A Prayer to Begin Lent

During (and after) the Advent season, I felt the need to focus on the theme of desire and longing. Now, here we are beginning the season of Lent, and what better word to sum up the experience than desire? Isn’t this much of what Lent is about–to give up that which we desire, in order to more clearly recognize the emptiness of all but Christ? The chance to see how desperately we long for a Savior, since our small earthly attempts at meaningful spiritual discipline are wobbly and incomplete at best?

But maybe Lent could be about more than just restraining a particular desire, as helpful as that may be. This weekend our pastor preached out of Isaiah 58-59, and I couldn’t help but hear the echoes of these words as I sit here today. I’m taping this prayer on my mirror for the 40 days and would invite you to join me, if you’d like.

Lord,

We confess the many ways we have tried to please you, please others, and please ourselves through mere religious activity.

We confess the times we have thwarted or ignored justice out of ignorance, arrogance, or self interest.

We confess the times we’ve signed up or showed up with hearts without generosity or love.

We ask for you to give us new hearts and new desires.

Show us what it means to loose the bonds of wickedness, undo the yoke of oppression, and share our food with the hungry.

Let us be called the repairers of the ruins, the restorers of streets to dwell in. Help us see outside the narrow confines of our self-interest and seek the thriving of our city and community.

Instead of just trying harder, may we be forever ruined by your astounding love, eager to give the same love to others.

Teach us to pour ourselves out for the afflicted, knowing we will be fully satisfied in You.

Amen.

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