40-Day Challenge Daily Devotional

Wednesday, March 1, 2017 | Our 40 Day Journey Begins

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first official day in the season of Lent. This evening we will gather in our sanctuary for our Ash Wednesday service at 6:30pm which will conclude with what is known as the “imposition of Ashes.” All those in attendance will be invited forward where one of our leaders will make the sign of the cross on either your forehead or the back of your hand speaking to you these words: “Be forgiven of your sins.”

The purpose behind the Ashes is to remind us of our sin and our frailty. The ashes remind us that, “

dust you are and to dust you will return.

” Our lives are temporary. Death and loss is a part of our human condition. Ashes are also a sign of our repentance, the recognition that all of our lives are marred by sin and our desire is to turn from our sin and live in a better way.
With the beginning of Lent, today also officially begins our 40 Day Challenge, asking the question, “How can we more clearly live into this vision where Christ becomes greater in our lives and we become less?” For the next 40 days, excluding Sundays, you will receive a specific challenge through this devotional which is meant to offer you a specific way you can practice living in the way modeled by John’s word in John 3:30, “

He must become greater, I must become less.”

Today I want to invite you to read from Luke’s Gospel as you prepare for today’s challenge.

Scripture – Luke 11:1–10 |One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” 2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread. 4 Forgive us our sins for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’”

5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.

9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Reflection |

I am encouraged by the fact that the disciples of Jesus needed instructions on how to pray. Have you ever found yourself wanting someone to give you some more detailed instructions on how to engage in this practice? I have. Prayer is a mysterious discipline. In some ways I think it was meant to be a struggle. In my own practice of prayer I have found that in the midst of that struggle what God is enabling me to do is to wrestle with what is really going on in my own heart and life. In prayer I often feel God challenging me to name my fears, to acknowledge my weakness, and to turn all of those things that I want to control over to Him. I appreciate the instruction Jesus offers here because I often need help in my prayer life. If you do as well, you are in good company.

And so today, the challenge is simply to pray the Lord’s Prayer, slowly throughout the day. Pay attention to the words. Try to soak in their meaning. As we prepare to begin this journey through Lent by acknowledging our sin and the temporary nature of our lives, let us join together in praying the prayer Jesus taught us to pray.

Challenge for Today |

Pray the Lord’s prayer slowly; morning noon and night.

Prayer |

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, give us this day our daily bread, and forgives us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever. AMEN.