Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving

Today I’m reflecting on this quote about fasting:

14 Lent--week 2--fasting--Wallis (click on image to enlarge)

Fasting and prayer go hand in hand. As others have pointed out, “fasting without prayer is simply starvation.”

In the Christian faith tradition, prayer, fasting and almsgiving are a united trio –or ought to be.  For many, this trio of spiritual practices is an emphasized theme during Lent. When people fasted, time was saved in food preparation–and that time could be spent in prayer. The food they saved was given to the hungry. (Monks actually made extra loaves of bread to give to the poor during Lent.)

Thought to ponder:
How do you practice this “spiritual trio” during Lent?

Until next time, Amen! 

 

 

 

Connection between fasting and prayer

Thought for today…about fasting and prayer (my underline):

14 Lent--week 2--fasting--Wallis(click on image to enlarge)

I’m thinking it’s not that God “needs” our fasting, but perhaps the fasting, along with prayer during the fasting period, makes us more dedicated to our prayer intention or paying attention to God. Perhaps the fasting process could be used in such a way to remind us to pay attention to God.

I’m pretty horrible at fasting. I’m wondering if any of you have found fasting and prayer to work together well. What are your thoughts? Experiences?

Until next time, Amen! 

 

The True Spirit of Fasting

Today’s quote focuses on our attitude and how we conduct ourselves while fasting:

13 Lent--week 2--fasting--Cassian

I’m thinking Cassian was reminding the monks that their spiritual practice of fasting wasn’t really of value if they were hurting one another with their actions. It sounds as if he is saying: “What good is your fasting if you are turning up your anger volume in the meantime?”

Put another way, our Lenten practices should help us to grow in the Spirit in such a way that the fruit is kindness, mercy, love, etc. towards our neighbor. As our love for God grows, our love of neighbor out to be growing as well.

At least, that’s my musings on this quote.  Any one have other ideas? I welcome your comments below.

Until next time, Amen! 

 

Lent and Fasting

This week, I’ll be posting quotes related to the Christian practice of fasting. Fasting can take on many forms (for example, some people fast from social media or television during Lent). When it comes to food, I’m the LAST person who can teach you anything about fasting! So keep in mind, I am definitely using these quotes to preach to myself, to reflect about the spiritual practice…to help myself grow while sharing with you.

Today’s quote from Matthew 6 reminds us what kind of attitude we are supposed to have while fasting.

12 Lent--week 2--fasting--Matthew 6 (click on image to enlarge)

Whatever your Lenten practice, this has wisdom for how we are to conduct ourselves during this season of spiritual renewal. It’s a good reminder that we are not trying to “look better” or act “holier-than-thou” around others.

Until next time, Amen! 

Prayerful meditation–quote from J.I. Packer

Thought for the day. . . about Christian meditation. . .

11 Lent--Week 1--Prayer--Packer

Christian forms of meditation aim at paying attention to God, or at least sitting quietly in the presence of God and allowing grace to work in the soul (whole person). This quote from J. I. Packer is “packed” with meaning for me (no pun intended!).

Until next time, Amen! 

Pray is the wing…and prayer is an eye

Here’s a thought for the day, about prayer:

10 Lent--Week 1--Prayer--Ambrose

Ambrose reminds us that prayer is a tool to bringing the soul into contact with the heavenly realm of God. Although God is always present (omnipresent), we are not always present and paying attention to God. When we pray, we are bringing ourselves into the presence of God.

Ambrose also speaks of Christian meditation as an “eye” with which we see God. To meditate on something, in this sense, is to ponder things in one’s heart in a prayerful manner. Some people meditate on a bible passage or particular truth of Christian belief (such as a portion of the Creed). Others meditate about the everyday events of their lives and how God is at work in those experiences, while writing in a journal, taking a walk, or sitting in a chapel. There are many diverse forms of Christian meditation (Christian “devotions” are a type of meditation).

Whatever way you like to pray, may God continue to bless you with the “wings” and “eyes” of prayer.

Until next time, Amen!

 

 

The Holy Spirit’s Work in Prayer

Sometimes we are tempted to stop praying because it “doesn’t seem like anything is happening.” That is, our prayer may feel boring, confusing, or useless. Sometimes these are just the normal phases of our own moods at work. It might be that God is inviting us to begin praying in a renewed or different way.( For example, some people pray while walking, write prayers in a journal, join a prayer group, meditate on bible passages, or like to pray in silence.)

These words of Evagrius, famous Christian of the 4th century, bring me comfort at those times when my prayer seems “boring” or “ineffective.”

08 Lent--Week 1--Prayer--Evagrius Ponticus (click on image to enlarge)

In the quotation above, Evagrius refers to some mysterious process happening inside us when we pray–some invisible action deep in our souls.  When someone prays, even if alone in his or her room, that person is not really alone. The Holy Spirit, the very presence of God in our midst, is with the praying soul.

When we open our hearts to God in prayer, the Holy Spirit is at work in our souls, in our whole persons, transforming us, like water slowly dripping on a rock. The Holy Spirit also fills us with the spirit of love and compassion for others during prayer time. As a result, this Spirit of Love also draws us more deeply into relationship with God and other people, a kind of communion with God and each other.

So, no matter how “futile” your prayer might feel, continue to pray. It’s important not to give up. If you think God is inviting you to a newer way of praying, seek out that new way–just so long as you keep praying. (Oftentimes, a spiritual director can help you seek out the way of praying that God is inviting you to at this point in your life.)

So, “keep on praying” . . . and until next time,  Amen!