Prayers for Lent

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This week, we went to our first Ash Wednesday service for our devotions one night. The Lutheran Church was just a short, very chilly walk away and we thought it would interesting. It was more meaningful for me than I expected. Silas spent the service drawing crosses and people with crosses on their foreheads. We all recieved the ash cross on our foreheads with the words “Remember, from dust you were created and to dust you will return.” There was something very striking about thinking about our humanity as a group like that. There were also times for liturgy and self-examination. I particularly liked this confession prayer and felt conviction on nearly every line.

Most holy and merciful God,

we confess to you and to one another and before the whole company of heaven, that we have sinned by our fault, by our own fault, by our own most grievous fault, 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. We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.
Have mercy on us, O God.

We have shut our ears to your call to serve as Christ served us. We have not been true to the mind of Christ. We have grieved your Holy Spirit.
Have mercy on us, O God.

Our past unfaithfulness, the pride, the envy, hypocrisy, and apathy that have infected our lives, we confess to you.
Have mercy on us, O God.

Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people, we confess to you.
Have mercy on us, O God.

Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to share the faith that is in us, we confess to you.
Have mercy on us, O God.

Our neglect of human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty, we confess to you.
Have mercy on us, O God.

Our false judgements, our uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors and our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us, we confess to you.
Have mercy on us, O God.

Our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us, we confess to you.
Have mercy on us, O God.

Restore us, O God, for your mercy is great.

I am so thankful that his mercy is great. I need it. Another prayer that has been meaningful to me during Lent is from Brennan Manning. Again, I can identify with nearly every word…

“Jesus, my Brother and Lord, I pray as I write these words for the grace to be truly poor before You, to recognize and accept my weakness and humanness, to forego the indecent luxury of self-hatred, to celebrate Your mercy and trust in Your power when I am at my weakest, to rely on Your love no matter what I may do, to seek no escapes from my innate poverty, to accept loneliness when it comes instead of seeking substitutes, to live peacefully without clarity and assurance, to stop grandstanding and trying to get attention, to do truth quietly without display, to let the dishonesties in my life fade away, to belong no more to myself, not to desert my post when I give the appearance of staying at it, to cling to my humanity, to accept the limitations and full responsibility of being a human being—really human and really poor in Christ our Lord.”

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