Reading time: two minutes. Reed Lessing recently suggested, “Prepare yourself before you prepare the text.” I’m breaking from my eight steps around the Wellness Wheel pattern to revisit spiritual health again this week, just for Lent. We talked two weeks ago about the Lenten journey to the cross, dying and rising. Reflection on the word and the cross is where preparation to preach always begins. It continues with our response to the word in prayer. The wily foe is hard at work to disrupt all of our gospel proclamation during this blessed season. I’m amazed how often Luther talks about prayer as spiritual warfare in the Large Catechism. Over and over in the petitions, “Thy kingdom come… Thy will be done… Lead us not into temptation… Deliver us from Evil,” he makes reference to the devil’s attack. There’s time, if you’re deliberate about it, for a mini-Mid-Lenten prayer retreat. Here’s a few simple suggestions. Mark your calendar. Pick a time. Make it a priority. It might be possible to get away for most of a whole day; it might be necessary to block out a morning or an afternoon. Whatever you can do, mark it down, circle it, tell the Elders and the church secretary that it’s a top priority. Jesus followed the pattern of times away for prayer before significant events. Holy Week is your big event for the year. Get away to pray. Bring your notebook, but don’t bring too much agenda. Prayer is not work; it’s accepting the invitation to rest and abide in the presence of the Lord. Don’t worry about accomplishing anything in particular, just take time to sit with Jesus, to rest in his grace, to share your thoughts, anxieties and dreams, to struggle with him, to cry with him, to laugh with him, whatever. But bring your notebook to jot down the thoughts and stirrings he sends you by his Spirit. Think Sermons. Nothing else on your schedule matches the importance of the public proclamation of the good news. List the texts for the coming days into your notebook and spend some time in those scriptures. Ask God to speak, then listen as he speaks to you first so that you can speak to others. Enjoy. Relax. Rest. If you drift into a (much needed!) nap, that’s good. Smile. Enjoy just having time away to reflect, prepare, rest in God’s loving grace. Remember that your time away in prayer is not selfish. You do this for the sake of those you serve. Thanks for reading. God bless your time in his presence. Do you serve in a multiple staff setting in a church, Lutheran school, university or social service ministry? Discover how a Ministry Team Wellness Workshop can help enhance your team ministry by building the unity, spiritual life and communication essential to partnership in ministry. Contact Program Director Darrell Zimmerman for more information.