5 Lenten Prayers to Prepare Your Heart for Easter
5 Lenten Prayers to Prepare Your Heart for Easter
Heather Riggleman Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
One friend quipped that she had purchased a book of Lenten Prayers too. Being new, I was confused about what Lent was, aside from Lenten prayers.
Barely a year into my Christian walk, I was out shopping with friends when they began talking about what they were going to give up for Lent. One friend quipped that she had purchased a book of Lenten Prayers too. Being new, I was confused about what Lent was, aside from Lenten prayers. After all, it’s the stuff you pull from the trap from your dryer, right? Yes and no. Lent is the 40 days not including Sundays from Ash Wednesday to the Saturday before Easter. Lent is often described as a time of preparation and an opportunity to go deeper with God. This means that it’s a time for personal reflection that prepares people’s hearts and minds for Good Friday and Easter.
Over the years, I began to anticipate this season because I wanted to grow deeper in my relationship with God. So, each year as the holiday approached, I began reflecting inward and asking God to open my eyes to things or habits that were keeping me from a deeper relationship with Him. Some years were tough because as I gave up TV, soda, chocolate, etc. Other years, I added in something specific too like prayer walks, or participating in a study. However, all the time spent focusing on God brought me closer and taught me so many lessons during each season.
What Is Lent?
So, what exactly is Lent? Christianity.com says, “The Lenten season developed as part of the historical Christian calendar and is typically celebrated by Catholics and some mainline Protestant churches that follow a liturgical calendar. Although its format has varied throughout the centuries and throughout different cultures, the basic concept remains the same: to open our hearts to God's refining grace through prayer, confession, fasting, and almsgiving as we anticipate Holy Week. Lent traditionally lasts forty days, modeled after Christ's forty-day fast in the desert, and ends on Good Friday. In the Western Church, Lent officially begins with a reminder of our mortality on Ash Wednesday.”
During those 40 days, Jesus fasted from food and water and prayed. This is where the three main focuses of Lent come from: prayer, fasting (abstaining from something to reduce distractions and focus more on God), and giving, or charity. The idea is that giving up something that is a regular part of life, like scrolling through social media, giving up sugar, or dessert can be a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice. That time can also be replaced with more time connecting with God.
Fasting: Fasting, or giving something up, is a very common practice during Lent.
Prayer: Prayer during lent focuses on our need for God’s forgiveness. It’s also about turning away from our sins and receiving God’s mercy and love.
Charity or Volunteer Work: Some people spend time volunteering or donate the money they would normally use to buy something, like their morning coffee.
What Does the Bible Say about Lent?
How Lent became a tradition is unclear. However, some say the early church father Irenaus of Lyons (c.130-c.200) wrote of such a season in the earliest days of the church, but back then it lasted only two or three days, not the 40 days observed today. But we do know it started soon after Jesus’ time on earth. Christians were participating in Lent before they even formally decided which books would make it into the Bible. That’s pretty early. While the word Lent isn’t mentioned in the Bible, some of the Scriptures are a basis for Lent.
How Do Christians Prepare for Lent?
Nearly six in 10 Americans (57 percent) who observe Lent say they give up a favorite food or beverage from Ash Wednesday until Easter, making it a more popular sacrifice than avoiding a bad habit (35 percent) or favorite activity (23 percent), LifeWay Research. In western Christianity, Ash Wednesday marks the first day of the lent season. The next 40 days (Technically 46, as Sundays are not included in the count). Many churches hold services that evening to commemorate the day. In some churches, a priest distributes ashes by lightly rubbing the symbol of the cross on foreheads. This tradition was meant to identify the faithful with Jesus. It also represents repentance from sin as well as Jesus Christ's sacrificial death to set followers free from sin and death. While the Bible doesn’t mention Lent, the practice of repentance and mourning in ashes is found in 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3; and Matthew 11:21.
The next 40 days are focused on Christ. Time is set aside to think about whether they are living in a way that honors the Lord. Some will ask for God’s forgiveness for the times they mess up, seek the Lord to live the way God wants. As Easter approaches, a feeling of celebration rises because we know God conquered sin and made a way for us through His Son.
5 Lenten Prayers
Prayer is perhaps the most important tool we have as Christians. Sometimes we forget how mighty our God is. He is the One who named every star and knows every cell in your body. Too often, we rush through life and forget to talk to God and sometimes our prayers focus more on what God can do for us than what we can do for Him. Here are five prayers to use through lent and the events that follow!
