While Lent begins with a visible sign of Jesus’ death (ashes on my forehead), it is an annual reminder that He continues to bring me life. Lent is also the most powerful time of the year to emphasize my personal relationship with God daily in my prayers. During Lent, I think more about the expression “we are dust and unto dust we shall return.” I am reminded how much I am loved by His Passion, and of His death for my salvation. I don’t find this to be an easy task, but have learned over many years just to accept it. My relationship with my Savior is indeed a mystery, but by focusing my thoughts on His redemptive actions I can better concentrate on individual prayers. For example, Jesus stated to the father of a child he healed “Fear is useless; what is needed is trust.” I have adapted these words to my own devotional incantation by repeating the statement “trust over fear” during the breathing exercise I do each day as part of my atrial fibrillation routine.
My prayers generally take the form of a conversation with God about the many injustices in life, physical and emotional hurt friends are suffering, and my selfish desires. I sometimes fear I am delivering God a list of complaints, and would He somehow provide a path of understanding and ultimately provide compassion and a remedy for those in need. In fact, God is my best friend, and I talk to him not only with thankful reverence, but with a desire that I and others may experience a deeper inward conversion of heart thereby leading to a closer relationship and stronger sense of love.
William Arthur Ward, author, teacher and preacher wrote a narrative which centers on the enigma of Lenten fasting and Easter feasting. I read it frequently, and often find new interpretations within each expression. A selection of my favorite lines follows:
“Holy Spirit, teach me how to:
Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.
Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
Fast from worry; feast on trust.
Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal truth.”