not done bad things. But. . . He’d been on a crowded train in India for many hours and was trying to get off at his stop when people began to crowd onto the train. He stood tall, towering over the others, and pushed his way out the door. As he did so, he nearly knocked an old man over. The man’s hat fell off in the doorway. He looked down at the hat being crushed under foot. Only by the Grace of G-D did the man not fall over and be crushed, too. He realized at that moment that he had the capability to be the worst of the worst. It was in that acknowledgement that he found he could like himself. He was saved from himself.
As I’m writing this post for JonahzSong, I’m listening to a Bill Gaither album, a compilation of various singers. Country singer Bradley Walker sings “Why Me.” He sings “Why me L-RD, what have I ever done to know the pleasures I’ve known. L-RD help me Jesus for I know what I am. But now that I know what I am. Why me? But now that I know what I am, my soul’s in Your Hand.”
King David came to know who he was, and wrote Psalm 51. He’d come to understand his sin with Batsheva. “David’s prayer consists of a number of noteworthy elements, most prominently, perhaps, the emphasis on the theme of “cleansing.” He begs not merely for forgiveness, that he escape punishment, but also that he be “laundered” and “purified” from his sin.” (Daily Tehillim)
We need something from G-D. We want to petition Him for our needs. We want to step into our prayer closets. Get our acts together! Clean up our souls, as we might clean up our closets. Make room for G-D’s Spirit! We are not only confessing known sin, but confessing our capability to simply be a sinner. Then and only then are we enabled to have a conversation with our Heavenly Father. Then and only then, can we petition G-D.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .