Lent originated in the early centuries of church history as a time of preparation for Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts until Holy Saturday, the Saturday before Easter. The last week of Lent is called Holy Week, which includes both Maundy Thursday (commemorating the institution of the Lord’s Supper) and Good Friday (commemorating the crucifixion of our Lord). Reminiscent of Israel’s forty years in the wilderness and Jesus’ forty days of fasting in the wilderness, the Lenten season, not counting Sundays, lasts forty days. Sundays are not included because the Lord’s Day, according to church tradition, is never a fast day but always a feast day, a celebration of the resurrection.
Lent is traditionally observed by fasting, penitence, almsgiving, self-denial, and, above all, prayer. While commending these practices, we heed the prophets in remembering that it is our hearts and lives that God seeks. We humble ourselves
before God, confessing our sin and total inadequacy, stripping ourselves bare of all pretense. We place our needs, fear, failures, hopes and lives into the hands of God. We confess that our only hope is in Christ, who lived, died, and rose on our behalf.
a daily Lenten prayer
You may find the following format for daily prayer and Scripture readings a helpful guide. It can be followed with family and friends, or in solitude. May God renew our repentance and faith this Lenten season!
»» Consider who Jesus is and who you are.
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
»» Meditate on the week’s psalm of lament (Expressing sadness, frustration or despair to God) and confession. Respond to the psalm with your own prayer of lament and confession. You may want to use one of these Prayers of Confession as a guide:
Almighty Father; we enter your presence confessing the things we try to conceal from you and the things we try to conceal from others. We confess the heartbreak, worry, and sorrow we have caused, that make it difficult for others to forgive us, the times we have made it easy for others to do wrong, the harm we have done that makes it hard for us to forgive ourselves. Lord have mercy and forgive us through Christ. Amen.
Gracious God, our sins are too heavy to carry, too real to hide, and too deep to undo. Forgive what our lips tremble to name, what our hearts can no longer bear, and what has become for us a consuming fire of judgment. Set us free from a past that we cannot change; open to us a future in which we can be changed; and grant us grace to grow more and more in your likeness and image, through Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Amen.
»» Meditate on the coming Sunday’s text from Matthew. These texts describe the days leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion.
»» Meditate on the day’s Scripture Lesson. These 40 lessons are drawn from Genesis to Revelation and survey the history of God’s plan to buy back the world from Sin.
»» Close in prayer, seeking the presence of Christ.
daily scripture readings
Ash Wednesday (February 13)
Weekly Psalm of Lament: Psalm 123
Thursday Gen 3.1-24
Friday Gen 12.1-9
Saturday Gen 15.1-6