Prayer, Plain and Simple

Again, I won’t need to work out in the gym today: I’ll be shoveling snow.  On Tuesday and Wednesday St. Paul got hit with a load of snow from the first winter storm of the season. Once the storm tapered off I dug out the shovel and fired up the snow blower and cleared off our driveway. It took me an hour. The problem – yesterday 30 mile an hour winds blew through driving wind chills to -20 and three inches of snow back onto my driveway. Today, when I can grab an hour, I’ll be shoveling again.

That’s life. We dig out the weeds and they grow back. We clean the garage and it gets cluttered again. We vacuum the carpet and it gets dirty again. We confess our sins and then mess up again the next day. It’s true: if we don’t maintain our spaces, the filth and mess piles up. But even when we do our best, there’s never an end to the need for diligence. The menial labor of keeping things clean is a constant in our lives.

Honestly, this sometimes frustrates me. It often exhausts me. But I’ve been working lately to redeem the disciplines of cleaning up. I’ve been trying to use these times as a reminder to pray, and as a kind of template and parable for a certain kind of prayer. I constantly need to “clean up” my life because, in the course of living, I collect moral debris and clutter. So while I’m shoveling or cleaning the bathroom or washing dishes I use these times to remind myself to ask God to “clean” me. I take the chance to confess my sins, failings, fears, and weaknesses. Clean up work is never fun but it’s necessary and constant. I can have a double blessing by reminding me to pray.

“God, you made me to walk in order and purity and holiness. But I often fail to meet that destiny. As I clean toilets and wash clothes I turn to you and ask you to clean me and wash away the stains in my life. Just as my menial work never ends, so my reliance on you to keep me pure and right never diminishes. I need your labor in my life. Thank you for never tolerating clutter or compromise. In Jesus I pray…”

Check out the other “21 Ways to Pray” in a special Beliefnet devotional I’ve written. And as always, feel free to add in your own perspectives.

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