We didn’t give things up for Lent when I was a kid; I don't remember being taught that in church. Giving up pizza or candy or soda for forty days would have been way too hard, anyway. I never really got this practice.
Five years ago during Lent my Bible study group talked about giving something up versus adding something good to our “daily diet” that would bring us closer to God. I found the idea of adding something good much more pleasing, with the understanding that if it was good for forty days, it should be good forever. I decided that I would add something to my life that pleased the Lord. So I started reading a daily devotional, and spending some early morning time with God.
Because I learn best by writing, I added a one-page reflection of what I read each day, concluding with a short prayer about what the devotional stirred in me, what I need God to help me with, and sometimes just a praise of who God is and what he’s done in this world. There is always gratitude, always an Amen at the end.
Today I have several notebooks filled.
For the most part, these journal entries are where the ideas for writing this blog come from. If a topic touches me deeply, I scrawl “blogpost” at the top of the page, and if I use it for a post, I write the date beside it, indicating that I used this idea already.
The trouble with blogging is the chance that you might write the same blog post twice, and that is embarrassing. I’m not even sure if this system works; I don’t often go back and re-read my own blog posts. I’m not that narcissistic.
I definitely repeat prayers. After all, this happens in the early, early morning; it’s the first thing I do, sometimes before coffee. I don’t think that God minds if my prayers repeat themselves.
One theme is thanking God for what he’s done for me:
Dear God, thank you so much for my life and the clarity you have given me. I pray that you can stay in my heart always and that I can continue to learn from you. Thank, you, Amen.
Dear Lord, thank you for teaching me what I always need to hear. I pray for your guidance all of my days. Thank you, Amen.
Dear Lord, thank you for your most wonderful plan. I pray that I can see my part in it, can be mindful of your hand in my life, and keep your glory first in my mind. Thank you, Amen.
Another is asking for help:
Dear Lord, help me to be disciplined in my life more. Thank you for all the things you have taught me. Thank you, Amen.
Dear Lord, thank you for being my provider, my teacher, my peace and my contentment. I pray for your provision in this situation that worries me; I pray for peace in my decisions. Thank you, Amen.
Dear Lord, please help me to be a cheerful giver this Christmas, and not hold back or be stressed about giving. Thank you, Amen.
Some prayers focus on forgiveness:
Dear Lord, I ask for forgiveness for my sins today. Help me to life with integrity and honesty, to be open and transparent with my life. Thank you, Amen.
Dear God, thank you for being my strong tower and place of refuge, sometimes from my own wrongdoing. Please forgive me for my wrongs, my hurtful words, my careless decisions. Help me to do better. Thank you, Amen.
Dear God, thank you for your promises that keep me going in your direction. Please forgive me for my sins; they are many. Remove this negativity from me; shore my soul so it no longer caves in. Thank you, Amen.
And others are simple:
Dear God, please help me to be patient today. Thank you, Amen.
Thank you, Lord, for your love. I give it all back to you. Thank you, Amen.
Thank you, Lord, for giving me your son. Amen.
I am thankful for God’s provision of time and solitude for me to continue this practice every day. The upsides are many. The first one is that I’ve always got Lent covered. I’m only half-joking.
The best one is that whatever the prayers are, I know that God is listening.