Building a Lenten House of Prayer from Bishop Michael Langrish
Prayer is one of the three disciplines that serves to underscore the whole Lenten season, along with fasting and almsgiving. Prayer during Lent is a way to stir up our love – for God, for others, for my true self - by having a deepening conversation with the heavenly Father who created us, loves us, and wants the best for us.
Prayer is, at heart, intentionally taking time to be alone with the Lord, that we can let down our walls and open ourselves to really be transformed and perfected in Him, sharing in His life. This gives us strength to follow Jesus faithfully and stay by His side.
The one whose whole life was most perfectly open to the Father and lived in the power of the Spirit, is of course this same Jesus. During Lent we prepare ourselves to be united with Him more fully in His death and resurrection, in the suffering of Good Friday and the joy of Easter. Union with Christ really is the point of Lent entirely. If we are united to Christ in His dying, then we share in the new life offered through His resurrection. This oneness with Him, gifted to us at the moment of our Baptism, is what we seek to renew through these 40 days as we mindfully and intentionally turn to God in all that we say and do.
This isn’t to say that prayer is always easy, and definitely doesn’t mean that it’s convenient. Most of us need help along the way. One thing to remember is that prayer does not stand alone. It is deeply and intimately related to how we sacrifice and give – praying, abstaining from something that it important to us, and increasing our concern for others, together provide three pillars of a home in which we can find ourselves drawing ever closer to Christ, who is truth, goodness, and beauty itself.
Lent is not about making yourself perfect. Lent is about uniting yourself to the One who is perfect and letting Him have your heart. And so, our prayer does not have to be perfect. God just asks that we come to Him, give Him our time, and open ourselves to new life. Most of us will treasure things that have helped us in our own walk with the Lord – it may be a verse of scripture, a hymn or verse of a hymn, a wise saying, the memory of a particular place, a few words about a particular picture or image or piece of music. It is my hope that every member of the congregations of Walberton and Binsted would be prepared to share one such thing that may be of help to others in their keeping of Lent. It may even be that you have a reflection or ‘thought for the season’ of your own to share. Whichever it is, please send your contribution through clicking on the link to our Lenten House of Prayer on the St Mary’s website Home page. Through Lent a new contribution will then be posted each day for us all to use in prayer to strengthen our union both with Christ and with one another.
I’ll leave you with these consoling words from St. Josemaria Escriva, who reminds us not to be too worried about the shape of our prayer but just to be resolved in our effort: