Lent and Spiritual Disciplines–Day 15

This Sunday, Jesus will tell the parable of the barren fig tree, saved by a patient gardener from being cut down. Earlier in this blog I wrote of the immense patience of God, who tends and waits, nurtures and encourages, waiting and watching every small green shoot of spiritual growth.

Much that is worth doing spiritually takes a long time. Learning to pray, for example, like any conversation, takes some time. Most of us know how to pray in desperation, when prayer becomes the heart’s deep cry for help. And sometimes after the crisis is over, we may not pray with the same openness to God’s presence, or the same persistence. Yet, we are encouraged “to pray unceasingly.”

Prayer is about relationship, a conversation, with its rhythms and silences. In Isaiah 55, this week, the prophet tells us that God calls all who are spiritually hungry and thirsty, fo come, and God will give them food and drink. It’s a promise that prayer is not empty.

At our Wednesday noon bible study, we are studying a Book of Faith resource called 40 Days with the Lord’s Prayer. It’s a beautiful book, full of encouragement and instruction in prayer, using each line of the Lord’s Prayer as a focus during each week of Lent. The text reveiws Jesus’ teaching on prayer, his advice about persistence, and proper attitude. Jesus encourages his disciples to stick with it, even though it may not seem that God is listening.

One of the greatest biblical texts that teach prayer is the Book of Psalms. In the Psalms you see petitioners praying every kind of prayer there is, and that praying itself is full of feeling. God is the conversation partner in every human mood, or endeavor. The Book of Psalms is a primer of prayer, a journey into God. Lent calls us to that journey.

The words “be still, and know that I God” remind us to slow down, to stop and pay attention to the God who is Lord of life, Lord of our life. May the stillness of deep prayer accompany you this season.

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