Lenten Wrestling

Lenten Practice: Examen
Daily Act: Take inventory of your life. Use this day to pause and write down what you do daily or weekly. What is it that is most life giving in your regular schedule? Is God calling your to imagine new priorities or a different pace?
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“SEARCH MY HEART AND MAKE IT ONE WITH YOURS.”

Today’s post is written by Janné Grover, Disciple Formation Ministries Specialist for Community of Christ, and it takes us back to the foundational Lenten practice of Fasting. As you read this reflection, consider your own practice with fasting so far. As we move into the third week of Lent, what holy wrestling has occurred? What new insight has been gained?

Lenten Wrestling
By Janné Grover

Lent is one of my favorite times of year. I have grown to welcome the intentionality of prayer and fasting, the change in daily rhythm, the heightened awareness of others and the world around me, and…the wrestling. While the latter is not my favorite part of Lent, it is a process I have grown to appreciate. Let me explain.

This year, in addition to engaging regularly in Lenten practices (you may find these at www.cofchrist.org/a-guide-for-lent), I am fasting from listening to the radio while driving. I realize this is not much of a personal sacrifice, but it removes a bit of noise and clutter from my daily routine and allows me at least 40 additional minutes each day for focused thought and prayer. Yes, this is something I can do all the time, but it is a practice during Lent, which helps me focus more intentionally on what it means to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ. While most days this is a peaceful and predictable practice, I have been surprised by some challenges, which have emerged during this practice.

There is a hymn in Community of Christ Sings with an opening line that reads, “We are the ones the world awaits to live the words we pray” (305). I am confronted by the text of this hymn to consider what it means to pray for the well being of another, for an end to hunger, for peace in the world, or for clarity of thought regarding an important decision. I have wrestled with what God expects of me, and to what I am called to give my attention and energy. Sometimes I feel like Jacob coming out of his tent after wrestling with God. If I pray for something, am I supposed to be part of the answer? That’s a lot to ask, isn’t it? It almost makes me feel too overwhelmed to bother praying about anything! What does God really expect of me…one person with too much on my plate already?

And after the spiritual wrestling match is over, I begin to understand with a bit more clarity.

Praying for the well being of another doesn’t mean I can change the person’s circumstance, but it keeps me present with them in that circumstance. It reminds me of what it means to be companions on a journey. Praying for an end to world hunger doesn’t mean I have to solve the world’s systemic issues surrounding poverty and hunger, but it reminds me a solution will not miraculously happen without a willingness to examine the impact of my own choices and generosity. Praying for peace doesn’t make peace happen, but it keeps me focused on living as a presence of peace and engaged in acts of social justice, which can create pathways toward peace for others. Praying for clarity of thought reminds me to silence my inner conversation and just listen.

In and through the spiritual wrestling I am reminded that prayer changes me as much as it changes a condition for which I pray. It keeps me connected to others, to all creation, and to God. It is humbling to accept that I do not need to know or be the answer to my prayers… but if I journey in an awakened way, I am open to that possibility.

“We are the ones the world awaits to live the words we pray.”

-Edith Sinclair Downing , Community of Christ Sings #305

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