Prayers for Lent

A list of prayers for Lent.

During the 40 days of Lent, prayers of confession and lament become even more integral to our daily devotions.  You may wish to pray the same prayer every day, until it becomes as familiar as breathing.  Or perhaps you might choose a new prayer for each week of Lent, or pray through a different Psalm of Confession or Psalm of Lament each day.

 

The Lord's Prayer
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Psalm 139 (NRSV)
O Lord, you have searched me and known me.  You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away.  You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.  Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely….

Psalm 51  (NRSV)
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. … Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. …

Psalm 130 (NRSV)
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.  Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!  If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?  But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered. …

Psalm 22 (NRSV)
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.  Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. …

Other Psalms of Confession & Lament
Psalms 6, 13, 25, 30, 32, 38, 42, 51, 88, 102, 143 and more

 

Prayer of Confession from the Book of Common Prayer
Merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you
with our whole heart and mind and strength.
We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been,
help us amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be,
so that we may delight in your will
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your holy name.
Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

John Chrysostom - Archbishop of Constantinople, 4th century
It is certain that the fathers did well to use such lenience in their desire to establish us in the habit of fasting.  As we know, we could proclaim a fast throughout the whole year, and no one would pay any attention.  But now, with a set time for fasting of only forty days, even the most sluggish need no exhortation to rouse themselves to undergo it.  When someone asks you why you fast, you should not answer; because of the Passover, or because of the cross.  neither of these is the reason for our fasting.  We fast because of our sins, since we are preparing to approach the sacred mysteries.  Moreover, the Christian Passover is a time for neither fasting nor mourning, but for great joy, since the cross destroyed sin and made expiation for the whole world.  It reconciled ancient enmities and opened the gates of heaven.  It made friends of those who had been filled with hatred, restoring them to the citizenship of heaven.  Through the cross our human nature has been set at the right hand of the throne of God, and we have been granted countless good things besides.  Therefore we must not give way to mourning our sadness; we must rejoice greatly instead over all these blessings.

 
We too, then, when we suffer anything for Christ’s sake, should do so not only with courage, but even with joy.  If we have to go hungry, let us be glad as if we were at a banquet.  If we are insulted, let us be elated as though we had been showered with praises.  If we lose all we possess, let us consider ourselves the gainers.  If we provide for the poor, let us regard ourselves as the recipients.  Anyone who does non give in this way will find it difficult to give at all.  So when you wish to distribute alms, do not think only of what you are giving away; think rather of what you are gaining, for your gain will exceed your loss.

Teresa of Avila - 16th century Spanish mystic and writer
This is the method of prayer I then used: Since I could not reflect discursively with the intellect, I strove to picture Christ within me, and it did me great good—in my opinion—to picture him in those scenes where I saw him more alone… The scene of his prayer in the garden, especially, was a comfort to me; I strove to be his companion there.

If I could, I thought of the sweat and agony he had undergone in that place. I desired to wipe away the sweat he so painfully experienced, but I recall that I never dared to actually do it, since my sins appeared to me so serious. I remained with him as long as my thoughts allowed me to, for there were many distractions that tormented me. Most nights for many years before going to bed, when I commended myself to God in preparation for sleep, I always pondered for a little while this episode of prayer in the garden.
(Teresa of Avila: Mystical Writings; Crossroad, 1994

Excerpt from “A Prayer for Lent,”  by Henri Nouwen
How often have I lived through these weeks without paying much attention to penance, fasting, and prayer? How often have I missed the spiritual fruits of the season without even being aware of it? But how can I ever really celebrate Easter without observing Lent? …
(A Cry for Mercy: Prayers from the Genesee; Image Books, 2002)

Excerpt from "Talking with God," by Henry Baron
I must follow you, Lord, on this Lenten journey
I must go where you went
with eyes and ears wide open
if I’m to change.
… keep me listening, Lord of all
let me not get lost or hide among
the heedless sons and daughters
of my own Jerusalem.
(Talking with God; Exxel Publishing, 2010)

Ethiopian Prayer
What an unheard of thing for the Potter to clothe himself in a clay vessel, or the craftsperson in a handicraft!  What humility beyond words for the Creator to clothe himself in the body of a human creature!

Nigerian Prayer
God in heaven, you have helped my life to grow like a tree.  Now something has happened.  Satan, like a bird, has carried in one twig of his own choosing after another.  Before I knew it he had built a dwelling place and was living in it.  Tonight, my Father, I am throwing out both the bird and the nest.

 

 

If you prefer to use web resources for your daily devotions, here are some sites worth exploring:

http://www.taize.fr/en
The Taizé community in France welcomes people from all over the world for prayer and worship.  Follow the links on  this page to resources for “Prayer and Song” and a “Prayer for Each Day.” 

http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/devotionals
This site offers many translations of the Bible and daily devotional materials.

http://www.sacredspace.ie/
“Sacred Space” invites you to spend ten minutes praying as you sit at your computer, with the help of on-screen guidance and scripture chosen specially every day.  

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