“The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days…” (Mark 1:12)
Right after Jesus receives the gift of Baptism, where the sky breaks open and the Spirit descends upon Him and the heavenly Father states that Jesus is His beloved son, with whom He is well pleased, Jesus could have gone anywhere. But the Gospel this Sunday says that the Spirit moves Jesus to go to the desert. Not for a day, or a week, but for forty days!
The desert. What a place to be. But truly it is a beautiful place to be. While most of us think a desert to be a place of dryness and lifelessness, the Church calls all of us to enter the desert during the season of Lent. Why? Precisely because like Jesus—who was alone in the desert, stripped of all things but God—we too are called to enter the desert stripped of all things but God. God alone. That is what it is all about. Each and every one of us are called to enter the rhythm of surrendering everything and receiving what God wants to offer. As we enter the desert, what are you called to abandon and let go of so that you can be free to receive all that Christ wants to offer you? I want to share a couple of my favorite prayers that help us on this journey of surrendering and receiving.
The Prayer of Abandonment by Bl. Charles de Foucauld is a beautiful prayer he wrote that invites all of us to put everything in God’s hands, to surrender everything without reserve. Take a moment and pray this prayer this week.
Father, I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures -
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you
with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself
into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.
Once we let go and surrender all to God, we can make the room to receive all that God wants to give us. That is why another prayer I want to invite you to pray readily is the Suscipe Prayer, which in Latin literally means receive. This prayer written by St. Ignatius teaches us how to receive. That once we offer all to God, we have room to receive his love and grace, which is enough for us. Here’s the prayer for you:
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.
Allow these two powerful prayers to help you enter the desert, to enter into the way of abandoning all the enticements and distractions of life, so that we can be free to truly receive what the Lord wants to give us. Ask God for the grace to make this Lent like no other. Pray these prayers authentically each day and it will help you to enter into the life of surrender so that you can receive all that our good God wants to offer! Happy Lent!
May God’s peace and joy be with you,