Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lent: A Season of Single-mindedness

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

One thing I ask of the Lord,
    this is what I seek;
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
To gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.
-Psalm 27:4

Lent is a wonderful opportunity to grow spiritually because it aids us in being single-minded. David declared in Psalm 27 that he was only focused on one thing in life—that is seeking the Lord. Nothing else—being king of Israel and military leader—ultimately counted. David’s focus was on getting to know the Lord better and spending time in God’s presence.

Traditionally the three spiritual disciplines of Lent have been fasting, prayer and almsgiving. Especially the first two help us to gain—and maintain—a single-mindedness during Lent.

Fasting can be done in many ways. It can be restraining from all food for a meal or a day or longer. It can be restraining from specific foods, like candy or deserts, during the 40 days of Lent. It can also be abstaining from Face Book or texting or Tweeting. For some people, turning off technology is much more of a discipline—and therefore offers much more focus—than abstaining from food.

Whenever I’m fasting, I notice how hungry I am during the time of day when I usually eat. My body wants its normal sustenance. Whenever I feel those hunger pangs, I remind myself that I am even more hungry for the Lord. Yes, I’m missing food, but even more, I am longing for the Lord. As I do so, those feelings of hunger channel my heart to a greater single-mindedness on the Lord.

Prayer then directs that single-mindedness toward a fresh pursuit of God in my life. Lent is an opportunity to have special times of prayer beyond our ordinary daily rhythms of prayer. This can be through taking a retreat, attending a weekly Lenten service at church, setting aside a special time during the week for prayer or adding an extra timeout during the day to focus on the Lord.

Especially if we fast from a meal, we can set that time aside for prayer—we partake spiritually instead of physically. Rather than simply getting more done on our “to do” list during that mealtime, we can direct our hunger to the Lord.

Whether through fast or prayer or any other aid, I welcome you to us use this season of Lent to become single-minded. The busyness of life tends to numb us so that we do not realize how hungry we are for God. Lent is a time to get in touch with the deepest longings of our soul.

Take this opportunity to cultivate a fresh single-mindedness toward the Lord, so that you can say with Psalm 27, “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; . . . To gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”

© 2014 Glenn E. Myers

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