I wrote this when my kids were small…
“Jesus] went up on mountainside and sat down. Turning to his disciples, he began to teach them… “go into your room, close the door and pray.”
Matthew 5:1, 6:6 NIV
A prayer closet. A concept my preacher taught me years ago. A place to have a quiet time. A time set aside for just you and the Lord. I’ve heard of people using their dining room tables, gardens, in-home offices or bedrooms. Before I had kids, I faithfully went outside on our deck and prayed. If you would’ve asked me then, I never imagined my prayer closet would change from looking at the beautiful sunrises to the tile on the bathroom wall but after four kids I’ve learned that we can approach God anytime…anywhere…
My children, like most, seem to need every second of my attention. I’ve found the only time I’m able to get away is when I use the restroom. One particular day I woke up to the screams of my kids. The fighting had already begun. Dread consumed me. I knew it was going to be bad. Sure enough, by mid-morning, I was frazzled. I did the only thing I knew to do. I retreated into the bathroom and balanced on the ledge of the bathtub. I dropped my head, clasped my hands together and prayed.
For months I had been praying to find a place to spend time alone with God. I missed my prayer closet. Almost instantly my brain started turning. I looked up at God and smiled. It was so obvious. Since the only time I have for myself is in the bathroom, why not take advantage it? That was the moment my bathroom turned into my prayer closet.
I started by taking a few extra minutes, then quickly grew longer. Luckily it only takes me about thirty minutes to get ready in the morning. Extending this to an hour was not a problem. The kids just thought Mommy needed more time to become beautiful. Which, in reality, she did.
I stashed a Bible in the vanity drawer. I converted the edge of the bathtub into a kneeling bench. The bath mat as my kneeling pad. I’ve often thought if only I only had a mini-fridge and a coffee pot…
It is a very important fact that Christ went out alone and prayed. If Jesus, the Son of God had to do this, how much more important is it for us to do the same? Our concern should not be where the closet is, but that you have one and you use it, daily. Praying is communicating with God. It is how we build a relationship with Jesus Christ. There are no concrete ways to pray, but we have the unwavering words of Psalm 34:15, (NIV) that says; The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayers.
One summer afternoon I was in my closet. I knelt before the bathtub. My knees fixed comfortably on the bathmat, my arms resting on the side of the tub, and my hands facing upward as I delightfully prayed to our Father. I heard a faint tap and a soft voice come through the door. It was my seven-year-old son. “Mommy? What are you doing?”
“What do you think, honey? I’ll be out in a minute.” I continued on with my prayer, knowing that God understands these little interruptions. I’m not sure how long it was after that but I finally emerged from the bathroom refreshed, revived and ready to tackle the rest of the day. I was startled to see my son sitting cross-legged on the floor in the hallway.
He looked up, his large hazel eyes narrowed. “What were you doing in there?”
I thought for a moment. “Going to the bathroom.” It seemed the easiest answer and it wasn’t a lie. I did go to the bathroom, only I had taken an extra fifteen minutes to pray.
“No, you weren’t,” my son firmly stated. “I looked under the door and saw your toes.”
I chuckled. He had to have stuck his face to the carpet and laid prostrate to see what I was doing. I knelt down, gently laid my hand on his back and smiled. “I was praying.”
“Oh.” He smiled then ran off.
I laughed, wondering what must’ve been going on in his little head when all he could see were my knees and toes pressing into the bathmat. Then I saw a vision. I pictured my son, years later using my unconventional prayer closet as an illustration. He explained that with four children his mother had desperately sought a place to pray and finally found one. He pointed out how she had unknowingly taught him the importance of finding a certain place to pray. Prior to that day, he had always assumed she just had trouble going potty.
I had the chance to go to camp this weekend with some kids and the thrill of the weekend is zip lining. All the kids were harnessed up, ready to go. One was very apprehensive. He was scared. I could relate. I’m petrified of heights but I have zipped a few times. Once you get over the fear, it’s really fun.
This frightened little man walked all the way up to the tower, climbed the stairs, looked down and said, “No way.” He climbed back down and walked back to the base. Looking up at me with his sad eyes, tears flowing, he said, “It’s just too scary. I couldn’t jump off.”
I agreed with him. “I know it’s really, really scary but after you take that first step it’s really, really fun.” He wasn’t buying it. I started for the tower.
When I got up to the tower my heart pounded. I climbed the stairs and the arguments in my mind start. Will the harness hold me? Will the line snap? Will I fall? It’ll be fun. I’ll be fine. I could die.
The mini war was interrupted by the guy on the second landing. He asked me to climb up those last five stairs to clip onto the line. I will admit, that is the worse part. You’re on this little platform. You have nothing to hold on to and it’s a straight shot to the ground. I was scared enough and I didn’t need to stand up there waiting my turn, thinking about what I was about to do. It would scare me too much. I told him I’d rather wait until the lines were clear. I prefer to walk up those last stairs, clip on the line and zip.
I clipped. I zipped. It was a blast. The kids all cheered and adults snapped pictures.
Zip lining is like a ride with Jesus. You harness up, trusting the guy who put it on. You clip onto the line, trusting it will hold you. The hardest part is stepping off the platform. If you look down and around, you may just chicken out but when you trust, the ride is a blast!
