Way of Love Sermon for Lent 2, Pray
The Wild Prayer of Lent
By Whitney Rice
If wilderness is the landscape of Lent, then prayer is the road that takes us there.
We live in a blind and busy city most of the time, a crowded confine of social norms, work and family obligations, and a general “business as usual” status quo. It can be difficult to sustain a dedicated prayer life in the chaotic swirl of trying to keep up with our calendars, care for our dear ones, and cope with the unsettled tension of our common life. The great gift of Lent is the call into the wilderness. It is an invitation to let the dust of daily life settle, and the graced silence of the desert begin to soothe and open our weary hearts.
But the wilderness cannot invade the city. It can’t come knock on our doors and drag us out into an encounter with the Holy. We have to say yes. And the way we say yes is by daily renewed faithfulness to prayer.
Abram knew this—we glimpse his prayer life in our lesson from Genesis today. He prayed to God out in the wilderness, lifting up his needs and desires and hopes with simple trust. And God made the covenant with him that would change not just his life but the destiny of humanity.
But there was an important middle step that is easy to skip over. Abram, falling asleep before his offering in the desert night, suddenly found his outer wilderness echoed by a cavernous and frightening inner wilderness. “As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him.”
This is the reality of Lenten prayer that we might shy away from. If we allow the themes of repentance and mortality, sin and death, sacrifice and redemption, a road to resurrection that leads inexorably through the Cross, start to actually penetrate our hearts, we may find that we are in an undiscovered and thoroughly uncomfortable country.