In the morning, long before dawn, He got up and left the house and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. (MARK 1:35)
The holiest of seasons is upon us once again.
There are many things you can do to make this 40-day Lenten journey a meaningful and purposeful one. You can choose to give up eating junk food or watching television or spending too much time on Facebook. You can refrain from going out at night.
My suggestion? Go back to basics.
Every single day for the next 40 days. Whether you feel like it or not. No matter how busy you are. Or how crazy your schedule is.
Jesus says, “When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.” (Matthew 6:6) Take note, He says when you pray, not if you pray. Jesus expects us to deliberately set aside time out of the 24 hours that we have to commune with our Father and Creator. Alone.
First thing in the morning. If you have your schedule on reverse, then pray at whatever time your “morning” is. Commune with God before formally starting your day.
Jesus had the habit of rising before the sun did to spend time with His Father. He did this not only when it was the Sabbath. He did this even if He had a hectic day ahead of him or a stressful one the day before. Pope John Paul II emulated this habit. So did Mother Teresa and all the saints we now venerate.
What would make you get up before dawn? A trip to the beach? An important breakfast meeting with clients? A million bucks? The Lenten season is about making sacrifices. What better sacrifice is there than to forego the last 15 to 30 minutes of your sleeping time to meet with God?
For a specific minimum amount of time. Every single day. As soon as you are fully awake. Keep to that commitment no matter what. Extend it anytime you want and can. But never reduce it just because you are not in the mood. It will take a great deal of self-discipline, but remain in God’s presence even if you don’t know what to say or can’t feel anything or get easily distracted. You can be sure that God is there in your sacred space throughout your sacred time whether you can sense His presence or not. So do it. Let love compel you to just do it.
Experts say that if an act is performed every day for 21 days straight, that particular act – whether good or bad – will become a habit. If that is true, then 40 days is more than enough time to form this most essential habit every professed Christian should have.
Pray the day after that.
And see the difference it will make in your spiritual life by the end of this Lenten Season.