A Collection of 10 Ancient and Modern Prayers for Lent

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The 40 days of Lent are characterized by prayerfulness, repentance, fasting and outward acts of service. For many contemporary churches that are just beginning to pattern their lives around the Christian calendar, there is a struggle to know how to incorporate appropriate prayers into the Lenten gatherings. I’ve collected together 10 prayers that span 1600 years. Each one could be used in your own personal times of devotion, or within the broader church gathering. Additionally, their content and focus may serve as a springboard for your liturgical writers and creative planners to develop your own original prayers for worship.

A Prayer from Augustine of Hippo:

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy.
Guard me, O Holy Spirit, that I myself may always be holy.
Amen.

A Prayer from John Wesley:

O merciful Father, do not consider what we have done against you;
but what our blessed Savior has done for us.
Don’t consider what we have made of ourselves,
but what He is making of us for you our God.
O that Christ may be “wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption”
to every one of our souls.
May His precious blood may cleanse us from all our sins,
and your Holy Spirit renew and sanctify our souls.
May He crucify our flesh with its passion and lusts,
and cleanse all our brothers and sisters in Christ across the earth.
Amen.

A Prayer from Deitrich Bonhoeffer:

I Cannot Do This Alone
O God, early in the morning I cry to you.
Help me to pray and to concentrate my thoughts on you;
I cannot do this alone.
In me there is darkness, but with you there is light;
I am lonely, but you do not leave me; I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help;
I am restless, but with you there is peace. In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience;
I do not understand your ways, but you know the way for me….
Restore me to liberty, and enable me to live now hat I may answer before you and before men.
Lord whatever this day may bring, Your name be praised.
Amen.

Three Prayers from the Anglican can Book of Common Prayer:

Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan;
Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations;
and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us,
let each one find you mighty to save;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy:
Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways,
and bring them again with penitent hearts
and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son;
who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves 
to help ourselves:
Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and
 inwardly in our souls,
that we may be defended from all
 adversities which may happen to the body,
and from all evil 
thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul;
through Jesus
Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

A Prayer of Intercession from John Birch

(inspired by Psalm 145: 14)

The LORD upholds all those who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down. (Psalm 145:14)
God of love, hear the cry of those who yearn for love;
fractured families, broken homes, neglected, unwanted, alone –
God of love, hear our prayer

God of justice, hear the cry of those who yearn for justice;
persecuted and oppressed, exploited, ill-treated, broken –
God of justice, hear our prayer.

God of peace, hear the cry of those who yearn for peace;
in battle zones and broken states, frightened, fearful, anxious –
God of peace, hear our prayer.

God of healing, hear the cry of those who yearn for healing;
physical and spiritual hurting, weakened, depressed –
God of healing, hear our prayer.

God of mercy, hear the cry of those who yearn for mercy;
convicted, in need of your Grace, contrite, humble, bowed down –
God of mercy, hear our prayer.

I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. (Psalm 116:1, 2)

May you know the peace of God, the love of God,
The justice of God, the healing and mercy of God
This day and all days
Amen.

A Prayer of Confession from the Worship Sourcebook:

God of mercy, you sent Jesus Christ to seek and save the lost.
We confess that we have strayed from you and turned aside from your way.
We are misled by pride, for we see ourselves pure when we are stained and great when we are small.
We have failed in live, neglected justice, and ignored your truth.
Have mercy, O God, and forgive our sin.
Return us to paths of righteousness through Jesus Christ, our Savior.
Amen.

A Prayer from International Committee on English in the Liturgy (ICEL):

Father in Heaven, the light of your truth bestows sight
to the darkness of sinful eyes.
May this season of repentance bring us the blessing of Your forgiveness
and the gift of Your light.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

A Prayer for Hope & Solidarity from Annabel Shilson-Thomas

Lord, you set your face towards Jerusalem
and walked alongside those who suffer.
Be our vision that we too may walk the way of the cross
and extend a hand to those we meet.

Lord, give us the gladness of your help
And support us with a willing spirit.

Lord, you stopped to heal the sick, cure the lame
and give sight to the blind.
Be our vision that we too may give time to others
and respond to their needs.

Lord, give us the gladness of your help
And support us with a willing spirit.

Lord, you said, “The first shall be last and the last first.”
Be our vision that we too may work towards your kingdom
when the exalted will be brought low and the lowly exalted.

Lord, give us the gladness of your help
And support us with a willing spirit.

Lord, you ate with tax collectors and sinners and heard their stories.
Be our vision that we too may listen to the despised and rejected
and value their lives.

Lord, give us the gladness of your help
And support us with a willing spirit.

Lord, you took time to pray and time to be silent.
Be our vision that through our prayers, fasting and almsgiving
we too may draw closer to you and find your way.

Lord, give us the gladness of your help
And support us with a willing spirit.

Lord, you entered Jerusalem with peace in your heart.
Be our vision that we too may desire peace where others desire war,
and may work for justice where injustice reigns.

Lord, give us the gladness of your help
And support us with a willing spirit
For you are our hope and our salvation.

Amen.

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Elizabeth Rhyno is passionate about investing in leaders of the Church. Her desire is to shepherd people to worship freely in spirit and in truth. Elizabeth holds a BMus from Dalhousie University, and an MA in Ministry from Lee University. Wife to Scott and mom to three teenagers (sons Mackenzie & Morgan, and daughter Grace), Elizabeth aims to approach daily life, teaching, leading, songwriting, mentoring and writing with spiritual formation consistently in view. Elizabeth and her family reside in Fishers, Indiana.

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