During Lent, the Church pulls out the best Collects (the "Opening Prayer," or the prayer the priest says near the beginning of Mass that means we can finally sit down and listen to the readings). Today's is no different. Today's Collect is:
Prompt our actions with your inspiration, we pray, O Lord,Prompt our actions with your inspiration, we pray, O Lord, and further them with your constant help... At the beginning of Lent, as we look ahead to (maybe not look forward to) 40 days of trying to make ourselves holier and closer to God, this is a good prayer we could take for ourselves. God has to be the source of all of our actions, including our Lenten disciplines. I shouldn't ask myself what I'm going to do for Lent, but I should ask God what needs to change about my life, what should decrease, what should increase. If I ask myself, my own ego, content with all of my sin, will simply inform me that I'm fine, relax, and don't change.
and further them with your constant help,
that all we do may always begin from you
and by you be brought to completion.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
...that all we do may always begin from you and by you be brought to completion. We are fickle, silly human beings, and it is not beyond us to try to undertake even Lenten disciplines apart from God. This would be working for God, rather than doing God's work. It would be doing what I think God wants from me without simply asking God what he wants from me. But the work we do, I'm thinking both Lenten disciplines and the life long work of becoming saints, must begin from God, be brought to completion by him, and be sustained by him the whole way through. If our various works don't need God's grace to make them happen, then those works are too lowly for us and aren't worth our time or effort. God has called us to greatness, in and through him. Aspire to do great things this Lent, things that are only possible with God's help.