I couldn’t help but get back in the groove of writing this evening. That’s because something happened today that transported me back to my youth – back to our home at 10050 S. Claremont Ave. in Beverly Hills on the south side of Chicago where I spent most of my early years.
My brothers and I had chores to do around the house each week and our allowance depended, in part, on completing our various assignments. More times than not I pulled dish duty – washing that is, and my brother Doug would end up drying. For years, we didn’t have a dishwasher – that is, other than the human kind… and even when the kitchen was remodeled and we finally had an automatic dishwasher, many things didn’t change.
Mom was a great cook, and she was pretty specific about the way she ran her kitchen. In fact, she had orders that we hand wash all the good china and silverware – as well as the pots, pans and anything else that we used in creating meals. We were taught at an early age that none of that ever was to be machine washed. And Mom had very specific orders about dishes in the sink. All silverware and sharp knives were to be laid on the right hand side of the sink to avoid anybody getting cut reaching into warm soapy water. Dishes and plates, pots and pans were, therefore, always on the left side of the basin and that’s the way it was – no exceptions – ever!
It got to the point that no matter who did the dishes, there was no fear of getting cut. We all knew the rules and whether I was washing or drying, Doug and I never deviated from Mom’s kitchen sink rule. Well, that was years ago and I had forgotten about it – until today.
You see, although Janet and I eat out quite a bit, we have started cooking more than usual lately and I am the one who cooks Sunday breakfast at our home. Janet does the dishes after we have finished. That way, we share the workload although I confess that Janet does far more in the kitchen that I ever have – or probably ever will.
Anyway, today I wanted to help out with the cleanup. Janet had already loaded the sink, wiped the counters and was doing some other chores when I reached into the sink of warm soapy water and began to load the dishwasher. Immediately I noticed that the silverware wasn’t in the right place – on the right side – and there were plates and bowls every which way. Now this isn’t a complaint, mind you. It was just a surprise that brought me back to my youth. I didn’t get cut or anything, but I was careful! Of course, I mentioned to Janet that she wasn’t following the “kitchen sink” rule that had been instituted so many years ago. And so my astonishment Janet mentioned that she never heard about the rule!
And come to think of it, after almost 42 years of being married, we realized that we had never encountered this situation before. I guess that whoever loaded the sink washed the dishes and so the different way we do things has never come up. Don’t get me wrong – I have dried thousands of dishes and pieces of silverware by hand throughout the years, but it is true that Janet normally does the washing. I guess that will have to change…
As I have thought about this morning throughout the day, I am reminded that sometimes we get stuck on the same rules about how we are to pray. Some people believe that we should never ask for anything from God – while others think that is the primary purpose of prayer. Many people include worship as an element of prayer – and some people believe that you should only pray for others – never yourself.
The truth of the matter is that other than Jesus teaching the disciples about the “Lord’s Prayer” and His mandate that we should pray for God’s will to be done, there is no correct way to pray. God answers prayer – we know that. And even when we are so confused or hurt that we don’t even know what to pray for, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and petitions God the Father and His Son on our behalf. There are arrow prayers – those prayers that are short and “shot up” in several words or less. And then there are long, intercessory prayers that takes hours to deliver to the God of the universe. Sometimes, people fast all day when they pray – others don’t – but once again, that’s personal preference.
The verse for this evening helps us understand the one important part of prayer – that our prayers are to be in alignment with the will of God for our lives. We are told, by Jesus Himself, in John 14:13-14, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Some people don’t understand that this doesn’t mean that Jesus will do anything we want – only those things that are “in the name” of Jesus.
My encouragement this evening is that Jesus wants us to pray to Him and worship Him in whatever way is consistent with the way He created us. The important thing to remember is that our prayers must be in alignment with God’s will. My prayer is that you won’t be bound by arbitrary customs and rules imposed by man when approaching God. Take a chance – break the man-made rules – and as long as you petition with Lord with dignity and respect, in His name, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…