LENTEN DEVOTION for Monday, February 26


Lord, let the thoughts that weigh me down be lifted and borne away.


Amma Syncletica said, "Just as the most bitter medicine drives out poisonous creatures so prayer joined to fasting drives evil thoughts away."

African proverb: "You cannot prevent birds from flying over your head, but you can stop them from making nests in your hair."

But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts?" (Matt. 9:4) 


The desert teachers were well aware of the thoughts that burden us. They may be shameful, distracting, disturbing, guilt-ridden, tempting or ill-intending thoughts. Whatever they be, they can immobilize a person and create a barrier between God and neighbor.

The desert way to deal with such thoughts was prayer and fasting. Laura Swan writes, "Although the desert way was of sparse meals and fasting from most foods, Amma Synncletica understood more was involved. Fasting may take the form of giving up something other than food, such as excessive commitments, overachieving, unhealthy attitudes, and old resentments. The desert ascetics began by fasting from food, possessions, and social relationships. They then progressed to fasting  from interior attachments, such as anger, jealousy, envy, or possessiveness.... Fasting and prayer breaks the cycle of thoughts that drains one of life; prayer heals and nourishes the inner life."

If you are struggling against thoughts that drain you, consider the African proverb. You cannot prevent thoughts from entering the head, but you can choose what to do with them. Fast from one activity today and take 10 minutes of solitude. As you enter into the quiet, let all thoughts fly overhead like birds in the sky. Let your mind be quiet. The next time burdensome thoughts come, let them fly on by. 


God of my inmost self, you know my thoughts and intentions. Let me be free to love you and my neighbor with all my mind and heart. Amen. 

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