Under Construction (Still Building This House of Prayer)

September 2, 2009 | 18 comments

They dug a hole in an Iowa cornfield, and lay a foundation. They erected two-by-fours, leaving rectangles for light to illuminate this house. They lifted trusses to the top, and we moved in six months later.

That’s how they built the house in which we live.

And that’s how we’re building this House of Prayer — one two-by-four at a time, with space to let Light shine in.


We weren’t always a House of Prayer — unless you count the mornings when I woke up with these words dripping from my lips: “Lord help me.” For that is all I knew to say.

I thought Houses of Prayer were made of marble, granite and Travertine — a series of thees and thous and thys. I thought Houses of Prayers were holy places made for the righteous, not dirty sinners like me.

If this was a House of Prayer, it was a dilapidated shack. And that’s why I didn’t invite Him in very often. I didn’t want Him to see the mess I’d made. But He showed up anyway.

That’s what finishing carpenters do, you know.

With nails and wood
and grace flowing down
a Carpenter
turned my rundown shack
into a holy place.

He heard the invitation — “Lord help me” — even when it was all I had. And He came to heal us, the sick and weary.

“Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’ ” — Mark 2:17


He’s still building this imperfect House of Prayer, and He’s using little carpenters to help.

In the pink glow of lamplight, I curl up next to Anna, wrapped in Princess Blankie. We close our eyes as we begin again, easing into this work on our House. Anna puts up another beam:

“Dear God, Thank you for this wonderful day,” she prays, like she always does. She thanks God for her cats, and our food, and a warm place to sleep, and for this Mommy laying beside her.

“Remember, Anna,” I tell her as she finishes, “You can pray to God any time, not just at supper or in bed. You can come to God wherever you are.”

She stopped me short: “Don’t say ‘we come to God.'”

“Why not?” I ask.

“Don’t say we come to Him because He’s always at us.”

“Oh, Anna, you are so right,” and I hug warm thanks and plant a kiss on little lips that speak Truth of a God who is here. Always here, always “at us” … in the midst of our mess — a holy mess ever in need of a finishing Carpenter.

Imperfect broken groans
from a broken heart,
God will accept.”

— John Mason


Yes Father God, You are “at us.” You step into this mess, and you hear the cries from this broken, rundown heart. Thank you for fixing what we’ve broken. You took every bit of it to the cross. You are the Finishing Carpenter, Lord. ‘It is finished,’ you cried out.

It is finished, indeed. We bow low and offer deepest thanks. Amen.

This is part of Ann Voskamp’s Walk With Him Wednesday series. We’ve been exploring our Pilgrimages to Prayer these last few weeks. This week’s topic: Building a House of Prayer. Would you consider joining us over there?

holy experience


Photos: Our home being built, one two-by-four at a time. Big rectangle overlooking our fields, letting light in …

A stained-glass window in our finished home, with a daily reminder to keep building this House of Prayer. (The stained-glass is a replica of a window in my childhood home.)

by | September 2, 2009 | 18 comments


  1. Arianne

    Jennifer~thanks for another good post! She is so right, we don't have to 'go' to him. He is always 'with' us! Thank you also for the encouraging note you left! You're right, I'm doing more than I realize, but somehow FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real) instills itself in me that it will never be enough. Thank you again for taking time to write what is upon your heart! You are a blessing to us followers!

  2. Leonard

    seen you at a friends place earlier, I've a friend in Iowa you might like to visit with. guys name is Joel Brueseke
    Best and thanks for sharing.

  3. Sarah Dawn

    Anna, your sweet truth blessed this mommy heart more than you could know.

    "Don't say we come to Him because He's always at us."

    I just needed this reminder today, wrapped in the innocent and pure faith of a child.

    Hugs to you from this missionary mommy,
    Sarah Dawn

  4. Catherine

    Such wisdom from your little one- He is always at us! Praise the Lord, that He is!
    Catherine 🙂

  5. Traci~ Ordinary Inspirations for the everyday wife, mommy, and homemaker

    Thank you so much for this post! Isn't it wonderful, this pilgrimage called Prayer!


  6. RCUBEs

    I love the innocent, truthful words from precious kids! Anna knew it! And what a beautiful reminder, awesome truth that penetrated my heart. God bless.

  7. Deidra

    Thank God for the Finishing Carpenter who is always "at us." What a blessing! Thanks.

  8. Joan

    beautiful post. thanks for sharing. i was blessed by it.

  9. Lyla Lindquist

    So when do Anna and Lydia get their own blogs?

    I figure, when they do, along with the amazing insight they will share, they'll drop in a little piece here and there that they picked up from their mom.

    They've got to be picking it up from somebody…

  10. Valerie Lynn

    What an beautiful post Jennifer. I loved what your daughter said, how precious and beautiful are the words of an innocent child! We surely can learn a lot from them.

    God bless and much love to you and yours.

  11. Jennifer

    What a smart little girl you have!! If only we all knew what she knows. Beautiful post!

  12. Jennifer

    Thank you for this snapshot into your home. I'm listening and learning for how to train up my children to be prayer warriors.

  13. Maria

    Hi Jennifer!
    What a dear child you have!
    … your analogies and word pictures really moved me. Thank you for your gift of words that bring us closer yet to our Creator.
    all the best to you and your family, Maria

  14. Warren Baldwin

    I like that thought, too, he is always with us. We may think we are searching for him, but he is always there. He lets us "find" him.

  15. Rick Mullen

    House of Prayer, yes.
    Temple of the Holy Spirit, Yes.
    When I go it on my own, the Finish Carpenter says "No, not like that!"
    I have to learn to pay attention to Him. Listen more, talk less.
    I stand with what tools I have, "O.K. What now Lord?"
    I love to listen to Him, through you and your wonderful sisters/brothers. Thanks, Rick

  16. elaine @ peace for the journey

    He's been "at me" today, and I am profoundly grateful for his pursuit.

    I want to build better in the days to come. Tell Anna I'm starting today.


  17. Beth E.

    What a precious daughter you have! Anna is so right…God is right here with us, every step of the way! This post has been such a blessing, Jennifer. Thank you…

  18. Daune

    His house-a house of prayer-our lives, His temple, filled with His very Presence…I am in awe of a God that would come near like this-to dust, splintered, and fill us with HIS glory, that the reflection of our life would be Him…at us!
    That makes the earth tremble and it makes me tremble to be carrying the majesty of eternal Life.
    Thank you, Jennifer, for being real.



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