Lent begins tomorrow....40 days of sacrifice leading up to Easter Sunday (which this year also happens to be my Birthday!!!). To be honest, even though I have celebrated Lent for the past several years, I haven't really put a lot of thought into WHY we do it. In fact, until today I pretty much thought that the only reason why you give something up for the "holiday" is because through "suffering" we are more closely connected with Christ in His suffering. While I still think a part of that is true, after doing a little research today, I realized there's more to it.
Lent is also a time of repentance, prayer and self-examination....a time to purify and prepare ourselves to celebrate the greatest gift that was ever given...the gift of Salvation and new life in Christ! Lent isn't all about US and our ability to deny ourselves, it's about GOD and what HE gave for us! With that said, this year I decided that I wanted to approach Lent more as an opportunity...a chance to deepen my relationship with God....to focus myself on who HE is and to spend my 40 days of sacrifice in worship to Him. So while I will still be "giving up" something, my sacrifice is more about "Doing" something. And thus for the next 40 days I am going to commit to praying "the hours".
Now this is NOT my original idea....in fact up until a few hours ago I still had know idea what I was going to do this year. Then I received an emailed copy of my church's weekly blog with a link to a blog post written by Rachel Held Evans during last years Lenten season. I enjoy Rachel's writing very much (in fact I'm almost done reading her 2nd book "The year of Biblical Womanhood" and HIGHLY recommend both it and her previous book, "Evolving in Monkeytown"), which is why I clicked on the link, and "Praying the hours" is one of the things she suggested doing in it. I had already been considering focusing more on "doing" something this year anyway, and so upon reading her post, this idea certainly resonated the most with me.
To be honest, while my prayer life has certainly grown through out the years, a lot of times it mostly consists of what I can talk to God about while driving from one place to another through out my day. It's a quick thought that escapes my mouth as I pull out of the driveway when I recognize that I'm not the best driver in the world and thus I need God's protection. Or a short request when I'm having a bad day and think the world just doesn't understand me. It's a one second well wish for a friend or a "thank you I made it through the day" praise while climbing into bed. But, I think prayer is suppose to be something more than that....something more consistent....more...a way of life....a constant remembering and praying to God through out our day. Praying "The hours"... or praying in the morning, afternoon, evening and night.... refocuses our minds back on God and reminds us that life is really about HIM and for Him.
I can think of no better way to spend Lent then....than by purposely and intentionally seeking God throughout my day by setting a part time to pray. It's certainly going to take sacrifice for me to do this. For one thing I am not a morning person, so getting up early enough to pray before having to rush to get ready and head out the door, will be a sacrifice. I also like to spend my nights falling asleep to a good book (aka forcing myself to stay awake as long as possible to read just one more page) and thus I'm going to have to deny that impulse and instead consciously choose to close the book and seek God before my eyes are too heavy to stay open... another sacrifice. It may mean re-arranging my afternoon plans in order to take time to pray around lunch and it may mean having to miss dinner in order to get alone to be with God, but in the end it's a sacrifice...a giving up of something...and a doing....in remembrance and repentance to God, whom it's all about!