This past Spring was the first time that I made a Lenten resolution. I grew up thinking Lent was only for Catholics or for people seeking motivation to lose a few pounds by giving up soda or chocolate or fast food. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I really began to absorb the significance of the season, the fact that it’s a chance for all followers of Christ to reflect more deeply on His sacrifice. And so in February I started searching for some sort of appropriate 40-day fast. What I settled upon, after wading through several not-quite-meaningful-enough ideas, was actually additive rather than subtractive: I committed to 40 days of prayer journaling, spending 10 or 15 minutes a day putting pen to paper in a series of “letters” to God.  My prayer life often takes a nose dive when I get busy or tired or swept up in the daily grind – I caught myself forgetting to turn to God when things were going too well (no thanks, God, I got this!), and then resisting Him when things felt utterly crappy (c’mon, God, do you even hear me?). Days (weeks, even?) would go by without a peep from me to Him.  This disciplined Lenton practice of giving Him my full attention, putting written words to my heart’s praises/longings/fears/questions proved to be the kick in the pants I needed to get us back on track.  One week into my resolution, I was already seeing His work more clearly in my life and in the lives of my friends and family.  I was turning to Him first, rather than last, when I needed comfort or encouragement.  And then Easter rolled around and Lent was over… But surely, surely, I would keep up this practice that had brought such richness to my life – I was hitting some serious high spots on that spiritual roller-coaster I’ve ridden for the last 20 years.  This had the makings of a permanent resolution.

At least, that’s what I told myself as I watched my neglected Moleskine collect dust on my bedside table – I would pick it up again tomorrow. Tomorrow, I would make the effort.  After five months of tomorrow’s, I recently started cracking open that little black journal and rediscovering the goodness of writing to God.  Somehow my prayers feel more real when I see them on paper, as opposed to that 30-second jumble of requests that drifts through my head as I’m falling asleep each night.  I think God values the intentionality of written words.  And I like having a record of what’s been on my heart.  The names of our friends and family are in there, as we’ve walked alongside them through ups and downs.  There are a handful of gushy praises, and there are countless pages of “please, please, please”.  There are a few tear-smudged entries.  There are bits of songs or Bible verses that have struck me at my core.  I look back and I see that some of these prayers have so clearly been answered with a resounding “yes”.  Others have drawn forth a “no”, or “wait”, or “how about we do it My way instead?”.  And then there are those prayers that seem to have been met with silence.  These are the ones where hurt and doubt and anxiety creep in.  But after each spiral of feeling lost and forlorn, I circle back to the belief that I follow a God that cares enough to read every last word, and that is wise enough to answer according to his perfect timing.  And so I will keep on writing.

One Comment

  1. Michelle says:

    Oh man. I needed this. Thanks for the reminder!