A Homely Prayer for Those Who Lack

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The house of my soul is too small, O Lord, for you to enter. 
---Make it more spacious by your coming. 
It lies in ruins.
---Rebuild it, O Lord. 
Some things are to be found here which will offend your gaze. 
---I confess this to be so and know it well. 
But who will clean my house? 
---To whom but Yourself can I cry? 
Cleanse me of my hidden sins, O Lord, and restore in me a clean heart. 

    While doing ministry in Myanmar in July, our team of five ended each night with a series of call-and-response prayers. It was incredibly awkward at first. All of us sat uncomfortably around the hotel bedroom and attempted to stave off jet-lag, while we drudged up some semblance of emotion to the prayer that somebody (who knows who) some-time ago (who knows when) had already written. 

    It was just my own wooden heart, but reading the prayer of someone else felt contrived and unbeneficial, especially when our days felt so overwhelming.

    Then this little one came along. By that night we had travelled 25 hours around the world and been in Myanmar for two full and active days. Our team was tired. I was tired. And honestly, I didn't want to teach the next day. Somehow, I think God knew this and perfectly planted this prayer for that very night, with it's very tender and exposed theme.

    One hears the author almost embarrassed by the shape of his/her soul. No, Lord, it's too small. No, Lord, it's ruined. No, Lord, there are things here you shouldn't see. No, Lord, it's dusty and dirty. But in the prayer, the Presence and coming of God into the mess seems almost an unstoppable force. And yet, you are coming and making it spacious. And yet, you are rebuilding it. And yet, you cleanse me. And yet, You are still the only one I can turn to.

    That night I felt as "meh" as ever, even though I was on mission in a foreign country! But I found comfort in these contrite words. I was embarrassed, but God didn't care. He was just asking me to show up and let Him in.

    When we too are ashamed by our lack of wanting, we can turn to the words of others who were guided by the Spirit to lead us into deeper prayer. The prayers of the saints before us can direct us into honest fellowship with our Lord when our own souls are shriveled and our zeal to minister is painfully low. Thankfully, no matter where we are, we serve a God who comes into our lowly hearts and makes His dwelling there.

Laura Phillipson