Lent Series: Prayer and Meditation

The Lenten Season gives us opportunity to reflect on who Christ is and examine our hearts as we prepare for Easter. During Lent, many practice fasting, self-denial, or increased acts of service. It is a time to repent of our sin and receive forgiveness. The ultimate goal is heart transformation – as we enter into Christ’s suffering, we become more like him. This year, we offer this Lenten blog series as a way to help you become closer to Jesus. Each post will reflect on a different spiritual discipline – some inward, others outward; some individual, others corporate. May these spiritual practices facilitate God’s formation of your soul. Today’s post was written by Sarah Bartley, one of our church members. It is heavily inspired by Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline.

 

One of the most basic assurances given to young Christians is to build their lives on God the solid rock, rather than the shifting sands of career aspiration, relationships, or popularity. Then, of course, life happens. Choices don’t pan-out as expected. At some point (perhaps at many points along the way), a circumstance knocks us off our feet and we’re left to wonder—to what am I tethered? How strong is the rope?

The Holy Spirit uses meditation and prayer like cords to tether you to God your rock.

Meditation

When you think of meditation, perhaps you imagine mindfulness. Many find that regularly emptying their mind develops focus and concentration. That, however, is not Christian meditation. In the Bible, meditation is the practice of filling the mind with God’s attributes and Word. The Holy Spirit uses this practice to usher you into God’s presence. Meditation is a gracious gift; God is made manifest in the very human imagination he created.

If quietness alludes you, consider meditation during exercise, taking a walk, commuting, or unwinding before sleep. If tasks left undone immediately spring to mind, simply write them down to address later. Then, try one of these practices:

  • Listen to Scripture with a podcast or app.
  • Read Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John and imagine the events described. Think about why people respond to Jesus the way they do.
  • Rehearse a passage of Scripture; commit it to memory.
  • Ruminate on one of God’s attributes (e.g. faithfulness): consider how God is faithful to you.
  • Imagine how various current events might bring joy or sorrow to God’s heart.
  • Express wonder at the beauty and creativity you see in nature.

Prayer

Think about how people in the Bible pray. Mary, Paul, Abraham, Jesus—their prayers are meaningfully different than mine. My prayers can be self-focused, forgetful, short on hope and expectation. But these prayers are confident, honest, direct, steeped in Scripture, and full of hope.

Reflecting on prayer’s magnitude may be more intimidating than welcoming, but it doesn’t need to be. Consider Jesus’ model in The Lord’s Prayer: “Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven.” There are, in fact, many areas of life in which we know God’s will because God has already revealed it.

We know, for example, that God loves truth, mercy, and justice. While we may not know who God intends us to marry, we know God intends marriages to be healthy, loving partnerships of mutual service. Pray these in specificity and confidence for the marriages you know. While we may not know what job God is preparing in our future, we know God intends people to work as unto him with excellence, patience, and creativity.

Let’s practice confident prayer. It may help to use a journal. Thinking of a situation that worries you:

  • Why is it concerning? Why might it pain God’s heart?
  • What do you know about God’s will in this situation?
  • Can you imagine what it might look like for the situation to be set right?
  • How might God be glorified in this situation?

Commit these thoughts and images to the Lord.

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