Thursday, March 03, 2011

Seeking a shape for your Lenten prayer life?

If you have been preparing yourself for the Lenten journey, and pondering how to shape your prayer life, let me make the following suggestions. They're just that, suggestions, so feel free to adapt or resist as you wish. And feel free to share your own Lenten disciplines with me as well. Remember that Luther said that fasting and other outward preparations serve a good purpose, but the most important thing is to trust that the gospel of Christ is for you. Even through the penitential season of Lent, perhaps especially during a season of heightened piety, a reminder that Christ is for us, rather than we trying to prove that we are for Christ, is an important distinction.

I will publish a second summary of various submitted practices if I receive enough comments.

1) Fast. Pick a day, and fast all day. Or choose something to let go of, especially a meal. Then donate the cost of that meal to ELCA World Hunger. Our congregation is donating to ELCA World Hunger through WELCA, our Lenten soup suppers, and our Sunday school ministry.

2) Use the Mount Carmel Ministries Model for daily prayer as your resource for praying every day using the TRIP method. This is a great ecumenical strategy that aligns our prayers with Moravians and millions of Christians worldwide, as well as aligning us with the prayer ministry of Indian Oaks Mission, the group that first alerted me to this resource.

3) Use this shape to lead prayer topics each day:

Sunday- The Church at Worship. For our home congregation. For winning people into fellowship with Christ. For all church schools, youth ministries, and outdoor ministries.

Monday- The Church in Mission. For the outreach next door and in other lands. For the leaders to carry out this mission.

Tuesday- The Church at Home and School. For households. For the Christian education of all. That people may be led to Christ and the church. For campus ministries, theological seminaries, universities.

Wednesday- The Church Serving Those in Need. For all in special need: aged, sick, poor, or homeless. For those in prison. For all victims of famine, oppression, aggression, and war.

Thursday- The Church in Our Nation and Our World. For those who govern and for those who are governed. For the guidance of God to all who are in authority. For peace and justice.

Friday- The Church in Media. For news reporters, magazines, journals, and authors. For those on Facebook, Twitter, and the Internet. For media personalities and the entertainment industry. For musicians and artists, and all producers of culture.

Saturday- For seedtime and harvest, commerce and industry, leisure and rest, and especially those whose work is dangerous. For the saints and martyrs, and those who now rest from their labors in you.

4) Attend mid-week Lenten worship and join together in a community meal. We host a service at 6 p.m. at GSLC, singing Holden Evening Prayer and weekly meditations on Luther's Small Catechism, with a soup supper following.

5) Learn more about the season and disciplines of Lent, perhaps by reading this lovingly produced Handbook for the Discipline of Lent. The handbook illustrates the consensus that the disciplines of Lent especially include repentance, prayer, fasting, and works of love.

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