Make Room: Prayer Plan

In his classic, Desiring God, John Piper recognizes that the main hindrance to prayer is our lack of planning. He tells us, “Unless I’m badly mistaken, one of the main reasons so many of God’s children don’t have a significant life of prayer is not so much that we don’t want to, but that we don’t plan to. We get up day after day and realize that significant times of prayer should be a part of our life, but nothing’s ever ready. We don’t know where to go. Nothing has been planned. No time. No place. No procedure.” How do we make prayer a more intentional part of our Lenten practice and everyday life? We can learn from three things that Jesus did: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed….(Mark 1:35). Jesus had these three, a certain time, a certain place, and a certain plan. I have attached some simple ideas for you to enhance your prayer practices. Lenten blessings.

Schedule Prayer time…

by Cathy

Make Room: Discipline the Body

During Lent, I  know that certain days are for fasting. That plan is already set for me. But what if I make a plan for fasting not only from the amount of food those certain days but also fasting from certain behaviors that would make me more aware, or a bit uncomfortable? To look inward at myself with new eyes at the actions and reactions I do each day? Taking an inventory of negative behaviors or things that I do on automatic will lead me to some possible new freedoms. I will write a list of things at the end of each day of what I said or didn’t say that was not my best; examine my body language, my reactions, my comments within conversations. Just by doing this, I will see the intentions throughout my day that I can change. As God as my center, I can fast with purpose. I can make room for discipline on all levels.

by Liz

Ash Wednesday: Make Room for Love

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of our Lenten discipline, but also coincides with Valentines’ Day, which is culturally a day of indulging our loved ones. Superficially, the two don’t seem to go together, however, digging deeper, maybe they do, for both are about expressing love. As Catholics, we concentrate during Lent on sacrifice and discipline, offering up whatever pain we feel to show our love and commitment to others and to God. We focus on the cross, not to feel sad and unworthy, but to touch the profound agape love that we seldom experience in human relationships.  It is important, as adults, that we think beyond the petty disciplines of giving up sweets or some other favorite indulgence. This year, as a community, we are challenging each other to “Make Room” to love the way Jesus does; to do some serious spiritual reckoning that might just change our lives for good. Follow our parish writers as we reflect these next forty-plus days on how we can “Make Room” for God’s love in a myriad of ways during Lent 2018.

by DC

It’s Fat Tuesday!

The roar of Christmas has faded and the Madison ad men have gone back to their offices to hatch new schemes to sustain the premise of anxious consumerism and chronic dissatisfaction that permeates our culture.  I emerge from the green respite of ordinary time and find myself today, the day before Lent begins, on the edge of the desert.  God’s invitation has brought me here. My heart and mind wonder what spiritual gifts I might glean from this journey into a wilderness where I am free to walk empty- handed and silent with you and with God toward Golgotha and the mystery of an empty tomb. I scan this naked and barren milieu seemingly devoid of life and treasure and know looks are deceiving. I will have discipline myself to see the invisible and grow from sacrifices.  Rather than being gluttonous, as many often are on Mardi Gras, today I will open my senses to the many possibilities that lie beneath the surface and make a plan for the forty days ahead. The Spirit calls me forward, and so, in faith, I take the first step.

by Andrew

Always Be Grateful

In my opinion, “grateful” is one of those words that is sometimes over-used. I’ll hear people say “Oh, I am so grateful!” when just a simple, “Gee, thanks a lot!” would do. I try to save my use of this word for something that is just about “over the top,” and of course, all of God’s gifts to us fall into that category. I do try to have many more “thank you’s” than “gimmes” in my prayers, but there are times that I do forget and just send up request after request and sometimes my petitions are even a bit silly. So beginning this week, I am going to try to pay attention to the little things that people do for me and express a sincere thank you, but I am especially going to try to remember to “always be grateful” to God for loving us unconditionally.

by JAM

All Is Well

Julian of Norwich was 30 years old on May 13, 1373, when she contracted a serious illness. She expected to die. The Black Death had ravished the countryside killing much of the population.  She prayed feverishly and was gifted with sixteen visions. In 1395, “A Revelation of Love — in Sixteen Shewings”  became the first book written by a woman published in English. This is her lovely prayer:

“Lord, let not our souls be busy inns that have no room for thee or thine, But quiet homes of prayer and praise, where thou mayest find fit company, Where the needful cares of life are wisely ordered and put away, And wide, sweet spaces kept for thee; where holy thoughts pass up and downAnd fervent longings watch and wait thy coming.”

And her famous quote:“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”  I read this quote to my wife, Kerry.  She said, “That’s like my mantra when I run.”All is well!”

by Nathaniel

Embrace The Change

Two things in life I have learned are constant: change in circumstances and constancy of God’s Love. Sometimes life changes are a result of something unwanted; someone dear to us is taken away either by death, divorce, or change in living circumstances.The aftermath can be emotionally devastating. It is in those times that I embrace God’s love deeply. Our God is a God of delightful surprises. I try to find the silver lining in the midst of the clouds. For me, clouds represent majesty, mystery, and mercy. Silver linings remind me that while this earthly experience is happening on one level, something beautiful and eternal is going on in another. When I turn to God for salvation and resurrection, my soul is enlightened by God’s grace. Some life changes bring us happiness and joy, like weddings, a newborn baby, or perhaps new job opportunities. The God experience is one of something new, a surprise, a mystery experienced as a renaissance or a reawakening in the soul of the abundant grace of God. Today, embrace the change. Be open to God’s delightful surprises!

by Gracie

Teach Me Contentment

Years ago we had to move our whole family to Florida for my husband’s job. Moving to a place where you did not know anyone, your children had no friends, and it was a completely new culture was quite a challenge. I had compared it many times to being like Israelites wandering in the desert for forty years. One day I received a card from my husband’s aunt with a caption that read “Bloom where you are planted.”  I had two choices, I could continue looking at this move as a dry, unenlivened experience or I could take the timely advice and bloom. That same day God put this Scripture before me and I realized I needed to learn the grace of contentment, grow in faith and learn to trust God. “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13) Prayer practice: Teach me Contentment.

by Cathy