The First Week of Lent

Prayer is a powerful thing.  We all profess to believe in the power of prayer.  We pray for our church and each other every Sunday.  The “Prayers of the Church” after the sermon, direct our prayers to larger global issues.  We pray for the law enforcement and emergency responders who help us in a time of need.  We pray for our political leaders.  We pray for more rain, or less rain.  And after every refrain we ask “God in your mercy – hear our prayer”.

But the real prayers, the heartfelt ones, come when we sit quietly either in our homes or out in nature and don’t do anything but pray.  Just quietly commune with God.  Prayer shouldn’t be a list of things we want God to take care of for us.  “God, be with Joe, help me with my work, ease my husband’s back pain, and keep my parents healthy”.  It’s not supposed to be a shopping list.  Prayer should be a dialogue with God, not a monologue of our ailments and complaints that we want God to fix.

A dialogue means each party takes turns speaking.  First you, then me.  Or in this case, first us, then God.  Now I’m not suggesting that we’re all going to see a burning bush in our backyard, showing us that God is talking.  But I do believe if we sit quietly after we have told God what concerns us, what worries us, what troubles us, that God will come into our hearts and if not an answer, at least give us Peace.  And we may hear that ‘little small voice’ suggesting something we can do to make things better for ourselves or others.  That small voice might just be God speaking to us – guiding our thoughts.

Maybe that’s God telling us to make the casserole for Joe’s family.  Have you ever had that feeling that you were suddenly supposed to go do something in particular?  You’re going grocery shopping for the family, and halfway through the produce aisle, out of nowhere, you decide to pick up a bunch of bananas and take them to the older woman who lives next door.  When you get home and walk over to your neighbor’s house with the bananas, she’s so glad to see you, she invites you in for a cup of tea.  She tells you she’s been feeling particularly blue because today would have been her husband’s 80th birthday and she misses him.  And then she tells you something you never knew.  Her husband worked in a grocery store for most of their married life.  And once a week he would bring her a bunch of bananas because she loved to put them on her cereal.  She hasn’t been able to get out lately due to the cold, and she had really been missing her husband and the bananas he always brought her.  And there you sit with a bag of bananas on your lap.  Cold chills …. but you realize you were guided there by God.

God can’t guide us if we’re constantly talking or texting someone else.  We have to stop and pay attention to His words.  We have to pause and let Him enter our thoughts.  Prayer is one of the best ways to do that.  We deliberately open our minds to be guided by God so we can go where He wants to lead us.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, help me keep my mind open to Your plans for me.  Let me be guided by You this week.  In Jesus’ name I ask it….. Amen

Thanks to Sylvia P. Greeson for this devotion.

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