The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Spiritual disciplines

Pay attention to God's presence

In the liturgy for Ash Wednesday we will hear again the invitation: "As disciples of the Lord Jesus we are called to struggle against everything that leads us away from the love of God and neighbor. Repentance, fasting, prayer, and works of love — the discipline of Lent — help us to wage our spiritual warfare. I invite you, therefore, to commit yourselves to this struggle ...."

We Lutherans often are hesitant to talk about spiritual discipline, fearing it may sound like works righteousness. Yet might our resistance be as much personal as theological? Spiritual disciplines aren't undertaken so we might merit God's favor but so we might be attentive to God's presence and to hearing God's word, discerning God's will and engaging God's world. They begin in confession and absolution.

One pastor described repentance as coming to a dead end and saying, "I can't go on. We can't continue."

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