On Ash Wednesday, before being signed with burned palm ashes, (not fireplace ashes) we heard these words from chapter six Matthew’s Gospel:
“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”
Even though God knows everything, knows our thoughts, our actions, our questions, doubts and fears, even before we speak them, God is forever willing to listen to our prayer. In addition God asks us to take the posture of listening to Him in our prayer. There are so many ways to pray from doing what the Gospel writer suggests. Find a quiet place where you can be still before God whether that is literally in our bedrooms, in a quiet garden spot, or in the early hours of the day sit quiet watching the sun rise, being grateful for all that God gives to us, all that is, all the beauty of creation, all the beauty around us. Those moments can lead us to a deeper relationship with Christ.
In that quiet inner space we can simply sit and be, be in God’s ever loving presence, be filled with His grace and love. Filled with that grace and love we find God’s peace and with that peace move forward into the activities of our day, wherever God may take us that day; watching grandchildren, running errands, going to work, traveling for business, taking care of family or friends. The challenge in the middle of all that activity is making space and time for God. During Lent some people make it a point to participate in daily Mass at a church that is close to where you work or live. Other people may participate in a small faith sharing group, reflecting on the Sunday scriptures preparing for the coming Sunday liturgy, praying together in order to grow in faith together. Others make time to go to a church and pray the Stations of the Cross, like we did last Friday evening or pray them privately in a church. It is the closest they will ever come to walking the Via Dolorosa, the Sorrowful way in Jerusalem.
Whether we pray privately or come together regularly for communal prayer, where is that quiet time for you in the midst of your busy life? Where is that time out, from the ordinary life activities to connect with Christ? When can you make time to breathe in the presence of the Holy Spirit, to be energized with any of those seven wonderful gifts?
Like fidelity in marriage, prayer is not really an option; it is a decision to nurture growth in the spiritual life to be one of his disciples. Remember Jesus calls each of us by name to come and follow him. How will you follow him today?
Blessings – Father Larry