I know that I have not written in a long time, and that what I have written has been sporadic. The past few weeks I have been unable to ignore the message that God is clearly speaking. “You need to come back to me, trust me and pray and reflect.”
Who has been bringing that message the past few weeks?
A professor from my days at Theological School invited me to be a part of a theological reflection group, and I discovered that the skills of theological reflection get very dusty and even rusty over time.
Becky, a friend and fellow blogger who has returned to blogging, praying and reflecting after some time out herself, and touched my heart to remind me that I miss reflecting upon what God is teaching, and working to take that and make sense out of it as I write what comes out of my heart.
The minister at the church where I worship, who on Transfiguration Sunday and the First Sunday of Lent preached on our need to be wholly connected with God if our lives are to be transformed.
A person at worship yesterday, whom I have never spoken with before, came and sat beside me and talked about how that sermon spoke to her and reminded her that time spent with God in study and prayer are crucial.
I often say that when God wants to get my attention he gets a two by four and beats me upside the head. Well I got the message. No more complaining that my life is too busy. No more complaining that my life is too complicated. No more whining that my life isn’t going the way that I want and that God doesn’t seem to be listening. The message is clear, it is ME who needs to be listening.
So, for Lent I am going to undertake a study, do some reflecting and write some prayers. For Lent I am going to listen and pray.
I began with a search for a Lenten Study to undertake and found one that had a topic that absolutely speaks to where I am at. As I am starting a little late, today I am reflecting on the third topic in the list.
The words that caught my attention: At the hour of crisis, our hope is in prayer.
Wasn’t that the whole reason I started this blog? I started blogging to reinforce in my own life the need for prayer, the need for a hope that is based in prayer, the need to be regular in prayer and above all the need to listen to God in prayer.
So here I am again.
The Scripture passage that supported this topic comes from Matthew 26, where Jesus and the disciples go up the mountain to pray on the night of his arrest.
Reading from the Message these words jumped out at me. Before the night’s over, you’re going to fall to pieces because of what happens to me. Truthfully the disciples did fall apart when they felt like they couldn’t find Jesus or count on him to save them. For me, when I couldn’t find God, when I didn’t know how to connect with him to hold onto trust and confidence or even to find hope, the difficulty of remaining in prayer proved so true. I still prayed, mostly complaining prayers really. But complaining to God and listening for God’s direction are two different things. So my goal in this season of Lent is to listen for God and to stop whining that I can’t hear him speak. He is speaking, I am just not able to hear because I have stopped working on the skills to listen.
This passage goes on to say: “Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger. There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there’s another part that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.” Sometimes sticking it out with God, is a long prospect. The time of waiting is so full of temptation. The temptation to believe that God doesn’t care. The temptation to believe that God won’t help. The temptation to take control into your own hands (and if you have read any of my blogs before you know I have a lot of trouble with that). The temptation to control God. And the temptation to lazy spirituality. Let’s take the easy road sit down and do nothing. The problem with giving in to all those temptations is that they lead to discouragement and they strangle hope. Shortly afterward faith and trust fall by the wayside.
And the shocking part of the words of Jesus, when we fall into those temptations we don\t even know we have wandered into danger!
So this journey of study, reflection and prayer, will hopefully teach me how to pick up faith, how to place my trust in God and how to walk with hope and expectation where he leads me.
Today’s prayer: Our hope is in prayer
Omnipotent and holy God, I desire your presence and your word to fill my life
usher in a new desire to seek you and to trust you
renew in me a desire for prayer and teach me anew how to reflect upon your grace
help me to open my heart, my mind and my soul to your leading
order my days so that you are once again in the centre
prepare me to recognize and accept your grace as you reveal it
enter my heart and help me to praise you fully
inspire my worship and my service that you may be seen in all I do
silence my doubts, block my selfish desires, remove my stubborn independence
inspire me in little ways to trust you and remind me my hope is in you
now and always be my direction and my strength
prepare me to be all that you ask me to be
remind me that all that I am is found in you
align my spirit to accept the direction of your spirit
yesterday is past and forgiven, may I know that truth deep within my being
encourage me to continue even when I can’t hear you, or feel you, for you are with me
renewing my faith until I am completely surrendered to you, my Lord and my God. Amen