First Week of Lent
Prayer of the Week
(pray this prayer each day this week)
Sometimes I am just going through the motions. Although I love you, believe in your promises, and have faith in you… sometimes my heart just grows cold and discouraged. I go through the motions of worship, prayer, devotion, and feel very distant from you. I listen for you and hear nothing. In these times I know you are trying to reveal something to me… something important about the condition of my heart. You gently remind me to put first things first: I cannot be right with you if I am unrighteous towards others. I cannot find peace in your grace and mercy if I am unjust and unmerciful towards others. This week help me to put first things first. Check my heart O’ God and remind me to be righteous, generous, merciful in all of my ways. Then, and only then, bring deep personal fulfillment to my devotion to you.In Jesus name I pray. Amen
Read Isaiah 58:1-9
Week 1: Questions for Reflection
Isaiah is prophesying condemnation on the people for the hypocrisy of their spiritual discipline. On the one hand, they are fasting and praying and asking for God to help them while they are in exile. On the other hand, they themselves are treating the less fortunate among them with oppression, injustice, and neglect. God’s promise of hope and salvation can only come to those committed to righteousness and justice.
The people were wondering why God wasn’t responding to their prayers and fasting. Have you ever been frustrated with God’s silence or unanswered prayer? When?
Through Isaiah, God was trying to reveal the hypocrisy of the people and guide them to a more authentic relationship with God by holding them accountable to a just and merciful relationship with each other. Has God ever confronted you in such a way? What happened?
As we seek God’s grace and mercy, as we seek the protection of God’s justice, God reminds us to be graceful, merciful, and just to one another. How can you increase your awareness of justice and make acting justly part of your spiritual practices?
Action for the Week
Whenever you pray or practice any spiritual discipline begin by asking yourself if you’ve knowingly treated anyone with injustice or neglect. If so, let your FIRST spiritual action be to make apology, restitution, or an uplifting act of mercy… then make your personal devotions to God.