theROCK

in Prayer

In the Stillness

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The angel of the Lord said to Elijah, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by. Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting the mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and the after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken the covenant. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” 1Kings 19:11-14

So often we are compelled to look for God in the “big” things of life. This reading reminds us that God actually dwells in the small things. His presence, unnoticed, unless we are intentional about noticing it – slowing down, turning off the noise. No grand gestures. No displays of divine magnitude. God doesn’t work that way at least not since Jesus. He comes in the stillness. In the silence. Humbly. He comes through prayer. It is not by accident that we are called to focus on prayer always but especially during Lent. As a school community, we are going to be slowing down our pace on purpose to engage the school in deep prayer each morning. We are purposefully using visualization exercises to connect each individual to Jesus in prayer. We hope that the practice will become habit. God lives in the stillness that prayer provides. Additionally, Elijah remains connected to God despite those around him falling away. Turning to God makes one feel less alone. Prayer is a balm for whatever ails us. God is there.

Praying Together

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When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them… when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.” 

Like some of you, I have long held prayer as a private thing, to do by myself. Even Jesus goes off to pray by himself.   

That is not what Jesus is saying in this passage. This passage is a reminder that we should not be going through the motions with our faith. Being superficial is what Jesus means by “so that others may see them.”   

We are not excused from praying or sharing our faith in public. We are called to be authentic in our relationship with Christ. Christ didn’t shy away from performing miracles or even praying with others, and neither should we.

I cannot tell you how many times I have shared with someone something I have been struggling with, just to receive an anti-climactic “I’ll pray for you.” I was challenged three years ago to pray intentionally with others. I have seen the change it has made in my relationships. It can change your relationships too. 

Tags: prayer

Pruning

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As a Master Gardener, I have developed an appreciation for the practice of pruning. Sometimes, I prune away plants carefully in order to protect the integrity of the landscaping design. Other times, I am bold in order to promote growth where it has grown stagnant. This may be why I like Lent so much. It is my favorite liturgical season. It is an intentional time of year to prune away habits that have prevented me from being the best version of myself. It provides the time to focus on new
growth through the three pillars of praying, fasting, and almsgiving. 

Prayer helps us to connect with Jesus to truly appreciate what He has done for us and continues to do for us throughout our lives. He suffered so that we do not. Fasting helps us to remove those things from our lives that get in the way of us being the best versions of ourselves. It is more than just giving up chocolate or other tempting food. We are called to examine our lives and work to eliminate the obstacles that prevent us from loving God as we should and loving others as we should. Try to fast from bothersome behaviors that create conflict and discord. Many of us choose to fast from food to appreciate suffering and identify with the poor. Our temporary suffering due to a growling belly can be a reason to turn to God in prayer. Almsgiving helps us to support others who are not as fortunate as us. We have so much while others have little. Almsgiving requires a level of sacrifice much like fasting does. Take the money you would spend on something frivolous and unnecessary and use it to share with those in need.

 

Posted by Jill Fischer

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