Forty Days of Repentance, Plus Listening

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

— Psalm 51:1-12

We’re already a week into Lent, but my personal observance is a little discombobulated this year from my trip to Korea, which threw off both my calendar and daily routine. I also missed the Ash Wednesday service at our church, which always gets me off on the right foot. So, I’m scrambling to catch up.

It’s appropriate, in a sense. Lent is about catching up in our relationship with God, reconnecting to the One who is the source of our strength, the compass for our journey, and the keeper of our days. Even in the process of self-examination and reevaluating our walk with God, we stumble and fall. The point is that after we fall, we get back on our feet, with His help, and resume the walk.

Last year, I focused on prayer during Lent, and I feel the need to do so again this year. I’ll be using Creighton University’s wonderful resource, Praying Lent, as a framework. This year, though, I want to concentrate on listening to God.

It’s easy to forget that prayer is a dialogue. We’re eager to present our praise and petitions, but often forget to spend time in silence before Him, attentive to His reply. That’s the part I really want to improve in my own life.

I’ve posted about my general philosophy regarding Lent over the past couple of years, here and here, and those ideas are reinforced each time I walk through this season. It’s certainly not the exclusive time for reflection and repentance in a Christian’s life, but it is a time when millions of Christians all over the world are focused on it, and I think there’s power in that shared commitment among the fellowship of believers.

If you’ve not given Lent much thought before, come on, join us! It’s not too late.

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