When I was a little boy, my Mum and Dad taught me ‘Hands together and eyes closed before we pray’. They explained to me that this was a way of shutting out distractions so that we could concentrate properly on our prayer. Fifty or so years later, there are many distractions in my spiritual life, and I need to practice shutting them out on a regular basis so that I can draw closer to God. These things may not all be wrong in themselves, but from time to time it is beneficial to turn away from them in order to pay closer attention to God and what God is wanting to say to me.
I think that’s what Jesus’ forty day wilderness fast was all about. Away from the noise, away from the distractions, away even from the comfort of ordinary eating and drinking, away to a place where he was utterly and completely dependent on God alone. If God didn’t come through for him, there was nothing and no one else. That’s a scary place to be, but spiritually it’s also a fruitful place to be.
Will you take up the challenge for the next six and a half weeks? Will you do your best to turn away from some of the things that distract you from God’s voice and God’s call? Will you intentionally create some empty space in your life, space that will remain empty if God doesn’t fill it? Will you join the psalmist in his prayer?
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God? (Psalm 42:1-2)
Have a holy Lent everyone. I’ll talk to you again after Easter.