Open your mind. Open your eyes. Open your heart. If the eyes of your mind and heart are not fully opened, there could be endless love that you are not aware is present.
Lent is first and foremost about my relationship with God. It hasn’t always been that way. Sometimes I have managed to completely miss the point of Lent. Giving up something was only a minor inconvenience while counting down the number of days until it was over! Selfish, huh? It didn’t challenge me, and it certainly didn’t help me grow in my faith. I would often get so preoccupied with the fasting part of Lent that I wasn’t receptive to the spiritual aspect of Lent. I can diet or fast only for so long before my body demands to be fed. My spiritual malnutrition is no different.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Matthew 22:36-38
Twelve years ago, during Lent 2007, I made the decision to follow Jesus Christ through prayer of redemption, peace and forgiveness. I fasted from a life of destruction. Every action, I prayed for others to see Him in me. Every word, I spoke with perseverance. My spiritual awakening began from accepting an invitation to St. Mark’s Church. It was at SMC where I learned about the empty cross and the path of redemption. My church became my second family. With my previous religious upbringing, I did not have a relationship with Jesus Christ or with other believers.
I want to know Christ ~ yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death. Philippians 3:10
What better time to go on a journey of discovery to get to know God better. With this sense of urgency and if I don’t get to know God better, I wouldn’t get to know myself better. When we don’t know God, we don’t learn about our issues. Right? I’ve endured because of my faith, but I question “what if there is more?” There is no better time than right now to be still and know God through my fasting. Isn’t this the best thing that can happen to us? When the Lord meets us in our quiet times and talks to us, we will learn something about God’s love and mercy. Not just during Lent but every day.
In the Book of Hosea, God tells His people “I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Above all else, God desires that we love Him and know Him. When Jesus is fasting in the desert, He is tempted several times by the Devil. In the last of these temptations, the Devil leads Jesus up a mountain and shows Him all the kingdoms of the world (Matthew 4:8-10). “All these I will give you”, the devil says, “if you bow down and worship me.” Yet Jesus responded, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only Him.’”
Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel… that’s exactly what I prayed during Lent 2007.
Since my old days of fasting from one of my bad habits, I desired anticipating the “Coming of Christ” by learning how “My ABC’s Will Lift My Spirit,” by Iyanla Vanzant.
I now open my heart and mind to be aware
Almighty Creator of the Universe;
Beloved Father, God;
Create in me a clean heart this day.
Deliver me from the limitations of the ego.
Exalt Your Presence in my mind.
Forgive all that I have held against you, myself and others.
Grant me peace this day.
Hold me steadfastly within the boundaries of your truth.
Inspire my heart to know you, my ears to hear you and my eyes to recognize you.
Justify me in the presence of all enemies.
Knead my heart with words of kindness.
Let no harm befall me or my loved ones.
May all I do this day glorify you.
Nourish me with your wisdom.
Open my eyes to know your truth.
Purge my heart of all things that are offensive to your law.
Quiet my soul during confusion.
Renew my connection to you.
Save me from my secret fears.
Teach me to trust you at all times.
Use all that you have given me to serve you.
Victory for your cause is my desire.
Walk with me so that my strength will never be diminished.
Xamine my heart continually.
Your love and grace are my good fortune.
Zealously I commit myself to your will for my life.
Just for today, practice making each letter in the alphabet come alive in your life. The purpose of the commitments you make during Lent isn’t to drop them the moment Lent is over. Fasting, yes, but they’re meant to be a solid foundation for living out your faith every day! Will you remember your ABC’s? Use fasting to break free from anything that is holding you back in your relationship with God.
Lent is an incredible spiritual opportunity to start (or re-start) practices that take you deeper in your relationships with God and with the people around you. Don’t miss this opportunity… Living Lent with Purpose.