The meditation on the Collect Prayer for the First Sunday in Lent
Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Our journey through the holy season of Lent begins with that all too familiar story of Jesus in the wilderness and his temptation at the hands of the devil, Satan. If we are to mark this time of contemplation, repentance, and reconciliation then what better way to begin then by diving head-first into the deep-end and confront those things that separate us from the love of God; temptation.
The collect for the first Sunday in Lent tells us two things about ourselves and about God; first that we are assaulted by many temptations, and secondly despite our weaknesses and failures God is forgiving and saves us from ourselves. It is easy to see the temptation all around us, and it isn’t just a desire for material goods that lead us astray like addiction, or money, or pornography; our desire to be loved, to succeed, to be better than our neighbor can also lead to sin and death.
So if temptation surrounds us, lures us, and leads us to actions that separate us from the love of God and others, then where is our hope?
Our hope and our help comes to us from God through Christ Jesus. Though we may want to focus this week on that theme of temptation, but perhaps we can see this from another point of view. The word that is often translated as “temptation” in the story of Jesus in the Wilderness, could also be translated as “trial.” It is the same Greek word that is found in the Pater Noster, “save from the time of trial.” To be human, to be a part of God’s creation means that we will face temptation, we will experience trials, and sometimes like Jesus we will resist, and other times we will succumb to our temptations.
The 4th Century desert mother Theodora said “Let us strive to enter by the narrow gate. Just as the trees, if they have not stood before the winter’s storms cannot bear fruit, so it is with us; this present age is a storm and it is only through many trials and temptations that we can obtain an inheritance in the kingdom of heaven.” Her words ring true for me and for all of us in that we cannot avoid the trials that will test our faith; we cannot run from the sinful side that dwells within all of us. But as the collect reminds us God knows our weaknesses, he stands with us in our trials, and it is through the saving power of Jesus Christ that we will come through the winter storms of our lives so that we become reconciled with God and heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven.
In the week to come may God come quickly to help you as you face the temptations that will separate you from God, and may He strengthen you so that you may remain steadfast in the trials you experience; all this we through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
 Cistercian Studies Series, rev. ed., vol. 59, The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The Alphabetical Collection (London: Mowbray, 1981), 83.