February 17th, 2013: The First Sunday of Lent

February 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” 

During the season of Lent, Sundays operate a bit differently than the other days of the week. Some traditions allow for breaks from fasts on Sundays, and we can see the theme of joyful expectation added to the other traditional themes of the season. Other traditions carry their fasts over Sundays as well. If you’ve chosen to fast, I want to encourage you to prayerfully consider whether a “break” on Sundays is constructive for what God has laid on your heart.

On Sundays, this blog will take a “break” from the normal pattern of Scripture and reflection. This year, our Sunday focus will be the Jesus Prayer. The Orthodox Church has favored this prayer across the centuries both for its ease of use and the amount of truth it contains. It remains an appropriate prayer for Lent, and one that we would do well to use. I’d encourage you to consciously pray this prayer on Sundays, as often as you feel the need; and, perhaps, use it when the last thing you want to do is pray! In this space each week, we’ll discuss a different truth that the prayer teaches us.

This week, let’s think about the nature of Christ and the nature of humanity as this prayer shows it. This prayer firmly places the one praying in the category of “sinner,” one who has fallen short of God’s glory and needs forgiveness and help. This prayer places Jesus as the Son of God, one who is merciful and capable of forgiving and redeeming those who call on him. As we saw this past week, worry can indicate a lack of belief in God’s power to act or the fact that he cares for us. This prayer helps keep us grounded in that it reminds us that God is merciful and caring and that he does have the ability to work in our lives.

So, don’t think of this prayer as a prayer of repentance for when you feel you’ve sinned. Rather, think of this prayer as useful for all times. It helps keep us grounded in truth; it reminds us of God’s nature and our nature, and the fact that it is in God’s nature to change ours. By praying this prayer, we open our hearts so that he may work.

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” 

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