Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC
Wednesday, April 13, Evening – Holy Week Day 3
By Dona Bunch
The Scarcest Thing
Read: Matthew 6:6 NIV
“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
I have a sister who has a stack of dog-eared books that she gets out every night: a Bible, a list of names and a devotional. I think that’s what they are because they are so ragged, they’re hard to identify. This is her prayer time. Invariably, she falls asleep within minutes, but if you wake her, she assures you she’s “almost done” and begins again. This process can repeat itself for some time. I often tease her that my life is a mess because she’s never reached my name before falling asleep.
Prayer is one of the three pillars of Lent, along with fasting and almsgiving. On the surface, prayer seems like the easiest of all, but for me it is the toughest by far. I can give up a favorite food. I can give to the poor. But prayer requires two of the scarcest things in our lives: time and silence.
For prayer, we must find time in our busy days to simply stop and pray. It sounds easy, but who has any spare time in their day? Work, kids, schedules, appointments, events, deadlines. We live in a society that equates busyness with accomplishment. We say we want more time, yet we become anxious if our calendars are empty.
Prayer requires not only time, but silence in the presence of God. And silence is the rarest of commodities. We’re surrounded by noise; constantly talking at work and at home, watching others talk on tv and social media, attending group activities like sports or entertainment. Even if we’re alone, we often have our earbuds connected to the latest podcast. Our world does not indulge itself in silence. Yet silence is essential to connecting with God. Not only do we need to feel like God can hear us, but we need to hear God even more. The concept of spending time in silence can seem awkward and a little daunting.
I’ve often felt like a failure at prayer. My desire is there, but I’m often in a hurry and my mind can’t keep still. Yet the thing I try to remember is that it’s OK if we have trouble focusing. My sister has shown me that it’s the effort and dedication, day after day, that matters, even if it’s not always perfect. Prayer can be hard. But if time seems nonexistent and silence is elusive, commit to prayer anyway. Even if you fall asleep, God sees you and hears you. And it’s always OK to begin again.
Lord, thank you for your willingness to listen to the concerns of our hearts. Help us seek and find the time for prayer and learn to find you in the silence.