Welcome to our daily readings for Lent.
Thank you for joining us here on Day 1—you’re off to a great start! Perhaps you’re wondering, “What is this about?” Fair enough. As we venture into this experience, I’d like to tell you what to expect about this Season called Lent and where we’re going together over the next 40 days.
What is Lent?
Depending on your church background or experience, we all come to this particular season in the church calendar with different levels of understanding. If you’re newer to church or don’t come from a church background where Lent is traditionally observed, you may have questions surrounding it. Personally, I grew up having a vague awareness that Lent existed, but I didn’t know much about it. In fact, I assumed Lent was something only “Catholics did”—which is NOT TRUE, by the way! The bottom line is that while there are some historically common practices, in reality, there’s no “one” or “right” way to observe Lent.
That said, here’s a brief overview to make sure we’re all starting with the same basic understanding.
Celebrated for centuries among many Christian traditions—from Catholic to Orthodox to various Protestant denominations—the Lenten season lasts 40 days not counting the Sundays along the way. This year, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (February 26) and goes to Holy Saturday (April 11). Lent is simply a time to prepare our hearts and minds so that we can, once again, enter more fully into the history-changing and life-transforming events of Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection. The goal is that we would arrive at Holy Week more fully prepared to allow the reality of Jesus’ personal sacrifice and victory over sin and death to shape our everyday lives.
For most believers throughout history, Lent has been an intentional time of soul-searching, confession, and repentance. In many Christian streams, some form of fasting is included during the Lent season. Fasting is a way to not only identify with Christ’s suffering but also demonstrate a renewed commitment to open our lives to God’s heart-cleansing presence and activity.
This year, we have chosen our Lent focus to be on Prayer. Through this daily blog and Sunday morning sermon topics, we will be challenged and encouraged to be more intentional with our prayer life. My hope is that we will all seek attitudes and activities that create space for God to breathe fresh life into our souls. We will examine the Lord’s Prayer (days 5-10) Asking Prayers (days 11-16), Unanswered Prayers (days 17-22), Abiding Prayers (days 23-28), Listening Prayers (days 29-34) and, Surrender Prayers (days 35-40.)
The invitation is simple: Would you be willing to set aside a few moments each day to learn and practice the wonderful gift of prayer? Would you consider incorporating these prayers in your own life in the coming weeks?
Please don’t feel like you have to make some enormous effort or join a monastery for this to fit into your life. A few minutes each day, set aside, will transform our lives. It really is amazing what God can do with whatever we have to give.
Our deepest hope is that during the next 40 days, we will experience Jesus more deeply through following His encouragement to seek Him in prayer. The truth is, God longs to meet with us. All we have to do is show up.
As we begin this season of reflection and preparation,
we humbly ask that You would meet us where we are in this moment.
As we attempt to grow in our practice and experience of prayer and, ultimately, communion with You, we offer up to You:
any reluctance to fully engage in prayer (again or more deeply),
any fears that our prayers will return empty,
and any suspicion that our effort or time spent in prayer won’t be worth it.
Help us begin.
Help us begin again.
May we offer only what we have (but not less).
Please walk with us. Surprise us. Change us.
Teach us to pray more fully, more honestly, more expectantly.
In Jesus’ Name.
If you aren’t receiving the daily readings in your email and you’d like to, click here: http://bit.ly/LentSignUp2020