My spiritual life is often overly intellectual. I’m good with doctrines, creeds and theology, but I struggle with putting flesh on those internal concepts. One habit I’m trying to focus on this year is to find ways to make my faith tangible and look for reminders in my daily routines that life is connected to something greater (for more on this, I highly recommend Tish Harrison Warren’s “Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life”).
One area where I’ve tried to incorporate this is during my morning shower. I am not at my best in the morning. On a good day, I stumble into the bathroom sore, sweaty and smelly from the gym. On other days (which, let’s be honest, are probably more frequent), I bumble downstairs after staying in bed too long. I’m groggy and grumpy, my hair sticks up in all directions and my unshaven, sheet-creased face usually makes me look about 10 years older than I am. I don’t want to be there; I want to be back under my covers, sleeping until the sun has been up for a few hours. What better time than to force myself to pray than when I’m at my worst?
I turn on the water, step inside and force myself to focus on the tasks that my body will soon be asked to perform through the next few hours, and ask God for the strength to do it all.
The prayer begins before I apply any soap. Well aware of my bad attitude, I simply let the water wash over me and I focus on my own uncleanness, both externally and internally. I mumble a prayer of thanks for the forgiveness of my sins in Christ and his sanctifying work throughout the day. I remind myself that I’m a sinner in need of grace, which was provided in Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary. The only way anything I do has worth or meaning is because of Christ’s cleansing of my life. I let the water serve as a symbol of his purifying blood and a reminder of how Christ washed his disciples’ feet in the Upper Room.
Number every hair, meet every need
I then grab the shampoo. I thank God for knowing and numbering every hair on my head. It’s a reminder that He knows what I need before I do, and loves to meet the needs of His children. He will continue to do it throughout the day.
Incline my heart, satisfy my hunger, strengthen my armsI soap up my chest after that (shower purists, please don’t judge my bathing routine). I ask that God incline my heart to him and set it on his will that day. I ask him to make me satisfied with the food he gives, be grateful for the nourishment He provides and not over indulge. I move on to my arms, asking for the strength to do good, quality work that glorifies Him, meets the needs of others and puts Him on display. I ask for creativity in my writing, focus in my editing and strength in the hard work of parenting and contributing around the house.
Set my face on Christ
I scrub and pray that God breaks me of my stiff-neckedness, the stubborn behavior that chafes at correction and too often refuses to admit wrong and begin to change. I follow by washing my face, asking for eyes that see need, ears that listen to others, lips that bring encouragement and truth, and a countenance that reflects joy in Christ.
Direct my steps
I wash my legs and feet, pleading for the faith to follow wherever God leads me in the course of the day. I don’t want my path to stray; I want to go where He directs and not veer to the right or left. I also remind myself that beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news, and so I ask for opportunity to cross paths with those who haven’t heard the Gospel and need the hope of Christ.
Consecrate this day
I finish by rinsing, again reminding myself that nothing I accomplish that day will be of my own strength or merit but of God’s. I ask God to consecrate this day to Him.
This probably sounds much more insightful and pious than it is in practice. Some mornings I don’t verbalize the requests but only have strength or time to think briefly on them before finishing up and rushing out the door. And it’s not a guarantee of success; many are the days I intend to give all to Christ and leave feeling closer to him, only to be grumpy, selfish and sinful by the time I hit traffic. But for a few moments each morning, God redirects my focus onto him. He centers me and allows me to remember what’s at stake in a day and who helps me accomplish anything. He reminds me that this small, seemingly insignificant person has a part to play in His purposes and that, through His power, a day’s tedium can have eternal implications and glorious results. And so every morning, as I grab my towel and prepare for the day, I strive for a glimpse of the Gospel in this tedious, often forgettable task.