revjoaquinwillisweb.gifIn our new home in Watkins Park, Maryland, we declared an upstairs room our “junk room.” The rest of the house was open to inspection. Most of us are open with our homes and our hearts. But, for many, there is a place where secret passions, desires, sins, and vain imaginations are allowed to exist. Many are so long-lived that their owners might not be willing to live without them.

Richard De Haan, in the inspirational book Our Daily Bread, shares a story about a little boy and his mother who waited to hear her son’s bedtime prayers. 
The child, bothered by his misdeeds that day, asked his mother to leave so that he could pray alone.

Sensing something amiss, she asked, “Bobby, is there anything you ought to tell me?” “No, Mommy,” he replied. “You would only fuss at me, but God will forgive me and forget about it.” The little boy wanted to clean out his own junk room

Our childhood sins can fester, eventually finding safe haven in our adult hearts.  Little white lies and stolen cookies can become bellwethers of perjury and embezzlement.  Childish peaking under bathroom stalls can morph into sexually deviant and predatory behavior. Childhood grudges can become strongholds of resentment that create an unforgiving spirit.  All of these deeds can crowd into our personal junk rooms.   

Psalm 66:18-20 says, “If I regard wickedness in my heart the Lord will not hear my prayers.”

The Hebrew word for regard (rasah) means, “To approve of, to enjoy and to show respect for a thing.”  When we pray to God while yet enjoying and showing respect for sin, we are collecting toxic debris in our hearts.  Are there things in your heart that do not belong there?  If so, you need to repent, to have a change of mind. 

Without repenting, there is no cleansing of sin.  A sin not removed is yet cherished, accommodated, respected, loved, and provided hospitality.  Scripture says that “God cannot hear our prayers because we are still trying to hide sin from Him.”

Ronnie Floyd, in How to Pray, states, “The secret sins in our hearts are like bricks used to build a wall which keeps our prayers from being heard.”

Last week, we focused upon cleaning up our motives and the wall of “improper motives.”  Another wall, says Floyd, is that of the “unrepentant heart.”  These structures hide our sins, and must come down to allow our prayers to go upward.

How can we clean the junk room in our hearts?  Floyd says we must ask hard questions: 

First, “Have we failed to forgive those who have said or done something to hurt us?” Paul tells us in the Colossians 3:13:  ”Bear with one another forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so also you must do.”

Second, we might ask, “Are you looking lustfully at somebody of the opposite sex?” Jesus says, in Matthew 5:27:  “Anyone who looks at a woman or a man lustfully has already committed adultery with her in their heart.”

You might need to address fear, “Do you shy away from doing the things God wants because you fear you’re not talented enough? Remember Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians 3:20: “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.”
Honest answers to these questions might help to clean up the junk room in your heart.

The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door at 6001 NW 8th Ave., Miami.  To contact the church, call 305-759-0373 or email the pastor at