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).
Suffering for the sake of suffering is meaningless.
We’re exactly one week into Lent. Maybe it’s been hard for you, and you’ve been painfully aware of every second of Lent so far. Or maybe you’ve started to fall into the rhythm of it, getting used to your Lenten fast. Regardless of how you feel, there’s one question that needs to be answered: why?
Why are you adding more prayer time, fasting from something you love, or going out of your way to add something extra? Why are you bringing “inconvenience” into your life for 40 days?
Suffering for the sake of suffering is meaningless, but what does this mean?
Suffering for the sake of suffering, without any deeper meaning, results in nothing. It causes more pain, it’s frustrating, and relies on our own, often insufficient, strength. This type of sacrifice is what David means by the phrase “a burnt offering”. A sacrifice with no further meaning behind it, with no intention, done for the sake of just doing it, is meaningless. Instead, David recognizes what God is really asking for: a heart turned toward Him, honest about its current state. A heart doing its best to love God more, even if imperfectly. This is the sacrifice God truly desires, because you are the one God truly desires.
God isn’t asking us to suffer for the sake of suffering: He’s asking us to put aside Earthly things to come closer to Him, closer to Love itself.
This Lent, God is asking you to let Him love you. He wants you to experience His love more fully, to bring your heart closer to His heart. As David recognizes, God isn’t asking for meaningless offerings. He’s asking for our hearts. Whether your heart is filled with joy, peace, rest, sadness, contentment, etc., offer that up to God this Lent and invite Him into it.
There’s something greater here: something greater than burnt offerings, greater than Jonah, greater than Solomon. That something is God. Let Him be the reason behind your Lenten penance, putting aside Earthly things to grow closer to Love itself. Through it all, be aware of the state of your heart: whether you offer sacrifices of sorrow or sacrifices of praise, invite God into your heart.
Regardless of your feelings about Lent so far, use them as an opportunity to deepen your continuous conversation with Christ. Talk to Him. Let Him in. Let Him love you. And let this Love drive your Lenten penance, relying on Him as we follow Him into the desert this Lent.
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.
What have I chosen to fast from this Lent?
Why have I chosen to fast from that particular thing?
How am I inviting God into my heart this Lent?
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.
"You desire my heart."
"Create in me a clean heart."
"Have mercy, O Lord."
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?
Spending some time praying and asking God how your Lenten fasting is meant to lead you closer to Him.
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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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