“We live the way we pray and we pray the way we live.”Louis Evely, French Spiritual Writer
Our homes reflect who we are and what is important to us. If I walked through your house for the first time, I could get to know more about you from photos, décor, and other items. I would get a feel for your style and what you value. Would I be able to tell if you were a Christian if I toured your home?
I’m staying in an Airbnb right now, and I could tell that the owner was probably Catholic from the décor. There is a beautiful image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and a cross encircled by three Mexican folk art metal hearts, the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Hearts, in the Living Room. Sure enough, when we met the owner, she told us that she loved to pray the Rosary and shared her devotion to the Blessed Mother by walking us over to the image of Guadalupe.
Having religious art on our walls and articles around our homes are beautiful reminders of our faith. While these things create an atmosphere, I believe we need to have more than a cross on a wall or a statue of St. Francis in our garden. We need a space set aside for prayer.
The first thing that convicted me to create a prayer space in my home was the book, Appointment with God by Michael Scanlan, T.O.R. It’s an informative, quick read with excellent advice about prayer from a holy priest.
Fr. Mike’s chapter on setting lays out the scriptural and practical elements of how our surroundings impact our prayer.
“He was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.'”Mark 11:1
Jesus had a certain place to pray. Furthermore, Mark 1:35 says that Jesus arose early and prayed in a solitary place. He modeled for us what to do – have a specific, quiet place to be alone and pray. A place that we can make holy is what we need to foster our prayer or conversation with God.
Fr. Mike shared that while he prayed in the Chapel often, he also prayed in his room. He had an old, barely functioning lounge chair – but it was his holy place. When he sat down, his whole body said, “It’s prayertime.” His repeated use of that chair for prayer made his heart, mind, soul, and body all ready to pray when he sat in it.
This approach is simple, and that is what I love. If you search for prayer space on Google, you’ll discover some candlelit, designer nooks. Who doesn’t like lovely areas? I’m not saying that your prayer space shouldn’t be nice, but I also don’t think you need a whole room that you need to spend $$$ on redesigning into a meditation station. I’m going to lay out what I consider the basics, which you then can bring your own flair to.
PRAYER SPACE ATMOSPHERE
I recommend an orderly space. Prayer can bring up a lot of mental distractions, so you don’t need a load of chaos to tempt you even more. It can be a corner of a room, a closet, a nook – wherever you have adequate space, order, and some lighting by which you can read.
Use a quiet space. Would you hold an important meeting where you could hear the TV, kids arguing, someone talking on the phone, or whatever loud background noise your home has to offer? Find a space where you and the Boss can have some quiet time in peace.
Just as our body language relays our nonverbal communication, our posture reveals something about our prayer. Why do we sit, stand, and kneel in certain parts of the Mass? Our different positions in prayer are meaningful, as our bodies reveal our submission to God through bowing, kneeling, and lying prostrate.
Prayer spaces do not require a kneeler; a nice chair will suffice. But gosh, I love this “meditation bench” — it’s compact and hand-crafted by a fellow Austinite, Alexander Lohn of Alessandro & Maria.
Or maybe you prefer a carpet where you can sit or lay prostrate and feel more grounded. Whatever tells your body, “it’s prayertime” will work. What matters most is the posture or attitude of your heart.
Many articles express different facets of our faith. Some will resonate more than others, but I consider these some of the staples plus a few extras.
- Candle (wax or battery operated)
- Holy Water and/or Holy Oil
- Holy images of the Trinity, Mary, the saints, icons, etc.
- Prayer cards
- Statues of Mary, the saints, and angels
- If helpful, you can create a photo board to display pictures of those you are praying to serve as a visual reminder.
Want to see the prayer space I have in my home office? View it here.
PRAYER SPACE MATERIALS
There are lots of enriching spiritual books out there, but you can’t forego the source – the Bible. The Bible reveals the truth and shows us who God is, His love for us, and how He calls us to live.
I love to journal during my prayertime, as it gives me a reference point. I can look back and see struggles, prayer requests, words I received from the Lord, and how God has worked in my life.
Here’s a couple of my other favorite reading materials to take to prayer
· Christian Prayer: Liturgy of the Hours
· I Believe in Love by Jean C. J. d’Elbée
· The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A’Kempis
· Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence by Father Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure (Author), Blessed Claude de la Colombière
· Current devotionals I’ve been perusing: Be Still by Lisa Brenninkmeyer, and The Confident Woman by Joyce Meyer
The most critical relationship in life is the one we have with God. The most effective way to nurture that relationship is through daily prayer. Having a designated area for prayer is that reminder and space in our home to foster that intimate time with the Lord. It is more than just a pretty cross and few images on the walls; it’s a consecrated area to raise our hearts to commune with those in Heavenly realms. I hope you will set aside some room for the Lord, both in your home and your heart, so you can live the way you pray and pray the way you live.