Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
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.
Have you ever done something you know is wrong, but you do it anyway to save face? That’s kind of what Herod did in the Gospel today. At his birthday celebration, he grants Herodias’s daughter whatever she wants. Even though he didn’t want to kill John the Baptist, Herod has him beheaded because of the promise he made in front of all the people at his party.
We hear about peer pressure all the time and how not to fall into it. Sometimes peer pressure isn’t all that bad, like signing up for a retreat or mission trip just because all of your friends are going. That kind of peer pressure (similar to how at first Herod just imprisoned John) can lead to good things even though the initial intention wasn’t so pure.
But peer pressure doesn’t always lead to the best outcomes. A lot of times it’s not as cut and dry as people make it seem, but it happens most often in very subtle ways. For example: hanging out with your friends and talking about life, then someone brings up someone you all don’t like. Peer pressure is joining in on the gossip and tearing down this person, even though you know you shouldn’t. But you don’t want to be the outcast for not joining in, and besides, it’s harmless, right?
Sin is a slippery slope like that, and when you add the pressure of looking good in front of your friends or family it gets even steeper. The hard part is recognizing this when it’s happening. Peer pressure can also take the form of you not doing what you know is best in order to not look like a “Jesus freak.”
A couple of weeks ago this happened to me. I needed to go to confession but was back at home visiting my family and didn’t want to impede on the time I had with them while also not wanting them to think of me as a sinner (although we all are . . . we’re human). I mentioned something to my mom about wanting to go to confession and she not only found a church that had confession during the week but also went with me.
Sometimes we are afraid to speak up about certain things because of what other people will say. I have done this many times in my life, but when I do speak up or don’t participate in conversations or activities I know are wrong, people have actually commended me instead or bringing me down. It’s not always easy to stand up when everyone else is sitting (metaphorically), but if you know something is right, pray for the courage to be able to stand.
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.
How have you let people pressure you into something, good or bad?
How does God use people around you to lead you closer to him, even if you don't always notice at the time?
In what areas of your life are you being asked right now to stand up for what is right and you need courage to do that? Take this time to ask him for that courage and then go do it.
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.
"I choose you."
"Your will is good."
"I ask for your grace."
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?
Today, do something that is uncomfortable but right. Maybe you reach out to someone that it's not popular to talk to. Maybe you have a conversation you've been needing to have but putting off because you're scared of what the other person might say. Whatever it is, take courage today, invite the Lord to be your strength, and stand up in faith and in boldness.
Today's prayer was prepared by Kayla Essner, a high school Math teacher in Denver, CO.
If you have anything you'd like our team to pray for, please go to the page of our website called "Prayers" and let us know how we can pray for you today.