Lenten Prayer for Strength and Guidance
Lord God Almighty, shaper and ruler of all creatures, we pray for your great mercy, that you guide us towards you, for we cannot find our way. And guide us to your will, to the need of our soul, for we cannot do it ourselves. And make our mind steadfast in your will and aware of our soul’s need. Strengthen us against the temptations of the devil, and remove from us all lust and every unrighteousness, and shield us against our foes, seen and unseen. Teach us to do your will, that we may inwardly love you before all things with a pure mind. For you are our maker and our redeemer, our help, our comfort, our trust, our hope; praise and glory be to you now and forever. – Prayers for Lent
Lent Prayer for a Clean Heart
Create a clean heart in me, O God: a humble heart, a meek heart, a peaceful heart, a benevolent heart, a devout heart which does evil to no one, which does not repay evil for evil, but overcomes evil with good, which loves you above all things, thinks always about you, speaks about you, gives you thanks, delights in hymns and spiritual songs, and has its citizenship in heaven. Amen. – Prayers for Lent
Lenten Prayer for Spiritual Renewal
God, heavenly Father, look upon me and hear my prayer during this holy Season of Lent. By the good works You inspire, help me to discipline my body and to be renewed in spirit. Without You I can do nothing. By Your Spirit help me to know what is right and to be eager in doing Your will. Teach me to find new life through penance. Keep me from sin, and help me live by Your commandment of love. God of love, bring me back to You. Send Your Spirit to make me strong in faith and active in good works. May my acts of penance bring me Your forgiveness, open my heart to Your love, and prepare me for the coming feast of the Resurrection of Jesus. Lord, during this Lenten Season, nourish me with Your Word of life and make me one with You in love and prayer. Fill my heart with Your love and keep me faithful to the Gospel of Christ. Give me the grace to rise above my human weakness. Give me new life by Your Sacraments, especially the Mass. Father, our source of life, I reach out with joy to grasp Your hand; let me walk more readily in Your ways. Guide me in Your gentle mercy, for left to myself I cannot do Your Will. Father of love, source of all blessings, help me to pass from my old life of sin to the new life of grace. Prepare me for the glory of Your Kingdom. I ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever. Amen. – Lenten Prayer for Renewal
Sunday Prayers for Holy Week
Loving God, I am just beginning to realize how much you love me. Your son, Jesus was humble and obedient. He fulfilled your will for him by becoming human and suffering with us. I ask you for the desire to become more humble so that my own life might also bear witness to you. I want to use the small sufferings I have in this world to give you glory. Please, Lord, guide my mind with your truth. Strengthen my life by the example of Jesus. Help me to be with Jesus in this week as he demonstrates again his total love for me. He died so that I would no longer be separated from you. Help me to feel how close you are and to live in union with you.—Creighten.Edu
Dear God, Thank you that you make all things new. Thank you for the victory and power in your Name. Thank you that you hold the keys over death, that by your might, Jesus was raised from the grave, paving the way for us to have new life with you. Thank you that you had plan, that you made a way.
We confess our need for you…fresh…new…again. We ask that you renew our hearts, minds, and lives, for the days ahead. We pray for your refreshing over us.
Keep your words of truth planted firm within us, help us to keep focused on what is pure and right, give us the power to be obedient to your word. And when the enemy reminds us where we have been, hissing his lies and attacks our way, we trust that your voice speaks louder and stronger, reminding us we are safe with you and that your purposes and plans will not fail. We ask that you will be our defense and rear guard, keeping our way clear, removing the obstacles, and covering the pitfalls. Lord, lead us on your level ground.
Shine your light in us, through us, over us. May we make a difference in this world, for your glory and purposes. Set you way before us. May all your plans succeed. We may reflect your peace and hope to a world that so desperately needs your presence and healing.
Thanks be to you God, for your indescribable gift! To you be glory and honor, on this Resurrection Day, and forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen - Debbie McDaniel
Photo credit: ©Unsplash/Austin Ban
Heather Riggleman is an award-winning journalist and a regular contributor for Crosswalk. She calls Nebraska home with her three kids and a husband of 22 years. She believes Jazzercise, Jesus, and tacos can fix anything and not necessarily in that order! She is author of I Call Him By Name Bible Study, the Bold Truths Prayer Journal, Mama Needs a Time Out, and a contributor to several books. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com or on Facebook.