Step #1: Lectio / Read
Click the link below or open your Bible to the passage and read through the reading at least once, paying attention to what is happening in the text.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
Hello, my name is Chris, and I’m addicted to peanut butter.
It started simple. One evening, as I was reaching for a bowl of ice cream, I thought I’d make a “healthier” choice by eating a heaping spoonful of peanut butter instead (little did I know that my sweet, creamy peanut butter isn’t a whole lot healthier than a small bowl of frozen yogurt… oops). It turns out that peanut butter is more delicious than I thought, and now, I have to resist the urge to grab a spoon each time I walk past the pantry where the peanut butter lives. I am a slave to peanut butter.
Now, I’m (mostly) joking about my peanut butter addiction, and yet, I think most people have had a similar experience of a “little slavery.” Sometimes it’s an addiction to junk food, Netflix or wanting the new iPhone 11. It could be obsessing over your clothing or appearance. Or maybe it’s desperately trying to prove your worth in sports, academics, arts. If there’s anything in your life that you can’t quite bring yourself to get rid of, unless it’s something that brings life to your relationship with God and others, then that’s a slavery. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. I think if we’re honest, we’re all stuck in some “small slavery” or another, and as a whole, we can’t find our own ways to get free.
In the first reading today, St. Paul wrote, “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? … =”
St. Paul uses the strong metaphor of slavery to convey just how completely God the Father wants your heart. God wants you to be a “slave,” not to Netflix, but to Him. God, our Master, is not a cruel tyrant who wants something from you; He is a Father who wants righteousness, or right relationship. He you to give your whole self over to him without conditions and without fear so that He can make you His child, whole and free. The slavery of God is not oppression; it’s the freedom of a son who can run and leap into the Father’s arms because he completely trusts his Dad.
When we present ourselves over and over to the things that keep us enslaved, we become stuck, hopeless, and lifeless. But when we present ourselves to the Father, we gain lasting freedom. If you take a few moments every day to acknowledge your little slaveries before God, and then say to Him, “I trust you completely. You have my whole life, even the places where I’m enslaved,” then you will see your attitude, your habits, and your whole life changed by grace.
If we can honestly and consistently present ourselves, enslaved as we are, to God in prayer, He has promised to bring us from death to life. He will set us free.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
Is there something I find myself addicted to or obsessing over?
Where am I seeking freedom in my life?
How can I give these things over to God and turn back towards Him?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"God, I trust you completely."
"You have my whole life."
"You will set me free."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with the Lord bear fruit in you today?
Pray for greater freedom in the Spirit from whatever it is that is enslaving you. Ask the Lord to take those things away from you.
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Today's Prayer was prepared by Chris O'Hara, an evangelist in Canada.
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