I thought of Peter stepping out of the boat. He stood on the edge of the boat, looking around, the wind blowing, wondering, Can I walk on water? Will I sink? Will Jesus help me? Jesus told him to, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Peter heard Jesus, suppressed those fears, and stepped out. Can you imagine the ride? Walking on the water with the wind blowing around you. How cool would that be? Yes, he looked around, he was afraid. He took his eyes off Jesus and started to sink but Jesus saved him. And for a moment he walked, however brief, and it had to be amazing.
When Jesus calls us to do something, the hardest part is taking that step off the platform. Trusting that God has it all under control and the line will hold. Once you let go, lean back in the harness, and enjoy the ride because it is amazing. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more that all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Eph. 3:20)
Don’t waste any more time standing on the platform looking down. Clip, zip and enjoy the ride.
Last Friday my oldest daughter fell at college and broke her ankle really bad. I mean, really bad. Two broken bones, plus two fractures in the fibula, and dislocated it. Because it happened Friday afternoon, they told us she would have to wait until the morning for surgery.
We got her admitted to the hospital and waited for the doctor to approve pain meds. She was in a lot of pain. I think it was more painful because it was dislocated. After a horribly painful night mixed with tears and morphine, the nurse came in and explained how the Ortho Surgeon planned his day. He would rate the breaks and then do surgery accordingly, worse goes first and so on. We didn’t want my daughters to be the worst but we sure wanted her in there getting operated on first.
The PA came in, checked things out, explained how it would work then left. The nurse came back in and asked if he told us the order of the surgeries. Since he didn’t, she explained that the surgeon was going to do a hip replacement first. Then it was she wasn’t sure who was next. It was between my daughter and a little girl next door who had a pretty bad brake on her elbow.
My daughter, although still in excruciating pain, looked up at the nurse and she said, “You know, you can give me more pain meds and go ahead and let the little girl go first.”
Tears filled my eyes. I couldn’t believe that she was willing to sacrifice, to lay in excruciating pain longer so this little girl, this total stranger, could go into surgery first. I wanted to scream no, take my baby first but I didn’t. Instead I stood by, a proud mom.
They took my daughter next. Doctors go by worse case not sacrifice. But my daughter showed what true sacrifice it. Her willingness to endure more pain to help a total stranger reminded me of Jesus and His ultimate sacrifice.
He knew the pain He was going to go through on the cross, yet, He was willing to do it anyway. Jesus knew us, my daughter didn’t know this little girl, but she was willing to take the pain longer so this little girl didn’t have to suffer anymore. Amazing.
As we go through our daily lives, let’s keep our eyes open and see who we can be Jesus to others.
I will admit to needing to lose a few pounds, twenty would put me where I want to be and make me feel better but I never thought God would use my weight and a precious preschooler to teach me about the tongue.
I was teaching the preschoolers and I had one of the four-year-old girls came up to me and gave me a big hug. As I basked in the hug, she patted my stomach, looked up at me with her gorgeous eyes and said, “You have a big tummy.”
I looked down at her, “I know have a big tummy but I’m exercising and trying to make it smaller.”
She must’ve sensed that maybe it wasn’t the best things she could’ve said because she looked up at me with a sadness on her face. All of a sudden, her face lit up and she smiled from ear to ear. She said, “Maybe you have a baby in there!” with an excitement that was almost contagious. Almost.
Everybody loves a baby, right? Maybe not when you don’t have one, you’re a tad overweight and almost fifty. I did a little worse about my “fat tummy” but I knew she was just trying to make it better. I laughed and told her, “Nope, no baby.”
I got to thinking about how many times we say something, sometimes without even thinking, and it comes across wrong. Then instead of really thinking about it, we say something else to make it better but in actual, we make it worse.
God reminds us to watch our tongue and to guard our mouths to keep us from calamity (Prov. 21:23) but He also tells us in Ps. 37:30 that The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just.
She spoke to me in wisdom. In all honesty, my tummy is fat, yet she spoke it in such love that I could still laugh about it and take it to heart and do something to change. Let’s always watch what we say and when we do speak, make sure we speak in love.
We had an exciting evening at church tonight. This semester, I am teaching early childhood. I miss my older 1st – 5th grade kids but I know the importance of them learning from other teachers then just me. Despite missing them, I love the little ones and sure do have fun with them.
One of the things I’ve always done with little ones, even back when I taught preschool, is I want to teach them to pray. It’s very easy and fun. Right before snack, when they are all sitting down, we pray for our food. I like to get on my knees, I think it’s important to be on their level and for them to see this prayer posture in an adult. I go around to each child and ask them if they’d like to pray.
There is nothing more precious then their prayers. Some pray serious prayers for their parents and their pets, some tell family secrets, and some just make you want to laugh.
One boy likes to pray in his head so we get to him he says, “I want to pray in my head.” I remind him to say amen when he’s done. We all bow our heads and sit quietly, well, as quiet as fourteen preschoolers can and then he shouts, “Amen.”
I had two new kids at the start of January. When it came to their turn to pray the first night, they said they didn’t want to pray. I assured them that it was okay, not every wants to.
I was talking to their mother after church and I was telling her how we pray in class and how much I love to hear the kids pray.
She said, “My kids didn’t they?”
I said, “No, but that’s okay, not all kids want to.”
She said, “We come from a church background where that’s just not normally done.”
Again, I told her it was okay, I just like to give them the chance if they want. We chatted some more then went on our way.
Tonight, three weeks and three classes later, I asked the two if they wanted to pray. Brother said he would if sister did first. I looked at the sister and she nodded and started praying. I grinned deeply as she prayed then he prayed, thanking God for the little things like hearing a preschooler’s precious prayers.