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As well as an opportunity to re-evaluate priorities, re-set our goals and pathways, and look at what we might fruitfully take up and usefully give up, the period of Lent in the Christian tradition is one of deepening our wrestling with the heart and with God (or prayer, as it is usually known).
What has been called 'The Franciscan Prayer of Discomfort' (after St Francis of Assisi), reproduced below, is one which I am keeping close at hand during these difficult and challenging times.
It also illustrates that true faith -- a trust in the truth of good to which we aspire, but which we can only experience as gift -- is not about cheap consolation or the avoidance of reality, but rather involves gradually developing the character to embrace darkness by standing in the Light.
That is precisely what learning to pray, by attending to the guidance of those who practice it well, is all about.
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.
And the Blessing of God, who Creates, Redeems and Sanctifies, be upon you and all you love and pray for this day, and forever more. Amen.
© Simon Barrow is co-director of Ekklesia, but still a novice in the school of prayer after nearly 55 years.Tweet