Beginning on March 1, Lent starts. The thought of giving something up for forty days isn't the most enticing thought for anybody. I know that I haven't always been committed to this idea, but this year I've made the decision to give up coffee. It doesn't seem like a big deal but if you know me, you know that I love to drink that good n' tasty stuff. I think it's important and quite crucial to make the sacrifice to give up something that we love because it serves as a reminder of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. Thinking about Jesus reminds me about the unreal relationship that he had with his father when he prayed.
In my childhood, I grew up with the understanding that prayer was used at three places: church, the dinner table, and at my bed. At church, prayer happened for confession and before and after the sermon. Oh, and that really long prayer that can sometime put you to sleep. During meals, we prayed for a blessing on our food and it went something like,
"Lord, bless this food. For Jesus' sake. Amen"
Occasionally we would say the Lord's Prayer and hold hands around the table. When I was really little, my father would come with me to my bedside and before I went to sleep, prayed,
"Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord, my soul to keep. Guide me safely through the night
and wake me with the morning's light. Amen"
As I grew older I began to learn more about how to pray what it means to pray. I began to realize that praying is more like having conversation with God, but it still felt like I was talking on the phone with a broken earpiece. I realized that God speaks in other ways other than physically speaking. We can hear him speak through his creation, his people, but we can hear him the most through his word. In Psalm 29 (link here: http://bit.ly/2m5gkCQ) David proclaims the power of the voice of God, declaring that his is powerful and majestic. And indeed, it is.
Crazy things can happen when you talk with the big man upstairs. Answers to prayer requests might not take form immediately nor may God have the answer that we want, but an answer will come if you ask and keep asking; knock, and keep knocking. A good friend once said to me that praying is like planting seeds in the ground. They seeds will not bear fruit immediately because they are yet seeds, but will grow into plants that will bear fruit. Going to Dordt is a huge financial challenge for me. I never know if I'd be able to go to school the following semester until two weeks before the current semester ends. Right now, I don't know if I'll be here for my junior year. So I continually pray about this, and somehow there have always been financial provision, enabling me to not only continue my studies but to live and thrive in this community. It's nuts.
Crazy things happen when you pray, for sure, but crazier things happen when you pray together. Praying over each other in the same space enables vulnerability to take place, breaks down preconceived barriers, removes prejudices, and softens hearts. Many times I have experienced this and I'll give you an example. Every other Sunday evening we have a worship service called GIFT: Growing In Faith Together. Now, once a semester, both Dordt College and Northwestern College (the two rival schools in the area) meet together for GIFT. Last semester, the combined GIFT was particularly powerful. After the speaker had finished the message, the worship team had begun to play the students were asked to find groups of people from the opposite school and pray with each other and for each other. Praying over people from rival schools and having them pray over you broke down those rivalries. Instead of competing against one another, rivalries were laid down and real, whole community began to take form.
Spending time with Jesus is so good, and yet we see our lives as too full, too busy to talk to even spend a few minutes with him. Practice praying out loud. Keep a prayer journal. Meditate on scripture. As you pass by others, say a quick prayer for them. Quiet yourself to become more attentive to his presence and to his voice.
Beginning on March 1, Lent starts and Dordt's campus will be focused on prayer for forty days. Twenty-four seven. The idea is that the people at Dordt (students, staff, and faculty) would book a time slot within a Google document (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/13lhaXUb4OZ3-9yDN2NbCF-HpYtEPKUfvtkemqi4qzfc/edit#gid=992776161) and spend time in prayer for half an hour to an hour in the Prayer Room on campus for the campus, the Church, and the nations. I will be participating in this and I encourage you to join with me on this. It's a great opportunity to talk with Jesus because the more time we spend with him, the more we become like him.
Totes muh gotes and blessings,