“Please, let us make a little walled upper chamber and let us set a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; and it shall be, when he comes to us, that he can turn in there.”2 Kings 4:10
I read a priest’s tweet a while ago that said if you can’t pray in your room then you can’t pray in a chapel. I felt that.
This semester, I decided I wanted to be more intentional about my prayer life. I decided I wanted to pray every day, and I did that by waking up early to pray in the Newman Center’s chapel before my classes. I really loved spending 30 minutes or a holy hour there every morning. It was the highlight of my day, but now because of the pandemic, I can’t go to the Newman Center anymore. I can’t go to public Masses, and I rarely get to pray at my church’s oratory because I hesitate to leave my house. I know that the disciples always prayed in their upper room, so I figured that I should pray in my bedroom. I quickly convinced myself that this wasn’t ideal. As I’d try to pray a holy hour, I would keep getting distracted and reminding myself of how much I miss Mass and the Newman Center. I’d let myself become disheartened and I was losing my motivation to pray.
I knew that I needed a designated space to pray, but my family doesn’t have a home altar. A few days ago, I felt really restless from being cooped up in the house. I knew that I needed to be productive and do something or make something, so as I was praying my holy hour, I felt inspired to make a home altar on my nightstand. It was pretty bare because I had just spring cleaned my room, so I made a little space for praying by putting my favorite rosaries on my nightstand and arranging my Bible and a few other books with a little statue and a prayer rock.
I plan on sprucing it up when I move out of my off-campus apartment. When I move everything back home, I’ll add my Catholic art collection to the wall above my home altar. I’ll add the rest of my prayer cards and booklets as well as a little cushion to kneel on. I also want to make a rosary holder to hang on the wall so I can display my rosaries.
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In the Bible verse that I quoted at the beginning of this post, a woman made a space for Elisha to stay whenever he visited her. By doing this, she showed him that she wanted him there and made him feel welcome. When we make a home altar, we set apart a place for God. We show him that he’s welcome in our home and we want him to abide with us.
Although I’ve only had it for a few days now, my little home altar helps me concentrate on praying and helps me to think of God instead of all the noise going on in my life right now. It offers me an escape from the stress of everyday life. My home altar reminds me that my Heavenly Father is still here, in the center of my life. By going to this designated space, I show him that I’m willing to sacrifice my time and effort to know, love, and serve him more and to strengthen my relationship with him through prayer.
When everything is complete, I’ll share my finished home altar with you in another blog post! In the meantime, if you have any tips for putting together a home altar, I’d love to hear them!
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