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).
There’s a lot happening in the first reading, so let’s break it down a bit.
The people of this time were used to having gods represented by a physical “thing”, and that’s ultimately what led to making the golden calf while Moses was gone; they were looking for a way to represent God as a thing they could see and touch, and therefore better understand.
While they never meant to turn away from God, that ended up happening due to lack of proper guidance. Instead of saying “Look at this cow, which represents the awesome God that saved us!”, the Israelites said “Look at this cow, which is the awesome god that saved us!”. And that caused problems. Because God had already warned the Israelites against doing this exact thing, that caused many problems. The Israelites never meant to turn away from God, but because they got so carried away by pagan customs/ways of doing things, that’s what ended up happening. This idolatry is why God became so upset; His people were disobeying and replacing Him, basically worshiping whatever was nearest to them. And naturally we still struggle with this today.
Yet we also see the profound effect of prayer in Moses' conversation with God. In fact, some scholars argue that God never really intended to punish the Israelites. But by using this approach, by putting Moses in the position to protect His people by pleading on their behalf, God was showing Moses that his prayers have direct and very real consequences. And that’s huge.
Take this in for a second. God could certainly do everything on His own, but He loves us so much that He wants us to get directly involved. You genuinely and tangibly have a way to have a profound effect on the universe as a whole and on the individual lives around you. All you need to do is ask. God showed Moses the consequences of praying, and how our prayer, even as imperfect little humans, can be the means to let the will of God happen. Everything that happens needs to have a “cause” or “beginning”, and God’s lets our prayers be some of those causes. As in, some things physically rely on our prayers to happen.
Overall, there are two big themes here. The first is that the Israelites took something good, something intended to bring glory to God, and fell into idolatry by becoming too focused on it. Is there anything in your life that you hold too highly, to the point of caring about it too much? How is Lent helping you address that?
The second is that our prayers truly have an effect; that a perfect God loves us so intensely and personally that He allows us to literally be a pathway, a means for His Will to be done. Without us, it wouldn’t happen the same way. So yes, your prayers matter. A lot. Not only is God listening to what you have to say, but He’s letting your prayers have a lasting impact on the world around you. Are you praying like your prayers actually matter? Do you pray as if God is genuinely listening to you?
So, read the first reading again. Which aspect of the reading seems to be affecting you most? Wherever you are, use Moses and the Israelites as an example of how (or, in the Israelites case, how not) to move forward from here.
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 anything in your life that you hold too highly, to the point of caring about it too much? How is Lent helping you address that?
Are you praying like your prayers actually matter? Do you pray as if God is genuinely listening to you? If not, how can you change that?
How can you be like Moses and intercede on behalf of the people in your life? How can you also, gently and with love, help those people see the wrong in their ways?
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.
"Here I am Lord."
"Forgive me Lord."
"Teach me how to pray."
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?
Find a new way to pray for others today. Let yourself take the role of an intercessor and ask people how you can pray for them today, then actually do it.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Tatiana Schaffer, a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studying Engineering and Psychology.
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