A merry heart is good medicine … Proverbs 17:22
About five years ago, my husband Marty and I uprooted ourselves from our Michigan home of 30+ years and moved to Louisville, Kentucky. (If you missed that story, here it is:)
As the realtor was giving us the final tour of the house that was to be our new home, I realized the generous number of walk-in closets upstairs. I suspect that with the lack of a third-story attic, off-season items are kept upstairs in these storage areas with sloping ceilings just under the roof. As I stepped into one, I realized that while it was awkward standing in this closet, one could kneel quite easily. I immediately knew that I wanted this space for my “war room!”
“Can I have this closet?!” I begged Marty. Seeming somewhat amused, he said magnanimously, “You may have it.”
In case you’ve never seen the movie “War Room,” the concept is that a place where one goes to pray (a.k.a. “prayer closet”) is comparable to the room where the commanders of the armed forces gather to plan their battle strategies. We are in a spiritual war, and the enemy (Satan) is attacking us – overtly or subtly – every day. The only way to battle this powerful, unseen enemy is on our knees. Prayer connects us to God – our Commanding Officer – and gives us the knowledge, wisdom, and discernment to deal with whatever the forces of evil may throw at us on any given day. I’ve seen evidence that prayer impacts people and events in other parts of the world, as well. So, prayer is serious business, and I have plenty of stories of dramatic answers to my prayers. But today I’m keeping it light.
Our enemy will do anything and everything to keep us from engaging in the battle. In my case, the opposition I face on a daily basis is a distractable mind. (Can you say, “Adult ADD“?) I need a place to get my mind away from the world occasionally and do battle.
I don’t go to the War Room every day. I don’t want to get to the point where I think of prayer as limited to a certain location. I can and do pray walking, sitting by the fireplace, driving, riding a bike, or kayaking. But this prayer closet is one sure place to get away from the distractions downstairs. I can close the door, light a candle, quiet my mind (as much as I can quiet this mind), focus my eyes on the cross hanging on the wall, and pray softly but out loud, so I hear myself and stay on track. Sometimes my focus is on the maps on the wall, showing areas of persecution and need, with specific prayer requests. (I have written posts about some of these global answers to prayer, which have been nothing short of miraculous.)
Recently I was having a hard time focusing, and I had no one to blame but myself. No one was home to distract me, but still there were plenty of things to get my mind off track, namely, things in my own mind!
I noticed I was out of Kleenex, so I ran to get a refill, in case I was going to get emotional.
I then heard the radio on downstairs and ran down to turn it off.
While I was there, I turned off the ringer on my phone and made sure it was recharging.
I figured I’d better turn off the coffee pot, too …
(I was starting to get annoyed.)
FINALLY! I was settling in, candle lit, ready to approach the Throne of God … And my mind came up with one more thought …
The front door isn’t locked.
In Michigan this wouldn’t be a big deal, as our place is in the “boonies.” But the crime rate here had been climbing, and I was a helpless (haha) elderly woman alone with nothing to defend myself with except a couple of brass candelabras and a menorah.
Oh Lord, I prayed. Please help me to focus. You know how easily I’m distracted by things like that ...
I was interrupted by the scurry of little feet overhead.
… And THAT! I added, utterly frustrated.
Another scurry of feet. And another. There was a game of tag going on just a few feet over my head!
Suddenly I got the joke. I began to laugh. And laugh. And LAUGH, feeling the stress and frustration with myself melting away. I’m pretty sure God was laughing with me.
Yes, my Creator gets me. He knows all about my distractions. And just as I was confessing and complaining to Him – probably taking myself way too seriously – He sends me a punchline:
He was reminding me that, no, I’m not perfect, never will be in this life, and I don’t have to be. Jesus has this. Yes, prayer is serious business, but God will somehow handle it, even with my flaws and struggles. And there are times it’s OK to laugh, especially at myself. It keeps me humble. And happy.
So, I pray when I can, focus as much (->SQUIRREL!<-) as I can. I try my best to follow the path the Lord has laid out for me, keeping short accounts with Him and others. I aim to forgive anyone and everyone – including myself. Jesus gave His life so we can be forgiven and free people, and as such, we are free to be happy, and yes, to enjoy a good laugh now and then.
Prayer: Lord, Your Word says You rejoice over us with singing, with a shout of joy. Thank You for all the ways we can express joy, too, including laughter. You know we need it. You get us. Help us not to take ourselves too seriously. In Jesus’ name, Amen.