Personal Devotion Space

April 10, 2018
Adam Whitescarver

I believe having a sacred space in one’s home is an essential component of having a vibrant prayer life; it’s also an ancient Christian practice.  Going back to the earliest days of our faith, believers gathered in private residences—there were no church buildings (as we know them now) for the first few centuries of the faith.  Archaeologists have discovered altars built in Christian homes where believers would gather on the Lord’s Day to worship and celebrate communion.  For people who lived during those times it would not be uncommon to say prayers at those same altar places throughout the week. This was the context in which much of the New Testament was written.  

When the Apostle Paul addressed believers, he was talking to Christians who would have had sacred space set up in their homes.  

When Christianity became legalized and no longer had to stay hidden in homes, glorious formal church buildings were constructed almost overnight.  This did not, however, mean that Christians tore out the private altars in their homes, and ceased having dedicated spaces in their houses for the worship of God.  Instead, believers kept their altars and went to their separate church buildings.  This practice has continued down to our times with many Catholic and especially Orthodox believers maintaining dedicated sacred space in their homes (both encourage it strongly, in fact).

Personal devotional spaces are always set up intentionally—they often occupy a nook or corner of the house and come complete with: sacred art and crosses on the wall; small tables set up with candles, colored cloth, Bible and prayer books; and sometimes one even finds kneelers or prayer rugs on which to lie prostrate.  

This kind of decor may not suit the fancy of everyone reading this blog, but we should recognize sacred space in the homes of believers was a practice of the early Church that turned the world upside down.  We would do well to emulate them!

For us, this may mean clearing out a closet and storing stuff elsewhere so we can have a tiny private room to pray in.  It may mean putting a desk or kneeler in some place off the most beaten paths of our homes. Wherever we set it up, it should be sacred and have the accoutrements conducive for prayer. Make a list of prayer topics/requests and post it to a bulletin board—put up whatever physical prompts you find helpful for your prayer life.  Regardless, the space should say one thing to you: Christ is the welcome and precious Guest of your home, and this is the place where you will meet Him. Lord willing you will start to notice a difference in the peace of your home as it become a place of regular prayer and worship to the Lord.