Lent at St Thomas’ – A Time to Seek God

“Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened to you.” Jesus, Luke 11.9.

Of course, asking, seeking and knocking are things we have to do. If we want to know more of God in our lives, that won’t happen by chance. Lent is a time for us to pursue God actively – letting go of some of the things that normally get in the way, and prioritizing others that allow us to draw close to Him. Here are some practical ideas for us to consider over the coming few weeks.

Things to do more of during Lent (you don’t have to do all of them!):

1 – Read the Bible – Specifically, read through the Gospels (or listen to them). This would take 10-15 minutes per day, and a schedule is included below. Ideally, find one or two others who are doing this, so you can share your thoughts and discuss what you’ve been reading.
2 – Meditate on the Bible – Choose one or two short passages, maybe those you already know well (Psalm 23 or the Lord’s Prayer). Ideally, memorize them and then chew them over in your mind daily.
3 – Examine yourself – Set aside a little bit of time each week (you’ll need to plan it in advance) to ask God about your life. Are there any big (or small) changes he wants you to make?
4 – Pray through the parish – Use a map (or, if you’re keen, walk the streets) to pray for different places around St Thomas’.
5 – Pray for three people – Commit to praying daily for three people you know who you discern are in special need of your prayers at the moment. See what happens!
6 – Pray with others – Come to some simple prayer times in church (times TBA)
7 – Get in touch – Write to, phone, or visit someone you know to be lonely or in a special time of need.

Things to do less of during Lent

Fasting has largely been lost as a discipline in the Western Church, and yet it is perhaps the discipline we most need. Our culture is one dominated by comfort and entertainment: fasting can help break the power of both over our lives, giving us the time and space to seek God. Without fasting, we lose the ability to tell ourselves ‘no’ to things we desire. Fasting trains us to become healthier Christians, and to “seek first God’s kingdom”.

Fasting food – this is the obvious way in which we can teach ourselves that we do not need to give in to everything our bodies want. Whether it’s every day or once a week, try fasting (it could be giving up one meal, a whole day’s food, or something you tend to crave – chocolate, sugar, alcohol, for example). In those times when you’d be cooking or eating, instead be praying and seeking. When you feel pangs of hunger, let them remind you of your much deeper desire for God.
Fasting distraction – whether it’s the constant availability of entertainment through TV, tablets, phones etc, or the distraction of continual communication through email and social media, fasting can again help. Maybe you could eliminate some of these things entirely during Lent, or if not you could put some strict limits on your usage. Instead, plan time to reflect and pray, and to fill your mind with things which will deepen your relationship with God.

The Bible reading plan is below. May we all find it to be true that “you will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29.13)

 

Wed 6th Matthew 1-Matthew 3
Thu 7th Matthew 4-Matthew 6
Fri 8th Matthew 7-Matthew 9
Sat 9th Matthew 10-Matthew 12
Sun 10th Take a Break
Mon 11th Matthew 13-Matthew 14
Tue 12th Matthew 15-Matthew 16
Wed 13th Matthew 17-Matthew 18
Thu 14th Matthew 19-Matthew 20
Fri 15th Matthew 21-Matthew 22
Sat 16th Matthew 23-Matthew 24
Sun 17th Take a Break
Mon 18th Matthew 25-Matthew 26
Tue 19th Matthew 27-Matthew 28
Wed 20th Mark 1-Mark 3
Thu 21st Mark 4-Mark 6
Fri 22nd Mark 7-Mark 9
Sat 23rd Mark 10-Mark 12
Sun 24th Take a Break
Mon 25th Mark 13-Mark 14
Tue 25th Mark 15-Mark 16
Wed 26th John 1-John 2
Thu 27th John 3-John 4
Fri 28th John 5-John 6
Sat 30th John 7-John 8
Sun 31st Take a Break
Mon 1st John 9-John 10
Tue 2nd John 11-John 12
Wed 3rd John 13-John 14
Thu 4th John 15-John 16
Fri 5th John 17-John 18
Sat 6th John 19-John 20
Sun 7th Take a Break
Mon 8th John 21
Tue 9th Luke 1-Luke 3
Wed 10th Luke 4-Luke 6
Thu 11th Luke 7-Luke 9
Fri 12th Luke 10-Luke 12
Sat 13th Luke 13-Luke 14
Sun 14th Take a Break
Mon 15th Luke 15-Luke 16
Tue 16th Luke 17-Luke 18
Wed 17th Luke 19-Luke 20
Maundy Thurs Luke 21-Luke 22
Good Fri Luke 23
Sat 20th Isaiah 53
Easter Day Luke 24