Prayers For Lent (Weeks 4 to 6)

Lent began on February 14, but now that March is here everyone in invited to join others from Orleans United Church to take a few minutes each day and prayerfully reflect on Jesus’ journey toward Easter.  All you need is to read a verse from the Bible story printed right here and reflect on the prayer that is offered and how that might feed and nurture your spirit each day in Lent.

Today’s post includes readings and prayers for the second 3 weeks of Lent:

  • Week 4 (A Season of Challenge) highlights wisdom from Matthew’s Gospel which helps discern our faith response to Jesus’ Lenten invitations.
  • Week 5 (A Season of Believing) accentuates the Gospel of John’s encouragement to trust in Jesus’ spirit-filled wisdom and power as we make our way to Easter.
  • Week 6 (A Season with “I AM”) looks at the seven “I am ...” verses from John’s Gospel, remembering that in Exodus God said to Moses, “I am who I am” (“Yahweh” in Hebrew and translated LORD in NRSV).

The Lenten season is framed as a spiritual journey that prepares us to celebrate Easter and new life.  Every week, these short readings from different Gospel traditions shape our faith response. 

In each of the four Gospels there comes a point in the story of Jesus’ ministry when he makes the clear decision to begin the journey toward Jerusalem and Easter.  We follow Jesus’ fateful steps as our guide through this season as we prepare for Easter, listening for and responding to God’s loving invitation.

One curiosity in Lent is the understanding that, because every Sunday is always celebrated as “the day of resurrection,” Easter, our forty days of Lenten prayer and self-reflection do not include Sundays.  As a way to honor this tradition, for each Sunday during the Lenten season, our reading and prayer will focus on the same resurrection promise of Jesus from the Easter story. 

With grace, mercy and peace on your journey.

Glen Stoudt, OUC Spiritual Director

Week 4 - The Wisdom of Matthew:  A Season of Challenge
If you are able, consider reading chapters 19 and 20 to give you some context in Matthew.

Monday, March 4 – Lent Day 17 (Matthew 19:23-24)
Then Jesus said to his disciples ...  “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Sometimes I feel rich, and sometimes poor ... help me, Challenging Spirit, to resist the temptation to allow my obsession with material wealth to sidetrack me from living faithfully.

Tuesday, March 5 – Lent Day 18 (Matthew 19:30)
[Jesus said to them,] “... many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”
Lord of Grace, dare me to trust that, when I willingly make a sacrifice to benefit someone in need (not because I’m expected to or manipulated to), in your heart I’m a winner, not a loser.

Wednesday, March 6 – Lent Day 19 (Matthew 20:18-19)
[Jesus said] “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.”
My heart breaks when I consider what you imagined your destiny would be like, Strong Jesus;
I feel like one of those disciples who would not accept your struggle.  Strengthen me to face my struggles, however big or small, with the same Spirit-grounded courage you showed.

Thursday, March 7 – Lent Day 20 (Matthew 20:25-26)
Jesus called [the disciples] to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant.”
Servant Saviour, the story of your life gives me the greatest example for daily living I can embrace.  Challenge me anew to find authentic ways to serve others in your name.

Friday, March 8 – Lent Day 21 (Matthew 20:29-30)
As they were leaving Jericho ... there were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” 
Merciful Jesus, whatever it is deep within me that compels me to call out your name,
welcome the deepest longing of my heart and lift my spirit.

Saturday, March 9 – Lent Day 22 (Matthew 20:32-33)
Jesus stood still and called them, saying, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.”
Lord, instill within me a heartfelt trust that you know what I need most, even before I ask; then grant me the wisdom to humbly name it for you, yes ... but especially for myself.

Sunday, March 10 – Fourth Sunday in Lent - Remembering the Resurrection (John 20:19, 21-22)
When it was evening on that day [of resurrection] ... Jesus came and stood among them and said… “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
O Risen Christ, help me feel your Spirit’s breath today, so I may join you in proclaiming
Easter’s peace with everyone in every circumstance throughout my Lenten journey.

