What’s In Your Prayer Closet?

Removing unnecessary clutter from your prayer life.

Have you ever opened a closet door only to be overwhelmed with unnecessary clutter? Perhaps you’ve been buried under an avalanche of accumulated junk that reminded you of why you haven’t gone into that closet for a while. Many of us designate a closet, or occasionally a room, in our homes where we store stuff that has depreciated in value and is seldom, if ever, used. We are reluctant to part with these insignificant “treasures”.

What befalls us in the material world can also be true in our spiritual lives, especially when it comes to prayer. If you’re like me, you don’t need any additional hindrances in your prayer life. Jesus taught about the value of retreating to a “room”, or as some say, a “prayer closet” to commune with God (Matthew 6:6). Jesus’ instruction admonishes us not to use prayer as a means to gain anyone else’s attention but God’s. God does not reward hypocrisy but humility.

So, what’s in your prayer closet? Is it filled with items that are not necessary or that discourage your prayer life? For example, some people keep a safety net in their prayer closet because they pray only as a last resort. When their circumstances in life are hopelessly out of control they reach into their closet for the safety net of prayer. They desperately call on God to rescue them from their free fall. Is there is a safety net in your prayer closet? Get rid of it!

Instead, make room in your life for more frequent prayer. Come down from your spiritual high wire where one wrong step can lead to disaster. Depend on God, not yourself, to navigate you through the frequent perils of life’s journey. You’ll find safety in a daily walk where the Lord is your shepherd (Psalm 23).

Others dash into their prayer closet looking for a shopping cart. They know that it must be in there somewhere, hidden by the clutter of answered prayers that are stored but barely remembered. The story of God’s past faithfulness is lost in a prayer life that resembles the game show “Supermarket Sweep”. There is seldom pause given to acknowledge God with a thankful heart, or intercede for those in need, because there is so much more that they want to ask him for themselves.

In this instance, there is little difference between God and Santa Claus, except God delivers all year round. Those who push their shopping carts through life seek out God primarily for their wants rather than their needs or the needs of the world around them. They quickly become disappointed with God like they would with a pizza delivery man who delivers an order without all the toppings requested. Somehow God is obliged to give them what they want, how they want it, when they want it. This “I want it now” approach to prayer is viewed through eyes that always see the shopping cart half empty rather than half full. If you find a shopping cart in your prayer closet return it to the place of your last blessing, give thanks to God, and leave it. God knows your needs. Seek Him first instead of the things you want (Matthew 6:33). Then you will discover that spending time with God has greater value than the things you sought to fill your shopping cart.

There are some who hear Jesus’ words, go to their prayer closet, place a “gone fishing” sign on the door, and close it behind themselves. These persons can best be described as “fishers of prayer” because when they pray they grab a fishing rod and reel and cast a line to heaven in order to catch some direction for their lives or hook some wisdom. For them, prayer is like going on vacation; they hardly ever go and when they do they expect to catch what they should be experiencing throughout the year, the Spirit’s guidance. Prayer is like fishing, if you do it infrequently, your chances of reeling in the “Big One” aren’t very good. We
learn to identify our Shepherd’s voice by spending time with him and listening to his word (John 10:27). We don’t have to go “fishing” for wisdom and direction for our lives. Why not schedule a vacation every day by allotting time to be still and listen? Cast aside your fishing pole and let prayer reel you in rather than trying
to reel in answers to prayer. I’m certain you’ll get hooked!

There are some who are afraid to go to their prayer closet and have dead bolted it shut long ago. They fear that if they were to open the door, a photo album will fall out. It happens to them every time. They give a wide berth when venturing by the closet. Vivid memories of past failures hold the present and future hostage. The desire to pray is disarmed by feelings of shame, guilt, regret, and self-condemnation. “God can’t possibly want to spend time with me” and “I have to get my life in order before God will accept me” are paralyzing refrains. Besides, they couldn’t find the key if they tried; it was lost in the hope that their memories would be lost too.

Don’t worry! The key can be found in God’s forgiveness. If this describes you, please listen! Don’t be harder on yourself than God is. He chooses not to remember your past failures, “I will remember your sins no more” declares the Lord. He has removed them and their stain from your life (Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 1:18). The photos you fear have faded away in his mercy and grace. There are new photos to be found in your closet. A heavenly album filled with present promises and future hopes that will never fade.

So, follow Jesus’ example and go into your prayer closet. If you find a safety net, shopping cart, fishing pole, or old photo album, remember that it’s all clutter. Let God help you make room, you’ll  need the space. He wants to fill it with his presence!

Celebrating God’s Goodness,
Pastor Todd