Lent Devotional: Thursday, April 11

By Alice Ketchand

The wilderness times in my life, whether triggered by outside challenges or not, were marked by a deep sense of inner emptiness or lack, a sense of something of God being deeper and beyond me. This sense has motivated my spiritual seeking throughout my life.

Looking back, I realize that in times of emptiness and seeking I did what I could see to do, as best I understood it, and God was faithful to meet me there. One such time was my youth camp rededication and rebaptism at age 13. For me this was a significant public commitment. Only later did I understand it as updating my childhood faith. Joining SMBC with a two-year-old after a college and early adulthood departure from church found me cautiously starting over. My prayers began "God, are you there?" One day at home, I stopped in my hallway and asked myself, "Do I believe this Jesus stuff?" From deep inside the answer was "yes!" It was much more than mental assent and I knew it, deeply. Some years later I explored the Charismatic movement, looking for a closer connection to God. Skeptical but needy I prayed, "God I want to be closer to you, even if I have to speak in tongues" and received a special prayer language.

In my mid-forties I discovered Centering Prayer as taught by Fr. Thomas Keating. This prayer without words enlarges my spiritual understanding and connection with God - when I do it. Even with these and other examples of God's working in my life through prayer, I drift away and enter a period when I'm trying to manage my own life - and inevitably find myself in a wilderness. God does not force Himself on me, but when I turn and pray and seek, He is there.

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