Scripture (Matthew 6:7-15)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
"This is how you are to pray:
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
"If you forgive men their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions."
Today we are finishing the first week of Lent.
How's it going so far?
It seems a good time to check in already... am I still fasting, praying, and/or giving in the way(s) I had intended? Is my sacrifice a reasonable challenge? Am I struggling each day? Have I "cheated" or given up? Am I experiencing God's grace in a more direct or profound way than I typically experience God's presence in my life? Or, has Lent this year been more-or-less like every other year? Is Lent, especially a week in, after the reminder of our ashes have faded, just another season?
It's easy in life for many things to become routine and ordinary. In certain ways this is a true blessing... most of us don't want to think about how to brush our teeth or put on our shoes.
But in other ways, the rote nature of our daily tasks, including our Lenten prayer, do not serve us well.
Take for example, the Our Father. In today's Gospel, Jesus teaches us how to pray. For most of us, we know these words so well. We can recite them easily, without any thought at all. But the challenge, I think, is to become present to these words on a daily basis. Just as the challenge is to be present, daily, to our Lenten promises. Because if we do each of these two things, our world will change. Our hearts will change, and God's kingdom will come.
"Give us this day..." a renewed focus on our Lenten practice.
- What practices in my life of faith have become rote? What can I do to shake things up?
- Do I need to update my Lenten promise? It's better to modify than to give up!
- What does it mean when I say, "Our Father"? How might meditating on these words alone change my heart? my family? our society?
Spend some time praying with intention the words that Jesus taught us. Ask God to deepen your experiences with prayer, fasting, and almsgiving this Lent.
Laura is the campus minister at Messmer High School. She is blessed to accompany young people as they grow in their lives of faith, service, and leadership.