Today we have another method to help us reach our Father. Ann Voskamp’s post on Shelter brings us to know that our homes should be homes of prayer. To read the entire post please go to Holy Experience. Ann has a beautiful site with pictures and connections to books and people. She will warm your heart and stir your soul. I have read this post again and again. My prayer life is not there yet. I have a ways to go to make my house a “house of prayer”.
Here is a method of using the word Shelter to help us pray. It is an edited version of her post from Friday, June 25, 2010 posted here with her permission. I encourage you to read the entire post – her pictures inspire as much as her words.
From Ann Voskamp’s Holy Experience
“It is written,” he said to them, ” ‘My house will be a house of prayer‘” (Luke 19:46).
Christ dwells in the houses of prayer.
I never stop renovating.
Seven Ways to Build a House of Prayer: SHELTER
1. S — Short
Simply pray short prayers. Prayers need not be long, hot winds blowing restless.Martin Luther, who prayed on average two hours a day, counseled: “The fewer the words, the better the prayer.”
Short Prayers of the Bible
* The publican’s prayer: “God be merciful to me a sinner!”
* The prayer of the thief on the cross: “Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom!”
* Peter’s prayer: “Lord, save me!” (Mt. 14:30)
* David’s prayer: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight” (Ps. 19:14)
So we echo her praise and focus on small successes: “With the help of the Lord, I’ve all the laundry away….” “With the help of the Lord, bread’s in the oven….”
*And when the house of prayer tilts with chaos and noise, to grope for equilibrium in short praise prayer: “Children are a blessing from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3).
2. H– Helps
To build a SHELTER of prayer… I need helps. Saints who have gone before and give words to the experience of my flesh-and-cracked-bone-pilgrimage.
John Piper encourages (from his stirring sermon, Be Devoted to Prayer):
Pray with books. Through books like Operation World – a different country, and the cause of Christ in it, every day or two. What a powerful way to get a globe-sized heart and vision of God’s supremacy! … Take Valley of Vision, a book of Puritan prayers, and pray what great saints of the past have prayed. We are so foolish to think that left to ourselves we will see all the Bible has to say and all the needs we should pray about without the help of good books.
Books that give my stammering soul words, that lay on my prayer bench, throughout the house…
3. E –Establish A Place
A place for everything and everything in its place. True, prayer happens in the laundry room, in the shower, over the stove. Prayer is unfettered, without borders. And yet it needs an anchor, a chapel somewhere in the marketplace of life, a closet in which to commune. Prayer too needs a place.
Prayer bench beckons. An island retreat with Scripture, a journal, a candle, a prayer book and hymnal. A place to come away with Him. I often run my hands across the tin embossed words of mine. “In Everything Give Thanks.” We need a place to remember.
For more on creating your own prayer closet: A Place For Everything
4. L — Lists
In building a house of prayer, a SHELTER of prayer…. to write lists of names and needs and nations. I keep a sticky pad at the computer, so I can jot down a name and a need in an email, tuck the sticky note in my Bible or prayer journal. For a season, we had a calendar with the names of several families jotted into each day, and we prayed for those families at the close of our meals. We often have a list of names on dining room chalkboard, my mama always does on her kitchen wipeboard. Currently, the List room in my SHELTER of prayer sags, dilapidated, and needs serious attention.
5. T — Together
A house of prayer, SHELTER, is a place of communion with Father and a place of community, of communal prayer. Together, we pray before meals, and together we close every meal with true bread, reading Scripture collectively around the table, then close in prayer, one voice after another.
But come heavy gold of twilight, when they crawl under the covers, I sit in the hall on child’s old chair, and they curl under stitches, and I read our current read aloud and before the eyelids give way, mine, theirs, I slip in the bookmark and turn to The Power of a Praying Parent.
E– Establish a Time
A House of Prayer, a SHELTER, establishes its foundation on twin piers: an established PLACE and an established TIME. We can only pray without boundaries, only pray without ending, when we have established borders, time and place, in which to pray.
For a house to withstand hard winds, it requires hard stops. God’s people have always prayed with hard stops — fixed hour prayer. At a fixed hour David prayed, Daniel too bowed in prayer at set times, like Peter and John and the Early Christians. When the clock struck a certain hour, those hard after God made a hard stop.
Everyone bent a hard knee and prayed. Hard stops make us rise soft-hearted.
I am learning to make hard stops. Three times a day — 9, 12, 6 — to make a complete stop and pray. It’s not long (Short!): A Psalm. The Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’s Creed: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Mt. 22:36-39)
Establishing a time establishes Who is the priority.
7. R– Reminder
Hours, tasks, work distracts and I forget that the purpose of this day, my work, is to build a house of prayer, and not erect an idol. Like God-followers of old, I am in need of reminders.
I wear the reminders.
“Symbols on your hands:” one ring, silver braided.
The strands, they remind me of Avodah: it’s all worship.
The strands, they remind me of a one-piece-life: it’s all God.
When I finger the ring, I’m reminded to weave that kind of life… to keep praying, to keep folding my life into God’s, to wrap the strings of today around All Glory and Holiness.
I write the reminders on the doorframes.
We build a house of prayer by writing prayer on the doorframes, the walls, the rooms of the house. Verse by my sink, art that turns the heart, clock chime tuned to call me to the hard stop and prayer communion, they become the architect of a home wanting Jesus to come dwell in the center.
Lord, cause us not to work to consume or to climb, but to engage in the true work of building houses of prayer, places where You are at Home. Come, find Shelter here, where we find Shelter in You….
To Build a SHELTER of Prayer:
E-Establish a Place
E– Establish a Time