Lenten Devotional for Friday, March 9, 2012

Mark 1: 35 – “In the morning, while it was still very dark, [Jesus] got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.”

Prayer a key discipline for Lent, to say nothing of a key discipline for the Christian life.  Prayer.  We’ve been taught prayers.   We all know that we should pray.  We feel guilty that we don’t pray enough!  I am not a big fan of guilt.  I subscribe to Alan Cohen’s view:  guilt is punishing yourself before God doesn’t.  A big waste of time.  Better to spend the time praying.  

Praying is often thought of as seeking answers.  But asking for things is not the only way to pray.  Prayer, for me, is dialog, communication which implies a relationship.  Yes, praying is presenting the things that we deeply yearn for to God.  Asking God for guidance, help, comfort or whatever implies that we need to listen for the answer.  Listening is hard.  Waiting is frustrating.  And how often are we so narrowly focused that we don’t see an answer when it is given?  

Our tradition has given us a number of “spiritual practices” to help us prepare to listen and hear God.  These include walking (or “pacing” if u wish, but calmly!), watching a candle flame, paying attention to your breath, repeating a short phrase (mantra), etc.  These practices are like preparing soil for seeds.   They all help us rest in God as we await a “still, small voice.”  Of course, an “answer” may come to us completely “out of the blue” at any time or place!  However God speaks to us, it is a gift to be treasured and put to use.  May our various journeys to Easter be richly blessed with both acts of prayer and complete inaction in the company of God’s Spirit of grace.

Gracious God, as we open our hearts and our lives to you during this season, may be feel your presence, sense your grace, and follow in the ways of Jesus of Calvary.
Rob Stewart

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