Praying Lent

“I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word…”

These words, said during the Ash Wednesday service, mark the beginning of Lent. This season of preparation for Easter, in which we remember Jesus’ life; his ordeal in the wilderness, his arrest, trial, crucifixion, death and ultimately on Easter his triumph over death, has long been seen as a time to focus on our relationship with God, examining our lives, finding those things that separate us from God and, through grace, turning and beginning anew. One of the primary ways we cultivate a relationship with God, we connect and communicate with God, is through prayer. I like to think of prayer as “catching the Divine wave” or tuning into a conversation that was begun long ago and continues within us. It is consciously, deliberately being in God’s presence.

Prayer can be an intimidating thing. We may worry about not having enough time, not knowing what to do or say, or about what we might feel or hear. The good news is that it is easy to begin and there are most definitely no “right” or “wrong” prayers, it does not necessarily take hours and hours and, most importantly, the One with whom you are choosing to spend time loves you.

Some forms of prayer are as easy as breathing- breathe in to one word like “Jesus” or “God” and out to another word or phrase like “thank you” or “be with me”. For people who are active, yoga or running can be a form of and time of prayer. There are many, many books with prayers in them; one of the best is our own Book of Common Prayer which you can find in the pews at St. Peter’s. Others that I find particularly helpful are Common Prayer by Shane Claiborne, Daily Prayers for Busy People by William J. O’Malley, and Celtic Daily Prayer from the Northumbria Community. Some of the best prayers, however, are in your own words. Simple expressions of how you feel, what your fears or hopes or dreams are, what you may want God to do in and through you. Or prayer can be wordless-simply sitting in silence. I used to think, when I saw couples out for dinner not really talking to each other, that it was such a sad thing. Now I realize that perhaps what I was witnessing was two people so comfortable with each other they were simply enjoying being in each other’s presence- no words necessary. That too can be a form of prayer- simply sitting with God, basking in each other’s company.

Of course, just like any other discipline, prayer needs to be practiced. Many forms of prayer can be, need to be, practiced alone. Not so for others. Click here to learn more about the Lenten programs at St. Peter’s. No experience is needed for any of these offerings.

In the name of the church, I invite you to a holy Lent; a time of prayer, a time with God that leads to richness of life and the fullness of Easter joy.