We are entering a season of preparation, both as a school community and as the church at large. Today marks the beginning of Lent, a time when we look forward to Easter while remembering all the events that led up to Jesus' death and resurrection. Like Advent, it's a time of waiting. A time for God's people to remember the bigger story we are a part of.
Personally, I always feel a little unsure what to do with Lent. Some years I have read devotionals that go along with the season, and sometimes I pick something to "give up", as I know many Christians do, but I'm not sure I've ever landed on any rhythms that really felt overly impactful. I find myself wondering if there is something more I could or should do to fully embrace Lent.
Then again, maybe sometimes I'm looking for experiences that are full of meaning beyond what is reasonable. After all, what would it really mean for me to "go all out" in doing Lent? Do a more extreme fast? Commit to daily reading the Gospels leading up to Easter? Perhaps memorize some Scripture passages?
While any of these things may be great ideas, I wonder if what matters more is what is happening within my heart as I do whatever it is I decide to do for Lent. What good is it anyway if I'm fasting just to check something off of my how-to-be-a-good-Christian list?
I recently read Henri Nouwen's book "The Way of the Heart", and in it he shares about the importance of practicing what he calls "the prayer of the heart". He asks the question, "How can we, who are not monks and do not live in the desert, practice the prayer of the heart?" In other words, how do we learn to cultivate prayer deep within ourselves as we go about our regular lives?
According to Nouwen, "ministry can be fruitful only if it grows out of a direct and intimate encounter with our Lord." It feels freeing and also challenging to consider that the most important thing I can do to effectively share Jesus with other people is to simply intentionally be with Jesus. When I make space in my heart for Him, then I truly have something to give.
Now ironically it seems the only way to make this space in my heart is by engaging in some kind of practices - things like fasting, praying or memorizing Scripture. The reality is that these actions themselves have a way of shaping my heart. I suppose I need transformation both in my heart and through my actions. And I need to somehow find a way to make time and space for this transformation within my regular, everyday life.
If intimacy with God grows out of things like silence and solitude, then I need to find a way to be still. Is it possible to be still even while I'm doing things? To borrow a phrase from Emily P. Freeman, can I learn to sit down on the inside? To cultivate a stillness within my heart? To pray as I go throughout my day?
Maybe God isn't calling many of us to stop everything and sit in silence for 5 hours a day. But what could He be asking us to do in this season to go deeper with Him? To adopt a posture of our hearts that makes room for communion with Him? Is there one step we could take to move in this direction?
While the Church at large begins the season of Lent, ACSD is preparing for another day coming this spring. It's our annual Serve-a-Thon, when all the students, along with teachers and parent volunteers, spend a whole day serving people in various places around our community. Prayer matters immensely in preparing for this day. If we want others to experience God's love through our serving, we need our own hearts to be deeply connected to Him. Let's ask God together to move us all toward deeper communion with Him.
Artwork by: Michelle Glick, BCS Parent
Pray with me ...
... Lord, draw each student, teacher and parent closer to You as we prepare for Serve-a-Thon
Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul. Psalm 143:8
... Father, show us what we can do to cultivate hearts that commune with You
Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1
... God, may our service on Serve-a-Thon day flow out of hearts that are filled with Your love
I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses all knowlege - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19
Starting today (Wednesday March 2), I will be hosting a short time of prayer over zoom from 12:15-12:30pm. The format will be very simple: listen to some Scripture and/or written prayers, followed by an open time of "popcorn prayer", and close with a reading of The Lord's Prayer. All are welcome - just click here to join the call.
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and pray for Alliance Christian School District! Lord willing, I plan to publish a new blog post weekly on Wednesdays throughout the school year. Feel free to subscribe (at the bottom of this page) if you'd like to be notified each time a new blog post has been published. We also have a prayer team that is always open for new pray-ers to join. If you'd like to learn more, email me at email@example.com.
~ Carrie Warner, ACSD Prayer Team Coordinator
Soli Deo Gloria To God alone be the glory