Straight from a Clean Heart
By Lisa Elliott
Recently, at a ladies Bible study, we were discussing priorities and prayer. I shared with the ladies that whenever I want to take my prayer life to another level, I clean my house. That’s right. As I clean my physical house, I clean my spiritual house—top to bottom.
This kind of cleansing first began back when I had four children underfoot all under the age of 5 ½. In those days it was hard to keep my house clean. It seemed there was always a little someone following behind me undoing what I’d done, quicker than I’d done it. One day I shared my frustration with a friend. In that same conversation, she shared her desire for a cleaning lady. That was it! A little extra income would be helpful! So I agreed to clean her house. I figured it would give me the sense of satisfaction and accomplishment I needed, not to mention a sweet escape from my own mess. My friend called me her “Angel of Cleanliness” which inspired me to call my small business, Heaven Scent.
I was surprised as I cleaned how it helped clear my mind. To add a deeper sense of purpose to my cleaning I prayed for the family who lived in that house. That transferred into each home I cleaned. And in turn, gave me a whole new approach whenever I got to cleaning my own. It formed a practice that I carry on to this day. Here’s what it looks like.
My “clean-up” begins with a scriptural prayer as I gather my household cleansers and pull out my broom, mop, and vacuum cleaner. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV).
Front Entrance: My prayer is that everyone who crosses the threshold into my home would experience the peace and presence of Jesus. Therefore, I have a household blessing strategically above the front door that a neighbour gifted me in our first home. “God rest His love upon this door. Bless this house forevermore.” First impressions are lasting. Therefore, it’s important that my front entry gives not only a warm welcome, but an impression of who I am and what’s important to me. For instance, I have a cross-stitch I crafted years ago of the Virtuous Woman (Prov. 31) displayed front and centre. I made it during a time in my life when my priorities were out of whack. And it serves as a constant reminder to me every time I walk through the door of some profound impressions the Lord laid upon my heart that are still prevalent today.
Living Room: The living room is typically where I spend time every morning with my husband and with the Lord before the day gets going. It’s the room where I host guests, Bible studies, meetings, and special gatherings. As I fluff pillows and dust the furniture I pray that those who gather there will experience peace, laughter, and sweet fellowship as they make themselves at home in my house. This room has an area carpet. So I make sure to sweep anything out from under it that might have accumulated so that this room would also be one where we can be honest with ourselves, with others, and with the Lord. It’s also where we have our piano; reminding me that I want conversation in this room to be a sweet sound in the ears of the Lord.
Bedrooms: Each bedroom has a different prayer focus. For instance, in the master bedroom I pray for our marriage. As I make our bed, I “cover” every aspect of our marriage and our ministry as we continue to grow and invest in our relationship. In my kids’ rooms I pray for their sleep, that it would be deep and restful. I pray for their peace of mind, their protection, personal concerns, their friendships and activities, as well as their private, quiet time. As I vacuum under beds I pray that God would expose anything that is being hidden. Praying that the peace of God that surpasses our comprehension will guard the hearts and minds of each one as we sleep and head into each new day (Phil. 4:6-7).
Guest Room/Office: Otherwise known as my “Joy Room” (as mentioned in a previous blog post) is, in fact where I am as I write this blog. As I tidy and clean here I pray for clarity of thought, productivity, blessing, encouragement, and joy to permeate my life and flow into the lives of others.
Kitchen: The kitchen is a very significant room in my house because food was important to Jesus; the Bread of Life. I thank Him for the daily bread and provision He offers. I reflect on the meals Jesus shared while here on earth; at a wedding feast, in the home of his friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, on the beach with His disciples, feeding multitudes, and even now preparing a great feast for those who love Him. My prayer in my kitchen is typically, “May my words be full of grace, seasoned with salt, and tasteful” (Col. 4:6). I spend time surveying my cupboards and refrigerator to take inventory of items that may have expired. As I explore, I also take stock of what I’ve got stored in my heart, knowing that it’s out of the abundance of my heart that my mouth will speak (Matt. 7:24-27). On oven-cleaning days, I roll up my sleeves and ask the Lord what tasks He may have lined up for me. As I clean the counters and wash dishes I pray for those who have or will eat meals I’ve provided.
Dining Room: The dining room table is an extension of my Kitchen and is where conversation, connection and communication take place. It’s the gathering place. As I sweep and mop the floor beneath the dining room table, I pray for everyone who has and will dine with me.
Bathroom: This is the room I spend the most time in when I’m praying through my house. This is where the deep cleansing takes place—praying as I clean the shower and bathtubs that the Lord would cleanse me from head to toe. The sink reminds me of the importance of having clean hands and a pure heart (Ps. 24:3-6). Polishing the chrome and mirrors, I’m reminded that I want to be a reflection of my Saviour and grow to look more like Him. Finally, there’s the toilet, where I sanitize and flush out bad attitudes, negative thoughts, and anything hindering my personal health and growth.
Family Room: Our family room is perhaps the most obvious of my prayer focus. I spend time in this room thanking God for my family—both on heaven and on earth (Eph. 3:15) as I dust the pictures situated around the room. In our present house, our family room is in the basement. So as I’m vacuuming and dusting around this space I pray that the Lord would be our sure foundation so that when the storms of life roll in, our house, built upon the Rock, will stand firm (Matt. 7:24-27).
Storage room: Inevitably as I clean, there is something that I need to put away or retrieve from my storage room. I want to make sure there’s nothing there that is damp, musty, or cluttering up too much space. It’s there that I’m prayerfully reminded of the necessity to keep short accounts, to not store up any bitterness or resentment in my heart. And to toss anything that would cause a stench rather than the aroma of Christ in my life.
Well now that I’ve given you an upfront and personal tour of my home, I’ve got to run. It’s cleaning day!
…blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.…Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow…Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me… Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me (excerpts from Ps. 51, NIV).
P.S. A great resource that you may want to consider reading which has inspired me through the years is My Heart, Christ’s Home by Robert Boyd Munger.
About this Contributor:
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Contact Lisa at: firstname.lastname@example.org