The Prayer Closet

God shakes the footprints of the sea,

The oceans of the clouds;

Darkness trembles, hailstones flee

At his resounding sound.

He carves crevasses into earth

And tree-trunks slowly bleed;

He weaves the seasons to new birth

First with a dying seed.

A spear has pierced through his own soul,

A crown of thorns his brow;

He breaks apart to make the whole

And he shall show me how.

And so he plants thorns in my side

To teach sufficient grace

And rips away the shame of pride

To shine his radiant face.

Deep darkness is his canopy

Yet he is thick with light;

He spreads the vast, dense galaxy

That he might shine more bright.

~ “Power Perfected in Weakness” by Matthew Pullar (After William Cowper’s “Light Shining Out of Darkness”)

I have very plain tastes when it comes to rooms for prayer, preferring stark simplicity to anything that might distract me from talking to and listening for God.

When I was first diagnosed with bipolar, we were living in a house that had a very narrow space adjacent to the master bedroom that we used primarily for storage. I set up a desk in this room where I placed my Bible and my journal. I spent much time in there attempting to pray. My mind was basically mush, however, and I wound up mostly letting out sighs and groans, in the hope the Spirit would turn these into prayer.

Later, when I was serving as pastor in the Finger Lakes region of New York, I set up a prayer room at church that had a padded kneeling bench as well as a simple cross and candle on a side table. My prayers had been answered. I was back in ministry full-time and enjoying life as a husband and father. In this space I could express my gratitude to the One who had given me so much.

The prayer closet of my bipolar mind is a place where the small flame of a Christ candle shines light on God’s Word. The Word becomes here “a lamp for my feet” (to see where I am) and a “light for my path” (to see where I’m going). I keep a journal here to record my praise for all God has done and list my petitions for my heart’s desires. This is the place where I lift up sighs, moans, memories, cries and complains and I listen – carefully and prayerfully, confident God always responds in love.

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