Don’t think about bananas…

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For the next sixty seconds, please do not think about bananas…

O.K., time’s up!  What did you think about?  If you are like most of us, it was a yellow tropical fruit.  And how is that Lenten fast coming?  It’s been a few days now.  What have you been thinking about?  Have your thoughts been consumed by visions of chocolate, a computer game, or the urge to gossip?  Perhaps your Lenten sacrifice is time to be dedicated to prayer, or scripture reading, or service.  Are you thinking about the prayer, scripture or serving or are you thinking about how you are going to get everything done now that you have dedicated that time to something else?  If we aren’t careful, our Lenten fast or sacrifice can become one big banana!

This happens when we think we can use willpower to observe Lent, or make any other change in our lives.  In her book, Paths to Prayer, Patricia Brown writes, “Willpower is not comparable to prayer. Willpower is momentary; it never sustains you in the long run. Prayer however, gives you access to infinite power with no limit….the strength we receive through fasting prayer encourages us day and night and leads us to abundant life.”  As you move through this season of Lent, remember to rely on the infinite power of prayer, and let your fast or sacrifice bring you closer to the source of that power, a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

– Jennifer Creagar

Lent

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Lent begain Wednesday and many of you are fasting from something, or have given up something for 40 days (Sundays don’t count!)  leading up to Easter.  Whatever you decided to fast on, I hope that it is something that focuses on and brings you closer to Christ as we all bear witness to the events that lead up to the death and resurrection of our Savior.  It is difficult to fast for 40 days when we try to do it casually so allow me to make a suggestion – start each morning praying for the strength you will need to endure the 40 fast just as Jesus prayed intently for strength from the Father during the days leading up to his crucifixion.   It may also be helpful for you to close each day by writing in a prayer journal as you seek to draw closer to Christ – on Easter it will surely be a blessing to look back in your journal and see how God has transformed your heart throughout the Season of Lent!   Below is a suggested daily prayer for your Lenten fast.

“God, grant me the strength to endure my fast this day as I seek to be closer to you.  May this small sacrifice of self help me to better understand the completely selfless sacrifice of my Lord Jesus Christ as he suffered on the cross for my Sin.  I pray that I would  humbly and sacrificially glorify you this day, O God.  Through Christ I pray, Amen.”

Praying For Our Enemies

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There’s no question that Jesus made a lot of enemies as his presence disrupted the power-imbalance of that time. What always fascinated me was that Jesus prayed for the very people that sought to kill him. Soon his enemies would seek to crucify him and as Jesus hangs from the cross, he utters the words, “forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). When someone deeply wrongs me, my first inclination is to angrily curse them instead of pray for them, as Jesus does here. How different Jesus’ way truly is compared to our way. I’ve counseled a number of people who have been wronged and have had a hard time finding forgiveness in their heart. As they share their stories, I often empathize with them in my mind and understand their desire for justified revenge. Yet, as I look at how the anger has consumed them, and how I think about how anger has consumed my heart in the past, I can’t help but recognize that anger and revenge is not life-giving and clearly not God’s will. Jesus offers us here the alternative of praying for the people who have wronged us instead of cursing them. If Jesus can muster up the strength to genuinely pray for the people who crucified him, surely we can find the strength to pray for those who have wronged us in ways that pale in comparison to the crucifixion. The burden and anger that is placed upon your heart will surely lift over time if you are genuinely praying for your aggressors and perhaps their heart will lighten as well through the grace of God. If you want some further perspective on this, then answer this question… Who was it that Jesus was praying for when he was being crucified on the cross for our Sin?


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