This Prayer Practice is provided by Pastor Patrick L. Sipes of First Evangelical Lutheran Church in North Platte, Nebraska. It will be used during Lenten midweek services in 2022.
This year on Wednesday’s during Lent we are using an excellent resource provided by Deacon Timothy Siburg, Director for Mission, Innovation and Stewardship for the Nebraska Synod. The heart of this liturgy is an invitation to ask big questions of ourselves and God. You can find the liturgy here: https://nebraskasynod.org/for-congregations/worship/
The big questions in relation to all we have experienced over the last two years through the pandemic and other upheavals around the globe are as follows:
Why? What is our purpose?
Where is God in this?
Who are we called to be?
How do we get there? What’s next?
What does this mean? What does this mean for us?
Before we get to these questions though, I would like to invite you into a time of prayer that can help you get more comfortable with asking questions of and to God. We do this because questioning God is something many people were taught not to do. They were taught that our duty is simply to accept what God does without question. So to ask questions of God may be new for you, it may go against what you were taught as your faith formed, and given that, it may be something very uncomfortable for you.
To boldly ask questions of God though puts you in good company. Jesus himself comes to God in a posture of questioning. Wondering in the Garden of Gethsemane with the repeated word “if”. “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me” and “if this cannot pass unless I drink it” In both cases, Jesus concedes to God’s will, but his posture of questioning whether there might be another way is clear. In his posture, we are invited to question ourselves, with the purpose of our prayer, like Jesus’ to align out will with that of God. However, that alignment does not happen in an authentic way without our asking the questions we need to.
To help us begin asking questions with this prayer practice, you will need a small piece of sturdy paper that you will use multiple times and a pen or pencil. Begin praying by asking God a question and as you do so, write a large question mark in the center of your paper. Follow that question with another, and as you ask it, loosely trace another question mark over the first. Continue with your questions and your repeated marking of question marks, as you do so, take time to listen, and as your question mark becomes more and more bold through repeated questions, allow your questions of God to become more bold as well.
Through this season of Lent, carry the questions you ask with you, continue to be in conversation about them with God, and take note of any answers that you might receive.
Take time to engage with this prayer practice.