Prayer in the Front or Back Room?

I found this quote by Matthew Lickona, author of Swimming with Scapulars, posted at Godspy:

“To submit themselves to Christ.” Everyone must bend his or her will, but this desire to clean up one’s own spiritual mess seems a more masculine failing. From a distance, the danger is easy to see: “It’s my problem, I’ll deal with it,” leading to, “It’s my soul, I’ll sanctify it.” No, you won’t.

The problem is maintaining enough distance to keep that in mind. While in college, I read about a vision St. Jerome had of the child Jesus. Jesus asked Jerome why he hadn’t given Him everything. Jerome was mystified. “Lord,” he protested, “I have devoted my life to your service. I have given you all my works, all my love, all my praise, everything.” “No,” Jesus replied, “You haven’t given me your sins.” Give it over, offer it up. Be clay. Submit.

I am not sure if it is a “masculine failing”. I am tempted to say that it is more the failing of our false sense of perfectionism, especially when we try to apply it towards ourselves with God.

I am reminded of something I read that questioned how we pray. Do you pray in the front or back room of the house in your heart? The front room of most houses is the room where most guests are received, the living room or parlor as it was called in the old days. The front room is where the best furniture is placed. This room is kept clean, neat, and presentable. On the other hand, the back room, like my bedroom, is messy. There are clothes lying on a chair if not on the floor. The bed is not always made. A pile of small boxes sit in the corner. Books lay around here and there, unshelved. Outsiders never see the back room.

The same goes with our prayer. Do we try to meet God on our terms in the front room of our heart, where we have things all tidy and neat? Do we try to only show God our best side? OR, do we pray in the back room of our heart, where life is messy and untidy? Broken pieces of our life are laying about here and there, raw, naked, and exposed. Do you show God your perfect side, your good side, the side you are proud of? Or do you let God see your imperfections, your dark side, the side you’re a shamed of?

Which room allows God to transform us? In which room do we relinquish control and hand it over to God? Which room are you afraid to be in yourself? Which room requires you to trust God?

So, which room of your heart do you find yourself praying in, the front room or back room? Be honest with yourself. Be honest with God.

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