Has the advent of Lent caught you unaware again? I know; the intellectual response to Lent for many is to sigh and ponder the inconvenience of fasting, increased prayer and alms giving. Can’t we maintain our commitment to God without having to undergo this annual ritual? Can’t Easter hurry up and happen? Don’t I already have enough crosses to carry?
These thoughts and many like them may occur to us as we move forward in the Church year. How different it might be if we have taken the time to this point to try to foster a living and intimate relationship with Jesus whose loving concern for us manifests itself daily. Part of the problem is our inclination to put off things that we don’t want to confront, at least not yet. Many of us do this in various aspects of our daily lives including the need to work on daily prayer. Of course, we have a myriad of reasons why we haven’t taken on that task yet. “I’ll pray regularly once the kids are all in school or when they are grown up or when I’m not so tired from work”.
As St Paul proclaims in 2 Corinthians 6:2 “Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold now is the day of salvation”. The irony of all this, of course, is that by taking on the task now of improving our prayer life we begin to experience the joy of intimacy with Jesus and the grace that flows from that. What seemed to be a daunting task becomes an adventure and that adventure begins to unlock the wonder of intimacy with Jesus. While we know from scripture that we have to pick up our cross and carry it [Luke 9: 22-25], we are reluctant to respond wishing that we could put this off as well to another day, not fully appreciating that we all can expect suffering of some degree or another at any time and that Jesus is inviting us to allow him to help us carry our cross. First though, we must recognize an inconvenience or suffering as a cross and unite it to the suffering that Jesus incurred for all of us. The load suddenly gets a lot lighter because our attitude to it changes as we allow the warmth of the love of Jesus to touch us.
If your prayer life needs polishing, now is a good time to begin the process. A good place to start is to pray! Pray to the Holy Spirit and invite the Holy Spirit who lives within you to guide you as you work yourself through Lent. In stead of fasting from food or some other indulgence you allow yourself, fast from an inadequate prayer life. If we use Lent to foster in us processes and habits that we can carry forward after Easter, we will begin to glow indeed and glow we must if we are to begin to bring others to Jesus.
Happy Lent everyone and may God bless your prayer lives.