Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Prayer lost in the clutter

Yesterday I sat in the chair where I most like to pray ... only this time I couldn't. It wasn't a crisis of faith, just a crisis of clutter.

After clearing some folded clothes off the chair, I settled into prayerful silence. But the rest of the room shouted chaos and neglect, and no matter how I tried, I couldn't shut it out. The lack of order was as noisy as a jackhammer, as distracting as a buzzing mosquito.

Now, I confess to being an indifferent housekeeper with a high tolerance for disorder, so this loss of serenity surprised me. It got me to thinking about the ways we fill our lives with clutter -- not just things, but tasks and projects and obligations and habits -- and how that clutter keeps us from being with God. We try to squeeze our spiritual life into the cracks between mounting piles of acquisitions and accomplishments. And then we wonder why God is so hard to find.

I went to a somewhat more orderly room to finish praying, and part of that prayer was an acknowledgment of my need for clear priorities and sacred simplicity.

Then I spent the rest of the evening cleaning the room that was too noisy even when silent.

Do you find that the clutter of your life pushes out God? What makes prayer difficult for you?


Danbo59 said...

I can't fault you, Jane. The same distractions plague me during prayer. A disorderly environment, voices in the background, worries that seem to pervade my thoughts.

I try to remember that, as in tithing to our Church, we must give God the first fruits of our labor. So I find a quiet spot and close my eyes. I try to remember that no worries, no joy comes before God. He is first, the rest follows.

It's such a simplistic solution. Unfortunately the application is not equally simple to perform.

It's sort of like trying to put together a child's toy before Christmas. "So easy, a five-year-old can put it together." The problem is there is never a five-year-old around when you need one.

Which leads me to a solution that doesn't always present itself, but when it does works every time. Pray with someone! That never fails to keep my attention.

Anonymous said...

this is a lesson I am still trying to learn :)

thanks for your column :)

Anonymous said...

It's hard to just all at once begin a meditative mind. It's harder when there are more serious things happening in my life than the obviously mundane. This mantra helps ...

I love you
I'm glad to be alive
I am animal
I am nature

I may get to the third line and my mind would drift to other things. I catch myself drifting and start, again, from the beginning.

Anonymous said...

Amen. I think the noise of the city is an impediment to the fellowship God wants with us, and that man has grown accustomed to shutting out God with noise.

Why? So we can be our own God's.

The still small voice is speaking to us, if only we would listen.