Today is Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of Lent. It is a time that many Christians take to prepare themselves leading up to the celebration of Easter. I have heard of those who are giving up things like chocolate, Facebook, Coke, or some other daily habit during this time.
Lent is not something my church tradition has observed. But I have grown increasingly curious to look at it more the past couple of years. After reading Margaret Feinberg‘s book, Wonderstruck, I have decided to take the next 40 days as a time to focus my prayer life.
Margaret writes about how she fell in love with this time of Lent. She talks about God leading her to give up prayer… at least prayer in the form that she had grown accustomed – lengthy prayers. God had instructed her to shorten her prayers to three words. Imagine that! Condensing every prayer down to three words. I don’t know if my brain has the vocabulary or creativity to accomplish that kind of prayer.
During Lent, I’m not going to cut my prayers down to three words but I am going to cut out praying for my personal needs over the next 40 days. Jesus says in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.” (New Century Version). I’ve been noticing how much my praying is focused on me… my needs… my wants… I have made prayer about me and not about Jesus.
Jesus says if we will seek God’s kingdom first – what He wants – THEN our other needs will be met. It seems like I have had my prayer life backward. Praying for my needs and not necessarily seeking first God’s kingdom. Over the next 40 days I want to grow closer to God and I want to get to know Him on a deeper level in the power of His Holy Spirit through prayer.
Oswald Chambers states,
The goal of my spiritual life is such close identification with Jesus Christ that I will always hear God and know that God always hears me (see John 11:41). If I am united with Jesus Christ, I hear God all the time through the devotion of hearing. A flower, a tree, or a servant of God may convey God’s message to me. What hinders me from hearing is my attention to other things. It is not that I don’t want to hear God, but I am not devoted in the right areas of my life. I am devoted to things and even to service and my own convictions. (My Utmost for His Highest, February 13).
Over the next 40 days I want my life to be marked by being devoted to the right things. To the pursuit of walking in His presence. How are you going to spend these days leading up to the celebration of Easter?