Just a few miles off the highway, tucked away in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, in the middle of Atlanta, the Jesuits run a retreat center. There, in the chapel with the wall of windows that overlooks the Georgian wilderness, I went to meet with God.
It was a weekday afternoon in the middle of July 2015, and I was on a field trip with one of my seminary classes. We were a ragtag bunch of ten students led by a mystic, Methodist minister.
The center was largely empty, since most of the Jesuits were, ironically, away on a retreat of their own. The remaining priest, a somewhat gruff gentleman, led us into the chapel to talk before releasing us to explore the grounds – and God – on our own.
We peppered him with questions about the practical points of prayer. When and where should we pray? Why and how should we pray? He answered begrudgingly: Set aside a specific time every day. Create a space apart, even if it’s just a corner in your closet. Perhaps try following the five steps of the Daily Examen.
He couched each answer with a caveat. Talking about, thinking about, reading about prayer misses the point of prayer. Eventually, you just have to pray. You have to just do it.
It is in that spirit that, starting today, I will be hosting a daily prayer service on Facebook Live. You can join the service each day during Lent, from March 1 to April 12, at 7:00pm Eastern. For 10-15 minutes, we’ll read some scripture, spend some time in silence, pray for some special intentions, and experiment with some different prayer techniques. All you have to do to join is visit the Faith, Hope, Love, and Wine Facebook Page. Each day’s video will also be recorded and uploaded to the Facebook Page, so, if you can’t join me at 7, you can pray along on your schedule.
I, like that Jesuit priest, know just how difficult it can be to set aside time for prayer. I also know, however, that through prayer, the Lord can change us and heal us for our own good.
So, I invite you, regardless of where you are on your spiritual journey, to join me in prayer this Lent. While we cannot all travel to a retreat center on the Chattahoochee, we can still come together and meet with God.