Lent is a season where out of devotion to God so many of us give something up. Some of the most popular things to give up are: Chocolate, junk food, TV, and Internet surfing. While letting go of habits that are not particularly healthy for us can be good and teach self-discipline, what if during lent we considered adding a habit or practice that would be helpful to our spiritual health and wellness?
Last week I finished reading a book called, The Sacred Echo by Margaret Feinberg. The Sacred Echo discusses the challenge and promise of a life devoted to prayer. Margaret tells stories from her own life honestly shares her own challenges in pray and her relationship with God. She suggests that a chronically disrupted prayer life can be symptomatic of our own misdirected perspective and attitude towards God. If we subconsciously perceive God to be angry or vengeful or disinterested, we will not be very likely to pursue a relationship with God.
Margaret says this in regard to times of silence with God,
(Pg 169, The Sacred Echo)
" In the silence, we are tempted to fill in the blanks in our life, our future, and our relationship with God. And that's dangerous. In the silence, we are tempted with doubt and fear, and, wort of all, we may resort to the godlessness that sprouts from trying to make things happen on our own."
In my own personal challenges in sustaining a consistent pray life, I found it encouraging to know I'm not the only person in the world who is sometimes distracted, discouraged, or frustrated with my own shortcomings in faithfulness to regular prayer. Sometimes, due to my own distractedness in prayer, I think I've drawn lines in the sand in my communication with God. Sometimes when I experience silence from my times of prayer, what do I do? Often, I scurry back to the business of life without considering what the purpose of the silence may be for. Maybe, I need to better learn that prayer is not something to check off my to do list, and would better be described as being with God. Maybe if I was better at being with God, I'd be less concerned about what was being "accomplished" in my own quiet times and prayer.
So when I consider Lent and the opportunity it offers for me to grow in my relationship with God, I have a few things to consider:
1. How is my perspective of God effecting my willingness to approach God in prayer?
If I can step into lent this year and look to God as a loving, approachable God, I know I will be more likely to make an effort to communicate via my devotions and prayers.
2. Can I think of the time I spend in prayer as not just something to accomplish, but as spending time with God? If I can look at this time in this way, maybe the pressure to accomplish will be removed and I can simply be with God during this season of Lent.
For Lent this year this things I'm hoping to give up: misconceptions about God and lines I've drawn between God and myself will ultimately allow for me to take up something new and life giving: time and openness for a closer relationship with God, my loving and comforting Creator, Redeemer and Comforter.
This Lent, we could choose to give up lots of different things to show our devotion to God, but what if giving up the lines and limitations we've already drawn between us and God allowed for a fuller, richer, relationship with God? Lets un-draw the lines and relearn how to simply be with and speak with God from our hearts. Its what God's been hoping for all along.
A prayer and resource that you may find helpful this Lent is one I've enjoyed for several years. Go to Sacred Space online or order the yearly devotion as a tool for prayer and spiritual growth. For more info on Margaret Feinberg and her books, go to www.margaretfeinberg.com.