Tuesday, November 26, 2013

praying the dishes

I have never really liked doing the dishes.

{nothing glamorous about them}
Unfortunately, my husband and I do not have a dishwasher in our apartment. Before moving to NYC I had always had one and, I admit, I took it for granted. (Now I know what a luxury having one can be!) Over the past several months however, my heart has started to change in regard to our dishwasher-less fate. I felt this change begin when I started praying the dishes.

Yes, I said praying the dishes. Let me explain.

First of all, you should know I am blessed to have a husband who usually does the dishes. I cook, and he cleans up - it's a system we have worked out together. So when I found myself doing the dishes, there was sometimes a bitterness in my heart. I was annoyed to be doing dishes after I had already made breakfast, baked cookies, prepared a nice dinner or whatever the case. I know it sounds selfish, and it was. Of course, I know that marriage (like many relationships) is give and take. I do not always cook the meals, and my husband does not always do the dishes. Sometimes one of us does both to help the other. That's how it goes, and that is a good thing! And doing the dishes is just one tiny example in a lifetime of loving one another and working together as a team.

I'm not sure where I first heard the concept of offering something up in prayer. This could be any number of things - cleaning the house, running/exercising, being stuck in traffic - or in this case, doing the dishes. Often times when I'd have this less-than-desirable task before me I would think to myself, "Okay. I am going to offer this up," and hope it would make the task more bearable. I cannot say that it worked. But I also have to confess: While I was offering it up in my mind, my heart hadn't gotten on board. And oh, is the heart essential.

As I mentally offered up doing the dishes for whatever prayer intention I had, I also had this frustration in my heart. I wanted to do the dishes out of love for my husband, and for the intention of something special, but it was a challenge. It helped me to have a very specific intention in mind. I persevered in the practice, and by the grace of God offering it up grew easier with time. I will never forget the first time my heart caught up with my mind's intentions. Finally I was freely offering up this typically mundane task as a prayer...I was praying the dishes. I knew because of the joy I felt - the fruit of the prayer was beautifully evident.

Now, I'm no saint - I don't rush to do the dishes and of course I still have moments of selfishness (more than I care to admit). I do, however, thank God for every day of my life...for my husband, my home and - yes - even my dirty dishes, when I find myself in prayer at the kitchen sink.

Do you ever "offer it up"? Do you have any prayer intentions I could pray for you next time I'm praying the dishes? I'd love to hear what you have to say about this topic - leave me a note or send me an e-mail!


  1. I was reading through this as you were commenting on mine!
    This is beautiful, Elise...
    What perspective you brought to an otherwise mundane task.
    I will surely join you in prayer tomorrow morning at my kitchen sink. : )

  2. With the new church year on the horizon, what a great "New Years resolution" this would be. For me, it would be praying the laundry! :)

  3. Great reflection Elise!!! I just love that about our faith...that anything can be used as a prayer or sacrifice! :)

  4. Ooo my goodness, I'm a dish hater, too! I offered to do them every day for Lent one year, but in my weakness my heart stayed kind of hard. Thanks for the reminder that even things I hate can be redeemed!


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