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
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.
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.)