I talk with people so often about the presence of God in their lives. And often, in the midst of that conversation, I hear a deep desire to connect more deeply with God, to be drawn further into the mystery of God's presence in and among us. In Lent, this desire often rises even more clearly to the top as people seek new opportunities to serve or take on new practices of prayer and meditation. How do we pray? How do we participate more fully in God's mission? How do we follow Jesus more closely? All good questions, and particularly relevant in this season.
The truth is that for generations, the saints of God have been drawn more and more deeply into the mystery of God by walking down particular paths and practicing our faith in particular ways. They include prayer, service, study of scripture, stewardship of our time and resources, and communal worship. While this isn't the flashiest of answers - in fact, it seems rather run of the mill, doesn't it? It's actually the case that this time, the simplest answer is the best. Why do we recommend that you focus on these things in Lent? Because tradition tells us that generations of the faithful have come to know God more fully when they submit themselves to a life that is marked by these practices.
We come to know God better when we dwell in the Word - when we spend time each day - studying and learning from scripture. We are more centered and more grounded people when we find our strength and our comfort in daily practices of prayer. And we are better stewards, better neighbors, and more faithful creatures when these practices are priorities in our lives rather than just things we get to if we have time. That's part of the reason the knee-jerk reaction in Lent is often to add time for silent prayer or mediation or to join a Bible study. And of course, the ultimate hope is that, if you make time for this priority during the 40 days of Lent, you might be so transformed by the end of it that this habit simply becomes part of your life. No longer something you tried on for a while, but something you decide you cannot do without.
For me, I've committed this Lent to create even more time for my own silent prayer with God. Though I begin and end every day with prayer, I wanted during this Lent to add an extra twenty minutes in the middle of my day to just be quiet - no matter where I am - and to invite God again into my heart and into my day. I decided it was okay for this 20 minutes to float. So, today it happened rather early, around eleven because I have a rather full afternoon. Other days it may happen closer to one or two. In any case, the point is for me to remember in the middle of the busy-ness of my day, whose I am, and why I am so busy. On who's account I'm busy - and how much it is a privilege for this to be the case.
Perhaps you're really humming along with your Lenten practice. Perhaps you aren't. Perhaps you still haven't picked one? No matter where you are on this spectrum, I want to encourage you today to consider what you might add intentionally into your life to create more room for God. Maybe, like me, you need a pause in the middle of the day to stop and remember. Maybe it's something entirely different. No matter what it is, decide today, offer it to God, and remember that sometimes the simplest answer is the best. Bless you.