Several of my friends have, at one time or another, referred to having a dedicated area in their home for prayer. Some actually have a separate room as their private chapel.
I confess to being quite envious of this practice. My basement is finished and I suppose I could think of it as the catacombs and consecrate it as such. Apart from this, there’s really no satisfactory space I can set up for the sole purpose of prayerful recollection. At one time I was able to use a corner of my office as a little altar. One acquaintance (a religious sister, no less) gave me a look of horror when she heard this. “In your OFFICE?!” I inferred from her look of indignation that God let her know he was highly insulted.
In an earlier post or two I’ve expressed the discomfort I frequently feel regarding the quality of my prayer. Not having a dedicated place adds yet another element to my concern.
These thoughts were on my mind as I was on my way to the mall, pondering whether a furniture store might have something suitable to get me started – like a kneeler, for instance. Instead, my generous and faithful Muse started to speak to me.
She led me (Ignatian style) to the well where Jesus and that disreputable Samaritan woman were conversing. Disreputable she may have been, but she also had what I thought was a healthy concern about the right way to worship. Plus, she was smart enough to recognize that this unconventional man she was conversing with knew a thing or two about God-like matters. Bold as she was, she challenged Jesus:
“Our ancestors,” she said, “worshiped on this mountain; you people (Jews) say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”
[Another example of our natural tendency to compete with just about anyone over just about anything! We are so right; you are so wrong!]
Since this discussion had a bearing on my current dilemma regarding prayer space, I listened closely.
“Believe me, woman,” said Jesus, “the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. . . But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.” (John 4:21; 23-24)
Of all things! God, the eternal I AM, who is at all times and in all places, is indifferent as to where he is worshiped as long as we do so in Spirit (from the depth of our heart and soul) and in Truth (with sincerity and authenticity).
Time and time again, I’m amazed at how much less fussy God is about things we put great stock in. We’ve devised creative but rigid ways of praying by the numbers and, as described above, definite places for prayer to be done.
As for me, I have contented myself with the exceedingly unorthodox practice of praying while sitting in my living room, looking through the window at the trees, the sky and the birds. God listens to me here as readily as he might were I in a particular church or room in my house. Maybe that’s because he has made me — and you — his temples, and has made his home with us there. Let us adorn it.