Take Inventory of Your Spaces

garden chairs

There’s a reason the Christian world, whether in a small Midwestern town in the U.S. or on the streets of Rome, is dotted with spaces meant for prayer. From earliest times, people on spiritual quests understood that space mattered. It mattered if the space for prayer was crowded with worshippers or if it was a solitary monk’s cell. It mattered if the halls echoed music or silence or noise from the street. It mattered what the space smelled like, what colors covered its walls or floors, and what textures met the hand or the skin—a soft breeze from the window or a cold stone bench.

We have spent centuries creating spaces that help us pray. Many of these spaces have survived as grand cathedrals or quiet abbeys. Some of them are more like museums now. But still, it matters where we dwell for a time of communion with God. It matters in my own town, on my own street. It even matters right in my own home.

During the summer months, pay attention to the various spaces in your life. In fact, this week, wander your ordinary, daily routes and make some notes about the rooms, backyards, gardens, workspaces, and commuting paths (whether you commute by foot, on bike, in car, bus, or train). You can begin by answering these questions:

  • How does this space make me feel physically? Am I relaxed or anxious, stimulated or bored, comfortable or fidgety?
  • What do I feel like doing when I’m here? Closing my eyes and resting, or reading or thinking or working on my schedule or to-do lists? Having conversations?
  • Does this space remind me of any significant events, people, or places from my past—and if so, how?

Do a little space inventory this week, and, if you like, share with us what you discover.


This post is part of a series: Praying Through the Summer.

About Vinita Hampton Wright 92 Articles
Vinita Hampton Wright has served as senior editor at Loyola Press for 16 years and recently became managing editor of the trade books department. She has written various fiction and non-fiction books, including the novel Dwelling Places with HarperOne, Days of Deepening Friendship and The Art of Spiritual Writing for Loyola Press, and most recently, The St. Teresa of Avila Prayer Book for Paraclete Press. Vinita is a student and practitioner of Ignatian spirituality, and from 2009 to 2015 she blogged at Days of Deepening Friendship. For the past few years, she has co-led small groups through the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises. She lives in Chicago with her husband, three cats, and a dog. In her “spare” time these days, she is working on her next novel.

7 Comments on Take Inventory of Your Spaces

  1. Just a thought…. wouldn’t we want to encourage each other to pray regardless of the physical space in which we reside? I understand about praying spaces and the need to have designated prayer locations for the ambience, tranquisity, etc. However, if we are admonished to pray without ceasing, then we may not always be in a ‘prayer space’. We may be stuck in traffic or standing in line at the grocery store. These could become prayer spaces just because we are praying within them. Just a thought….

    • Excellent point. Much of the time, we must pray wherever we are, no matter what is happening. This article is meant simply to help people create spaces where they can. Thanks for posting–Vinita

  2. The brilliance and beauty of nature in the summer definitely makes me feel in awe of Gods creation and I have caught myself in spontaneous prayer looking out over the ocean, gazing into the middle of a beautiful flower or looking up to the blue sky through tall trees in a forest. But no matter the season NO WHERE takes the place of our parish perpetual adoration chapel, where I can sit in front of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and feel His presence so deeply that tears run down my face. Once I started going there, it has become built into my daily routine, it may only be 3 minutes or as much as an hour and a half, but I HAVE to be with Him everyday.😇

  3. GOOD THOUGHT Carolyn, not ALL people have the time to create Special Prayer Spaces. Your whole life can be a prayer to God., offer it up to Him each day. God Bless. Of courses lovely spaces are great also. He is with you wherever you are, even cleaning the house! A.M.D.G.

  4. I needed this message today. Have been waking up early to pray but have been distracted by the many things around me. The balcony where I like to go early morning is wet with rain, the study is filled with racks of clothes trying to dry out, signs of unpacking of a recent trip are all around … and I find myself wondering around as there is no conducive space.
    Just decided to stop getting distracted and at least try a ‘reading’ when I came to this.
    Although I agree with Carolyn M Lassiter that we need to be in prayer even without the prayer space, I realise that I do need to maintain that prayer space in my home to go into myself and truly experience “Be still, and know that I am God.”
    Shall rectify this forthwith … Thank you for the reminder..

  5. For many months now I have turned my daily commute to prayer. I cherish getting into the car syncing my cell phone to YouTube to pray the rosary, listen to reflections and so on.

  6. I agree with Carolyn. Some have no choice for a space to pray, such as the imprisoned, the dislocated. St. John of the Cross comes to mind. God is every where and in every thing and person.

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