Death to Idols
Matthew Frizzell of Lamoni, IA, USA
The LORD is exalted, he dwells on high;
he filled Zion with justice and righteousness;
he will be the stability of your times,
abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge;
the fear of the LORD is Zion’s treasure. -Isaiah 33:5-6
Lent is a time of emptying. Nearly six weeks long, the emptiness of Lent holds a mystery. Lent lays bare the open secrets of this mystery.
The emptiness of Lent is not to punish us for our sins. It is not to expose our worthlessness or celebrate human depravity. On the contrary, God made all things good (Genesis 1:31). Lent is a reminder of our source of life and essential spirituality. Something about our humanity is both creaturely and divine. Humans are both free and dependent. The mystery of God’s image is woven into our humanness.
Lent draws us into this mystery with practices and meditations that aim at emptiness. Some fast from food or television. Others fast from complaining, social media, or the news. Each person is invited to pray and reflect in empty stillness. The aim is to empty and open ourselves to God’s presence for renewal.
Like being dragged into a paradox, Lent’s emptiness can fill us and make us whole. Fasting, our bodies feel the discomfort of emptiness. Removing distractions, we face the emptiness of our minds and mental lives. As emptiness settles in and matures, it reaches our emotions. The experience of emptiness is physical, mental, and emotional. It differs from our ordinary aims and aspirations for fulfillment. Lent’s emptiness puts our regular lives, agendas, longings, and wants in spiritual perspective.
The paradox of feeling Lent’s emptiness in its fullness unfolds our mystery. We are more than hunger. We are more than daily anxiety. We are more than our aspirations and wants. Neither food nor television, news nor complaining, social media nor daily activity, sustains us or makes us whole. Stripped down, laid bare, simplified and emptied out, we can finally receive God’s gift to us. We are dependent on God and woven with God’s image. Emptiness is the path that takes us there.
I surrender into your love.
Set a timer for 20 minutes. (If that feels like too much at first, choose a time that will be comfortable for you as a starting place, committing to expand that time in future prayer.) Allow the rhythm of your breath to draw you deeper and deeper into silence. As you breathe, claim one sacred word (Christ, peace, grace, trust, etc.) emerging in you as an anchor to return you to the intention of your prayer when your thoughts begin to wander. Gently release the thoughts and images that come, making space for presence to the One who is with you here and now. Release, return, “be vulnerable to divine grace” (Doctrine and Covenants 163:10b).
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.