Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Lent: Inviting Us to Special Times of Prayer

“When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
            -Matthew 6:6
Lent is an invitation to set aside some extra time for prayer. Not out of obligation, but rather receiving it as a gift, Lent bids us to put our roots deeper in the Lord through prayer and devotion.
Yet, as soon as we determine to go into our room—or church or wherever we can get alone to pray—everything breaks loose. Something needs our attention at home, or we think about the project(s) that we have wanted to do. Resistance will always confront us as soon as we purpose ourselves to pursue God afresh.
The greatest resistance almost always comes from within. We have divided hearts. Part of us truly wants solitude with the Lord. Another part of us does not want to give up the time. Indeed, time is often more limited for us than money.
Trying to set aside time for prayer—which, at least to the naked eye, produces nothing—exposes our hearts. We can be very greedy with our time. Often, by the time we fulfill all our obligations in life, we have a rather short amount of time that is our own. We either want to simply relax, or we want to get to a project that will help us “get ahead.” How reluctant we are to give up that little time we have for prayer!
Just as the practices of fasting and giving alms reveal the clinging in our hearts, so does prayer. In order to pray, we must give God some of our precious time.
Yet, what a privilege we have to focus on prayer during Lent! Perhaps it is going on a Lenten retreat. Or, if we cannot go away for a weekend retreat during this season, we can bring a bit of retreat into our own homes. Each evening we can stop everything we are doing a half hour earlier in order to read some Scripture and a Lenten devotional. Or we can get up half an hour earlier each morning for some extended time with the Lord during Lent. Maybe we can talk half of a day on Saturday or Sunday to go apart for some extended time of solitude and silence.
However it works for you, try setting aside some intentional time of prayer for the remainder of Lent. We will never regret the time we give to God in prayer!
© 2016 Glenn E. Myers
For Lent the church has always emphasized fasting, prayer and giving alms. See Matthew 6: 2,6,17, “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets . . . when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen . . . when you fast. . . .”

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