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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, March 1, 2020  

Today’s Hymn

So Daniel trained his mystic sight,
delivered from the lions’ might;
and John, the Bridegroom’s friend, became
the herald of Messiah’s name.

Then grant that we like them be true,
consumed in fast and prayer with you;
our spirits strengthen with your grace,
and give us joy to see your face.

“The Glory of These Forty Days” (vv. 3–4)
by Gregory the Great (6th cent.); trans. Maurice F. Bell (1906)
Hymn 165, Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

Fasting and prayer. I have to admit I have an antagonistic relationship with fasting, I have not always used it to good ends. The same could be said of my relationship to prayer, for that matter. But while I’ve come to peace with prayer, and now embrace it as a cornerstone of my spiritual practice, my gut response to fasting is still a firm “No.” I do recognize its usefulness. I may even choose to try it again. But I would come at it differently if I did so.

How would I do this? By asking questions, mostly of myself. By looking to the wisdom literature of multiple faiths. But I am also an unremittingly practical person and measure everything by its results. So I would try it and then ask, What are the fruits of this practice for me? Does it help me to do justice, seek mercy, and walk humbly with God? Does it help me love God with all my heart and love my neighbor as myself? Or does it keep me from those things?

Lent is a wonderful time to evaluate our spiritual practices. What are yours? Have you reconsidered them over time? What has worked for us previously might no longer, and one that has not been useful in the past might now. God calls constantly for our renewal—and that includes the things we do in God’s name.

Gracious God, may I be open to new things as they serve you, letting your grace guide and strengthen me in doing so. Amen.

Written by Anne Ellis, Program Manager for Congregational Life

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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