Christians around the world are now entering the season of Lent, which I have always viewed as a journey of sorts. For me the journey starts on Ash Wednesday and continues through Holy Week to Good Friday, with weekly respites along the way on the Sundays of Lent. These Sunday rest stops give us a glimpse of the resurrection ahead.
One needs a good roadmap when going on a trip of any kind, and Lent is the one journey that almost demands we use an old standard kind of roadmap rather than something more technologically efficient. When my wife and I tow our travel trailer (camper), we depend on the GPS built into my smart phone. But for the Lenten journey, I have found the best roadmap is to be prayer.
Richard Foster, author of Celebration of Discipline, also wrote a wonderful book titled Prayer, which he subtitled Finding the Heart’s True Home. Foster believes that learning to pray in differing forms will assist one’s prayer life, and help persons find their way to the heart of God. Over the next four weeks, I would like to offer some form of prayer I have found to be especially helpful on my journey of faith. Let’s begin with my favorite form, what Foster calls Simple Prayer.
Foster offers some wonderful encouragement when writing about prayer. He says there is a common notion we need to immediately discount: “that we have to have everything ‘just right’ in order to pray.” I am convinced that Foster is exactly right when he explains that “we all come to prayer with a tangled mess of motives, ranging from good to bad to ugly, and everything in between.” That being said, we all need to know that God will receive us, and our prayers, in spite of our motives. The old hymn says God accepts me “Just As I Am.” So does God accept our prayers just as they are.
In Simple Prayer “we bring ourselves before God, warts and all; opening our hearts and making our requests. We share with God our frustrations with the co-worker at the office or the neighbor down the street. We ask for good weather, good health, etc.” After all, we are ordinary people, and we need to be able to bring ordinary requests before our God. We needn’t pretend to be more than we are—more holy, more pure, or more saintly than we actually are. Foster says “we should feel free to complain to God, argue with God, yell at God, cry with God, and laugh with God.”
So, will you join me for the journey of Lent? Try some Simple Prayer each day for the coming week. Do not try too hard. Simply begin with short prayers, simple prayers of every day events and life.
Rev. Dan Loomis, Senior Pastor
Carrollton First United Methodist Church