Lenten Transformation: Part 4 Prayer & Conclusion


Prayer & Conclusion

Which leads us finally to prayer.  We know that without prayer, our ascetical efforts will be short-lived.  Prayer under-girds Lent from beginning to end.  We know this--that’s why there are so many services.  They provide us with the strength to make it through the Lenten journey, just as it’s prayer that will get us through life.  It is prayer that places all things before God, and prayer that transforms us and our world.  Looking at what we’ve discussed so far, it’s prayer that helps sustain and give reason to our fasting.  Also, if we are going to discern how to give alms properly, we need to pray.  Too often Christian agencies seeking to serve the poor lose any power they once had because they foolishly allowed prayer to become an accessory, rather than the foundation.  When that happens, burnout is not far behind, along with ineffectiveness, and loss of Christian witness.  CS Lewis once said that the Christians who did the most for this world were those who never lost sight of the next.  When Christians lose sight of the Kingdom their irrelevance is almost guaranteed.

Fasting, prayer, almsgiving.  These three things have the power, not only to transform us, but to change the society we live in.  Hopefully, I’ve given us a glimpse of how that can happen.  I learned a lot in India—and a lot on the back of a scooter, listening to my co-worker, an Indian pastor named Robin, speak about Christian witness in
India
.  He said, “Brother, as Christians, we have two eyes looking out at the world, but we have millions of eyes looking back at us.”  The world sees what Christians are doing.  And what is it that they see? Will they see us loving the world unto transformation, or will they see us as no different at all from everyone else?  Self-centered, self-absorbed, scurrying from one activity to the next while failing to do the one thing needful.  Will they hear us hiding behind high fallutin’ platitudes about loving the poor or will they see us actually serving the poor and looking for long-term solutions to limit poverty as it now exists?  These are serious times, and these are the hard questions we must face.  But the only thing that really proves the Christian faith, proves that “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and upon those the tombs bestowing life,” are churches that actually practice what they preach.  Thank God we have a place like this where we can work to demonstrate the reality of Christ’s Resurrection and His on-going Resurrection in our own lives.