Holy Week is a wonderful opportunity to get out of the normal routine and attend all of the liturgies that take place only once a year (Chrism Mass, Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Stations of the Cross, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil). It’s is a time to intimately explore the spirit of Lent so as to truly celebrate Easter.
To truly experience such spiritual growth, prayer is essential — but often difficult as well. An article in Guideposts reminded me that too often we begin by asking God to do something. While this is ok, prayer is supposed to be a two-way street. We often ask, but often we forget to listen. Therefore, this week I encourage you to pray your questions and expect answers. What do I mean? Many of the prayers in the Bible—though they are often overlooked as prayers—are questions. Cain asked “Am I my brother’s keeper?”(Gen 4:9) and the martyrs’ asked “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”(Rev 6:10). Praying your questions is clearly a practice with biblical precedent.
So let’s carve out time every day this week to ask questions. Maybe the best question to ask before we pray anything else is: “What do You want me to pray?”
And probably the most common question people do pray is “Why?” or more accurately, “Why me?” But we never seem to receive an answer. Like a loving parent hoping for a child to see the need for change and improvement, sometimes God must be waiting for us to ask: “Why do I do that?” instead. It is a perfect place to get self-understanding and instigate true growth.
Both David and Jesus prayed one of the most famous “question prayers”: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1, Mt 27:46). There is obviously nothing wrong with this, but an interesting twist happens when we pray/ask, “My God, my God, why have you NOT forsaken me?”
The next question is one I have learned to ask the Holy Spirit many times a day. After reflecting on the recent past, asking “What are You trying to tell me or teach me?” can give productive direction to our future. The answer, no matter how small, is significant.
We often try to get God enlisted in “our” agendas. Putting our ego aside is easier when we ask God to show us areas and people in which He is acting. Therefore pray “Where are You at work?” so you can cooperate in those efforts.
Many distractions stop us from hearing God. Before you put your feet on the floor each morning, try not to launch into each day’s challenges and opportunities under your own power. Place your hand in God’s hand and walk with him by praying/asking “What are we going to do together today?”
Have a very Holy Week!
P.S. Last weekend more than a dozen folks showed up for our first “Clean-Up Day” at the Cathedral and worked for several hours. Much was accomplished! THANK YOU to all who were able to help! This is the first of many and we will keep you informed.