138 – A Lenten Prayer – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

Did you make room during these past days for the Lenten Prayer we shared last week?  How did it go?

I have to confess that I did not make time everyday to pray it but I did on several days and I learned (and relearned) a few things.

One day, as I prayed my way over the words, the phrase “Fast from hostility; feast on nonviolence” jumped at me.  As I stopped and thought about it, I was bothered by the word “nonviolence.” I do not see my self as a violent person.  Maybe “bothered” is not the right way to express my feelings.  I felt downright defensive.  Then as I stayed still a moment, my thoughts came back to a moment the day previous when I was very short with someone.  Are short, sharp words hostile and violent? I had to admit, yes.  That evening, I looked back over the day and while I cannot say I was “perfect” that day, I do think I was slower to speak and that was a good thing.

This week I was praying over the words of the prayer one morning and also thinking about how busy a couple of days were going to be, and it was hard for me to settle on a single phrase because so many grabbed my attention.  Then I read, “Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.”  That was it!  I knew I needed prayer those days.  For me unceasing prayer often takes the form of the Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy.”  That day, especially, those words were not far from me.  I found them coming back to me again and again.  And that was a very good thing, because otherwise the day was not one of my best.

Here’s a question.  And it is not about one prayer or another.  What does spending time in quiet prayer near the beginning of a day do for you during the day?  What do you take from those moments of prayer and stillness with God?  Is there time for a morning prayer and maybe an evening prayer but no return to that stillness and quiet during the day?

What has surprised me and continues to surprise me and give me reason to rejoice is how often prayer returns to me during the day without my bidding.  In part I suspect it has always been near, but maybe I sometimes am just better at noticing it.

What might you notice today, if you give yourself the room?

Fast from judging others;
feast on the Christ indwelling in them.

Fast from emphasis on differences;
feast on the unity of all life.

Fast from apparent darkness;
feast on the reality of light.

Fast from words that pollute;
feast on phrases that purify.

Fast from discontent;
feast on gratitude.

Fast from anger;
feast on patience.

Fast from pessimism;
feast on optimism.

Fast from worry;
feast on trust.

Fast from complaining;
feast on appreciation.

Fast from negatives;
feast on affirmatives.

Fast from unrelenting pressures;
feast on unceasing prayer.

Fast from hostility;
feast on nonviolence.

Fast from bitterness;
feast on forgiveness.

Fast from self-concern;
feast on compassion for others.

Fast from personal anxiety;
feast on eternal truth.

Fast from discouragement;
feast on hope.

Fast from facts that depress;
feast on truths that uplift.

Fast from lethargy;
feast on enthusiasm.

Fast from suspicion;
feast on truth.

Fast from thoughts that weaken;
feast on promises that inspire.

Fast from idle gossip;
feast on purposeful silence.

Gentle God,
during this season of fasting and feasting,
gift us with your presence
so we can be a gift to others in carrying out your work.

(William Arthur Ward (1921-1994))



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