Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. – Psalm 51:10
The human heart is a vital organ, a big muscle that pumps blood through the vessels of our circulatory system, but the metaphorical heart is also a matter of life and death. It has been understood as the seat of our decisions and actions. In this way the heart is implicated in the choices of lovers and fools, and who among us hasn't been both at some time in our life?
The metaphorical heart is also crucial for faith. I'm a pretty cerebral guy, but even so, it has more often been my heart than my head that has moved me Godward.
Blaise Pascal, the influential seventeenth-century French mathematician, wrote this about faith and the heart: "The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know. We feel it in a thousand things. It is the heart that experiences God, and not the reason. This, then, is faith: God felt by the heart, not by the reason."
We need both head and heart for faith, but in Lent especially we long for better, cleaner hearts that are more attuned to the heart of God.
We pray that we may be more loving, more kind, more just, more faithful.
Create in us clean hearts, O God, and a new and right spirit within us.
Richard L. Floyd is Pastor Emeritus of First Church of Christ (UCC) in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. and author of A Course In Basic Christianity and When I Survey the Wondrous Cross: Reflections on the Atonement. He blogs at richardlfloyd.com.