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Unclutter Your Prayer Closet (Part 1): Moms with Babies and Toddlers

I walk quickly to my bathroom hoping I haven’t been seen. I quietly close the door and lock it. Should I leave the light off? Should I hide in the tub? Did they see me? What should I do?

Suddenly I hear it. Clunk. A little toy car comes through the slats in the bathroom door (we live in Taiwan, and the bathroom doors have slats in them for air circulation—they are spaced perfectly for toy cars to go through).

A little face peers through the slats, “Mommy?” Our game has begun. I put the car back through the slats. He giggles and puts it through to my side again. I giggle too.

I sit on the closed toilet enjoying this little game with our youngest, look longingly at my Bible on the back of the toilet, and wonder when I’ll get to enjoy a real quiet time again.

We’re going to be talking about several styles of prayer closets and how to keep them decluttered, but we want to start with a very important prayer closet, not cluttered, but filled with the pitter patter of little feet. It’s the young mom style of prayer closet.

We all know this one no matter what our preference is for an ideal prayer closet. It is the toys, sticky fingers, and diapers style. We have times in our lives when a “real” quiet time is nearly impossible. Our prayer closet is only a dream for someday. If we had a real prayer closet, we’d be tempted to use it for taking a nap.

Seven “Mom” Prayer Closets

We’ve talked with some moms and had our own experiences and have come up with a few creative suggestions that might help during this time in your life.

  1. One of the classic examples is the Wesley’s mother who would put her apron over her head. Her children knew that she was praying and was not to be disturbed when her apron was over her head.
  2. Some choose to have a quiet time while the kids are napping. Even if your children are past the napping age, having a short quiet time for them when they can quietly play with their books while you have a few moments of time to yourself is a great blessing.
  3. There’s always the “bathroom Bible.” This is for the mom who escapes to the bathroom to have a few moments of quiet. Sometimes we need a waterproof Bible so we can read it while in the tub, but at least during these early years, a bathroom break may be our only time alone (if we even get that).
  4. If you have babies, reading the Bible aloud as they are drifting off to sleep may be a possibility for you. They just want to hear your voice. They don’t know what you’re saying. This way you bless them and bless yourself at the same time.
  5. One mom found her quiet place in the playpen. Instead of putting the kids in the playpen (or the dogs in the dog kennel), she put herself in the playpen for a little quiet time. She could see the kids and talk to them, but they weren’t climbing on her and her Bible. She could read and take notes in peace.
  6. Another mom chose to go out to her minivan for her quiet time. While her kids ate breakfast and got ready for school or even before they woke up, she would be out in the minivan spending time with God. It was her only place without distractions in a house full of kids. Her kids were a bit older than toddlers.
  7. Of course, we can always plan to get up earlier than our children or stay up later than they do and have our quiet times then. However, we encourage you to accept that sometimes, like Elijah after dealing with all he had to do at Mt. Carmel, we need to sleep and eat and care for our bodies. Give yourself grace.

Start Small and Build

Whatever our current situation, our current need is the same. To be a growing, thriving follower of Christ, we need to spend time with Him. We need to pray and read the Bible. So, we need to start somewhere.

As with most things in life, we may need to start small and build. Maybe we make a goal of reading 1-2 verses each day, but we think about them all day while we are going through our routine. Maybe our prayers come in spurts. We can put a list on the fridge or the bathroom mirror, and each time we see it, we pray for the next item on that list. We ask God to help us see the beautiful moments in our day, and we praise Him and thank Him for those moments. Before long, we realize our day has been filled with worship and time with God. It was just in snippets of time in the nooks and crannies of our day. It may not be our ideal or what we hope for, but it is still valid and valuable.

And the best part is, our children see it. They see the change in our attitude. They realize we’re praying or quoting a scripture quietly to ourselves. They see that we value our time with God while we value being their parent. And I believe God blesses our efforts no matter how small they may seem to us.

So the moral of the story is, whatever your style or time of life: start. Build that prayer closet even if it is under and apron or in a playpen. And be gracious. God is full of grace. We need to give ourselves grace. Put away the perfectionism and settle into the perfection God is building into our lives as we mature and grow closer to Him, even in the tiniest of steps. We’re spending time with a Person, not checking items off a list. We can rest in that. We can enjoy the communion with His Spirit even in the chaos of mothering and the wandering moments looking at squirrels.  

2 thoughts on “Unclutter Your Prayer Closet (Part 1): Moms with Babies and Toddlers”

  1. When I was still serving as a Co-Pastor of a church, I taught several weekly Women’s Bible Studies. I always started with the lights off, candles lit, soft music. I encouraged the women to set aside a place in their homes to set up like this, a place where they went to sit in quiet, read their Bibles, study the lesson for the upcoming week. It could be a space right in the midst of it all: a corner of a room, for instance. Many of the women created such a spot, right in the midst of the busyness.

    One woman told me that her children had learned to respect her moments of time in her small corner of the living room, and even said to her, “We want a space like that, too, to read our Bibles!” She set a lovely example for her children. Women need to know that it’s okay to take time, and that they are teaching their children a quiet lesson in doing this. Doesn’t work so well with babies and toddlers, but something to get in the habit of doing! Your column reminded me of this! Thanks for sharing all of your wonderful ideas!

    1. Terrie Hellard Brown

      I LOVE this, Kathy. Thank you for sharing it. Moms have such a special, God-given influence and role to play in the family and the spiritual growth of our children.

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