When I was a teen-ager, I had a Saturday night sleep-over at my girlfriend Wendy’s house. The next morning, I was invited to go to church with her family. I couldn’t possibly go, because as a Jew, I thought you had to be “fa-pitzed” (fancy in appearance) to pray. Turns out, Wendy and her family did church “Sunday Casual.” In many religious communities folks put on their “Sunday Best” for the Sabbath. But that rule doesn’t apply to all. At our synagogue, on a Saturday Shabbat morning, you’ll find congregants “come as they are.” I’ve talked to people who stay away from services because they’re afraid they’ll be out of place in casual clothes. My Mom is still surprised every time she sees a woman wearing pants to synagogue. Anything goes.
Does God really care what I’m wearing when I pray? Should I be concerned to hold off on that prayer and get some clothes on, if I’ve just stepped out of the shower? Am I like the school child out of uniform, who isn’t giving it her all because I’m worried about how my clothes compare to those around me? My answer is no.
Of course, we should pray when we feel the need— regardless of what stage of dress or undress we’re in. Certainly, we shouldn't let our wardrobe decide whether or not to go to church. And yes, it honors God to reflect the holiness of the Sabbath by taking special care in what we wear. But it also honors God, to make prayer such a regular part of your life that praying in a t-shirt, jeans and flip-flops is just as natural as breathing. Laura and I were praying together this morning in synagogue. She’s wearing her workout clothes on her way to the gym and she fit right in. She got the message from a great sports advertiser and applied it to prayer as well as fitness: Just Do It.