Week 5 - The Wisdom of John:  A Season of Believing
If you are able, it may be helpful to review John 10:22-11:53.

Monday, March 11 – Lent Day 23 (John 10:24-25)
The Jews gathered around [Jesus] and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me.”
Just by calling you “Messiah,” I need to revisit who I believe you really are for me
and what you are at work doing in my everyday living.  Bless me, Enlivening Messiah.

Tuesday, March 12 – Lent Day 24 (John 10:37-38)
[Jesus continued,] “If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
Your example of showing lovingkindness toward others as you made your way toward
Good Friday and Easter Sunday inspires me.  Thank you, Jesus, for being my role model
in discovering what it looks like to be one with the Father.

Wednesday, March 13 – Lent Day 25 (John 10:40-42)
[Jesus] went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. Many came to him, and they were saying, “John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” And many believed in him there.
Did you need some time away to reflect on where you have travelled since your baptism?
Living Christ, guide me to find my quiet place in your presence as I walk this Lenten journey.

Thursday, March 14 – Lent Day 26 (John 11:17,20-21)
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. ...  20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Lord, what I believe about your power over life and death is not always clear and, like Martha, I struggle with feeling that you are not always here with me.  Help my unbelief.

Friday, March 15 – Lent Day 27 (John 11:32-35)
When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping ... he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. 
Weeping Saviour, it humbles me to witness your grief; the depths of feeling you willingly expressed gives me permission to risk sharing my own loss and sorrow with those who love me.

Saturday, March 16 – Lent Day 28 (John 11:40-41,43-44)
Jesus said to [Mary], “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. ...  When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out. ... Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
Liberating God, when loss and grief weigh heavy on me, call me forth, unbind me
and set me free to live fully as your partner in this Spirit-inspired, life-affirming work.

Sunday, March 17 – Fifth Sunday in Lent - Remembering the Resurrection (John 20:19, 21-22)
When it was evening on that day [of resurrection] ... Jesus came and stood among them and said… “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
O Risen Christ, help me feel your Spirit’s breath today, so I may join you in proclaiming
Easter’s peace with everyone in every circumstance throughout my Lenten journey.

Week 6 - The Wisdom of John (continued):  A Season with “I AM”

Monday, March 18 – Lent Day 29 (John 6:35)
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” 
Eternal Source of Life-nourishing Bread, feed my soul today with enough of your goodness that
I may feel inspired to share my surplus with those who are hungry in the world around me.

Tuesday, March 19 – Lent Day 30 (John 8:12)
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” 
May your warm, radiant glow illuminate me from the inside out, O Living Light,
so I might brighten the lives of those whose experience feels like darkness and drudgery.

Wednesday, March 20 – Lent Day 31 (John 10:7,9)
Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. ...  9 Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.”
Blessed Gateway along this spiritual journey, I am deeply grateful for the
sense of safety and security in your presence and for the encouragement
to cross the threshold out to a daily life of surrender and service.

Thursday, March 21 – Lent Day 32 (John 10:14-15)
[Jesus said,] “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.”
To know your faithfulness, Good Shepherd, assures me of how deeply I am known and cared for; throughout the rest of this Lenten season continue to ground my identity in your loving sacrifice.

Friday, March 22 – Lent Day 33 (John 14:6-7)
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also.” 
As a follower of Jesus, I am encouraged by the path of truth and life he creates for me;
Loving Way, broaden my heart to honour the many other ways people discover you.

Saturday, March 23 – Lent Day 34 – John 15:5
[Jesus said,] “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” 
I feel empowered by this image of connection and relationship, O Sacred Vine ...
with you, the Source of Life, and with those among whom I share the fruit of your love.

Palm Sunday, March 24 – Sixth Sunday in Lent - Remembering the Resurrection (John 11:25-26)
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
Living Resurrection Promise, who reaches beyond the threat and fear of death,
speak boldly to my heart this Palm Sunday and motivate me to trust anew that
“in life, in death, in life beyond death, you are with us.  We are not alone.”