Fasting and meditation are integral parts of the lenten activities. Fasting
does have a physical manifestation. Most adults who fast for the whole 50
day period should notice a decrease in their waist lines and a reduction in
weight by Easter.
To help in the meditation, special prayers are set
during lent. These prayers are in addition to the usual morning and evening
prayers already in use on the ordinary days.
When I started to use this Lenten prayer some years ago I was baffled by the
often repetitious and somewhat jumbled nature of these lengthy prayers. It
took me some time to get to grips with these prayers. I now understand and
appreciate the deep meaning I find in these prayers and so am recording my
thoughts, in the hope that it may benefit some younger members who may have
had similar difficulties.
I shall confine my remarks to the special Lenten Prayers here.
When one unscrambles the text of the prayers as it appear in the Prayer
Book, certain profound ideas emerge.
1. Entreaties to God.
The great bulk of the prayer is a string of entreaties to God Almighty.
'Even the thieves and murders and prostitutes, who have gained pardon from
Thee; so allow me also to repent my sins and seek Thy pardon. O my God, as
there is not a living thing that is blameless, look upon me with mercy and
forgive my sins.
It was you who gave me the gift of free will. On the Judgement Day, be kind
to me a sinner and look upon me with mercy. In the vast ocean of Your Mercy,
my offences would be just a drop of mud.'
2. The benefits of intense fasting and
meditation during the Great Lent.
'The great Satan is at work all the time; making quarrels among groups,
nations and rulers. Even Yours chosen ones are not out of his sight.'
Examples of the results of Fasting and Prayers:
'Daniel by his fasting and prayers won over the lions and survived unscathed
the fiery furnace. Likewise Elijah was taken up to heaven by the chariot.
Jesus was instrumental in stopping the sun and the moon, in their track.'
As Prophet Moses and Elijah fasted, Our Lord also fasted. Likewise we also
fast and let our prayers come to Thee.
3. The preparation for the prayer and
mediation during this very special time.
Let our fasting and prayers are without any evil thoughts. Help us to
make strong bonds with others and to receive grace and mercy from you.
It is God's commandment that we love each other.
4. How not to enter into prayer and
meditation; why such wrong efforts would only fail.
God is Love. Prayer and fasting is good, but if it is not observed with
genuine love to others, it will be futile, its 'wings will be clipped' and
it would be devoid of godliness.
There are those who observe Lent and at the same time harbor hatred and
spite towards others. There are also some who abstain from intoxicating
drinks, while secretly plan to kill their brother. Before we come for ours
prayers, we should shed all falsehood and insincerity in our actions.
5. The great reward that await sincere
fasting and meditation.
He who seeks God with a contrite heart in prayer and fasting are truly
blessed; God abides in him.
Those who observe Our Lord's commandment to feed the hungry, give a drink of
water to the thirsty, cloth the naked and visit the prisoners will be the
chosen people on the Judgement Day.
- My Experience
When I started living away from my family for my higher studies, daily
prayers that was engrained in me as a deep rooted habit by then, remained
with me, and provided me with much needed refuge and strength.
Lenten Prayer of St Ephrem the Syrian
Why does this short and simple prayer occupy such an
important position in the entire lenten worship? Because it enumerates
all the "negative" and "positive" elements of repentance and constitutes a "check list" for our individual lenten
effort. This effort is aimed first at our liberation from some
fundamental spiritual diseases which shape our life and make it
virtually impossible for us even to start turning ourselves to God.
A Different Approach to Fasting
Lenten fasts have a tendency to be oriented toward things like giving
up food or television. But there are many other creative ways we can
welcome Jesus' healing touch this Lent.
Should We Observe the Lent and Fasting?