“Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;” Hebrews 10:22-23 NASB
As the Lenten season begins, we are challenged to reflect and prepare in prayer for Easter. Even if you do not come from a denominational background that observes Lent we want to encourage you to take these 40 days to pray and respond to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many people choose to “give up” something for Lent. This is not to be equated with a New Year’s resolution that seeks to improve us, even though the action or object that is chosen is often a bad habit or something that is of great value or enjoyment. This is a small reflection from our hearts as we pause and ponder all that Jesus lavishly gave and sacrificed for us. Of course, there is nothing that we can sacrifice that could ever come close to the incredible sacrifice Jesus made for us, but it is a significant practice to express humility and gratefulness.
You may have already decided how you will observe the Lenten season or have your own traditions leading up to Easter, but we want to urge you to prepare through prayer. Over the next forty days we want to encourage and engage with you to increase and strengthen your prayer time to forty minutes each day.
Some of you are thinking, “No problem, I already pray more than forty minutes every day,” while others of you are thinking, “I have no idea how I am going to do this.” It is our prayer that we can equip both groups, and everyone in between, in praying in agreement and unity through specific prompts each day. This season will challenge you to increase your prayers in subject and span each day for forty days and we will all grow and pray God’s glory across the earth.
There are several ways for you to observe this season with us; you can choose to begin by praying for two minutes on the first day and add two minutes each day until you get to forty minutes and then sustain that practice. In twenty days, you will be praying for forty minutes and then sustain this practice for twenty more. We will also use our social media to prompt you each day. If that seems too aggressive you could add one minute each day and end with forty minutes and if you want to increase more quickly you could add or even double your time each day. Of course, the number of minutes is not as important as the preparation and condition of the heart. It is our hope that you draw nearer and deeper to the Lord leading up to, through and beyond Easter.
If you have decided to give up something for Lent, be encouraged in prayer to persevere. All of us can be strengthened for the challenges and opportunities of each day as we pray. Scripture will be a key part of our prayer time each day, and we encourage you to let the Spirit lead you and for you to linger in His presence and listen as you pray, or if you feel you have run out of things to say. The first week will center around some of the basic parts of prayer and the following weeks will build from these basics as we increase our time of interceding in prayer for other. If you are curious or already willing to join us in unified prayer for the next forty days, the first week of prayer prompts are included below. We will send the additional prompts in the articles each week and all forty days will be posted on our website late next week.
Preparing our Hearts in Prayer: A Lenten and Lengthened Season of Prayer
Day 1: Praise : 1 Chronicles 29:11, "Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all.”
Praise is an acknowledgment and affection of God’s attributes. They are easily found in Scripture by searching, “God is,” or “the Lord is.” Praise is different than Thanksgiving – praise professes who God is and thanksgiving gives gratitude and acknowledgement for what He does. Spend at least 2 minutes praising God.
Day 2: Confession: Psalm 32:5, “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD "; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah”
We are called to confess our sin. Confession does not inform God of our sin, He already knows all we have thought, said and done. Confession admits our guilt and our need for His forgiveness. Confession removes Satan’s ability to speak guilt or shame into our life because we are fully forgiven with nothing to hide in Christ. Spend time today confessing your sin then receiving and thanking God for His forgiveness.
Day 3: Love: 1 John 4:16, “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”
In praise we pray God is love. In your prayers today praise Him as love and the author of real love. Profess His love for you and recall the ways He has shown you His love. For example, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Spend time thinking about and thanking him for His love. Tell God how much you love Him.
Day 4: Showing Love: 1 John 4:7, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”
As you continue to think about God’s love; realize that one of the first songs children learn in church is, “Jesus Loves Me.” It is a simple but powerful song because people who live knowing they are loved live differently, powerfully, and in security. Ask God to help you live in His love and to show and share His love with others around you. Ask Him to give you opportunities to share and show His love with friends, family and even strangers who need hope in Him.
Day 5: Ask: Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
If you have had any experience praying, you’ve probably asked God for something. Some ask for help, health, guidance, provision, protection, or a list of other things we want or need. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking God for something in prayer, as a matter of fact He tells us to ask Him for what we need. If you are concerned about your intensions or what receiving the answer to that prayer might mean for you, fear not, God knows what is best for us and will not allow anything that is against His Kingdom plan. We may not understand His answer or even agree with it, but faith must rest in knowing He is God, He loves us and His answers flow from those two facts in that order. Asking professes our dependency on Him and submits to His decision and provision.
Day 6: Identity: Galatians 4:6-7, “Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”
This is a challenging subject in today’s culture. People all around us are struggling with who they are; where do they find their identity, who or what defines them. This may describe you. I think we all experience times when we ask, “Who am I?” Ask God who you are and study His Word for truth to settle this matter once and for all. You are not your job, grades, relationships, bank account; you are not even the sum of your decisions. In Christ you are God’s child and friend. You are precious, saved, forgiven, chosen, loved, being perfected, sealed in redemption and walking in righteousness. Read, record and recite Scripture in prayer. Thank Jesus for being your creator, redeemer and author of your days and definition. Commit to repenting whenever you say something untrue about yourself that does not reflect His Word and affection.
Day 7: Courage: 1 Corinthians 16:13, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”
What are you afraid of? It is one thing to keep a healthy distance from snakes, spiders, people who disregard the rules and laws, and other dangerous situations, but fear is another level. Fear grips us, it causes us to be paralyzed, keeping us from accomplishing what God has for us and walking in the blessings He has prepared. Fear says that possible circumstances are bigger and stronger than our God. In your prayer time talk to God about your fears. Some fears stem from love, not wanting to lose someone or something. Share your heart and ask Him to give you courage. Speak trusting words, speak truth, profess His power and protection over your life and the ones you love.
Day 8: Sing: Psalm 9:2, “I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.”
One of the easiest ways to extend your prayer time is to sing a hymn or worship song. Letting God know that you adore Him, as you express His majesty and glory in prayer may remind you of songs that stick in your mind and heart throughout the day. Use these songs to extend your prayer time and think about the words you are singing; take them to heart, pray them and put them into practice.
Serving Him with Gladness,