Tag Archives: Prayer

Lent

Lent starts today.                          

In my church, this means lots of things.  There are lists of what you should do, how you should eat, and ways you should pray.  There are times you should go to church (many!) and times you should go to reconciliation.  The entire Lenten season should revolve around Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. 

Are you tired yet?

Every year I start Lent the same way I start the New Year.  With plans, with resolutions, with thoughts of how “good” I’m going to be.  Being “good” during Lent sometimes means being somber and quiet (and hungry!).  We “give up” something and we give by performing one of the Corporal Works of Mercy which include but are not limited to feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick, and visiting the imprisoned.

These rituals and customs are beautiful.  They are steeped in history and scripture and they are a vital part of our own personal transformations.  However, I need to simplify this whole thing for myself this year. 

I read a daily reflection today that I want to share with you.  www.TheSpiritToday.com  This reflection gave me an idea. 

Maybe Jesus is asking us to let him into our desert.  We are asked to join him on his journey and he so desperately wants to be invited to join us on our journeys. 

I remember once when I was young a teacher asked me how I would behave at the dinner table if Jesus came to dinner.  What would I ask Him?  How would I act differently?  

This can be a fun, exciting question or it can instill fear in your heart!  Would He care if I can’t cook?  Would He think my kids are too messy?  Would He see the crumbs on the floor? Would He know our addictions and struggles?  Would He see all the ways we are not measuring up?  Would He see our fears and our doubts and our worries?

I can picture it now.  After the initial stage of awe and silence, He would say something funny to put us at ease.  He would tell stories and be kind to the children.  He would ask me to sit down and relax and be at peace.  We would pray together and share a meal and we would thank Him.  We would ask questions and He would guide us and forgive us. 

Doesn’t that sound nice? 

In order for us to understand Him, we join Him on his journey through the desert during Lent.  In order for Him to understand us, we ask Him to join us on our journeys, in our deserts, all the time.  

So this Lent, I’ll be inviting Him in.  Into my home (mess and noise included) and into my heart (mess and noise included).  I hope you do too…then we all will be truly transformed.

Prayer

Ah, prayer… my friend has a sign by her bed that says, “Pray every day”.  I saw it and I said, “Oh, I love that, how nice” and she said, “yeah, if only I could do it!”  Isn’t that the truth? We all have good intentions.  We all know we should pray, we have been told that praying will bring us closer to God.  Why don’t we do it?

Along these same lines, I have found yoga and it has changed me.  For years, I could not be bothered to do yoga because I needed to run for at least 30 minutes and lift weights and sweat a lot or else it wasn’t a work out.  I could not be bothered with learning to breathe and have proper alignment and find stillness and learn life skills.  I had to rush around like a maniac sweating and punishing myself to fit in my jeans.  Try telling me otherwise and I would think you just had too much time on your hands. 

But as I got older and realized I wanted stillness and peace and I wanted to be centered…I pursued yoga.  Okay, let’s be honest, I pursued it because I heard it gives you great abs and makes you look taller!  Anyway, I got there and I was hooked.  Over the years, it has become so much a part of me, when I don’t do it, I don’t feel right.  Yes, there are physical benefits but it is the interior benefits that keep me going back for more. 

So, here’s the thing…I thought I didn’t need it.  I thought it was good for other people.  I thought I was fine running around like the energizer bunny.  I was surprised and awed by the transformation that took place when I started doing yoga.  It’s a subtle shift in awareness that eventually changes you completely. 

Back to prayer…Do you think you don’t need it?  Do you think it’s for people who have too much time on their hands?  Do you believe it can transform you? 

What does prayer mean to you?  How do you begin?

“To pray means to open your hands before God.  It means slowly relaxing the tension which squeezes your hands together and accepting your existence with an increasing readiness, not as a possession to defend but as a gift to receive.” 

                                                      –Henri Nouwen from With Open Hands

I love that.  Look…those words I love…open, relaxing, accepting, receive.  Doesn’t that sound nice?  I love the image of being ready to receive a gift.  It makes me hopeful, excited.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring?  Won’t it be fun to find out?