A Prayer and Reading Guide for Lent

By Cherie Werner

Today, Christians around the world celebrate Ash Wednesday and officially begin the season of Lent. Lent treats the six weeks leading up to Easter as a time of repentance and reflection. It is a time when we remember the sacrifice our Savior made as payment for our sins.

As a way to prepare your heart for the true joy of Jesus’ resurrection, take some time during these next six weeks to focus on God’s Word. In the meditation plan below, each week provides a selected Scripture verse, reflection prompts, and a prayer starter.

Before you begin each week, ask God to open your eyes to see and understand his Word. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what he would have you to see today and in the week ahead as you meditate on these verses. Also, use the verses to guide and direct your prayers during the week.

If you have time during the week, make an effort to memorize the listed verses for each week. Then, go beyond the passages listed here and read the surrounding verses or chapters.

Week 1 (March 6 - 9)

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8 - 9 ESV).

Think about these:

  • What sins in your life do you need to confess? (If you can’t think of any right away, ask God to reveal them to you. We are often blind to our own sins.)
  • How does it make you feel to know that you are a sinner and you cannot not escape your sin on your own?
  • How does it make you feel to know that after you confess your sin, Jesus forgives you completely?

Prayer starter: Father, root out all the sin in my heart and open my eyes to any sins that I do not see. I praise you, Jesus, for forgiving . . .

Week 2 (March 10 - 16)

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23 - 24 ESV).

Think about these:

  • Did God reveal any hidden sins to you last week? Ask again for his light to shine in your life so that you can overcome any secret sins.
  • God knows you better than you know yourself. In what areas do you need his help to overcome sins that you commit frequently?

Prayer starter: Lord God, help me to recognize the people and situations that lead me to sin against you. Give me the strength to walk away. Pour down Jesus’ forgiveness upon me when I . . .

Week 3 (March 17 - 23)

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it - the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:21 - 24 ESV).

Think about these:

  • Where does righteousness start? How do you become righteous?
  • What does it mean to be justified? What is the source of your justification?
  • From where does faith come?

Prayer starter: Father, forgive me of my sin. Thank you for giving me faith to believe and for covering me with the righteousness of your Son, Jesus. Strengthen my faith and help me more firmly believe in . . .

Week 4 (March 24 - 30)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved - and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:4 - 10 ESV).

Think about these:

  • When did God’s forgiveness for you first start?
  • Why is God so eager to forgive?
  • Why are you saved? What does it mean to be saved?
  • What are you saved from? What are you saved for?
  • What has God created you to do?

Prayer starter: Thank you, dear Lord, for your great mercy and love. You have done so much for me. Show me the good works you would have me do today in your name . . .

Week 5 (March 31 - April 6)

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed (1 Peter 2:24 ESV).

Think about these:

  • What does it mean to “die to sin” in your life?
  • What does it mean to “live to righteousness” in your life?
  • How has God healed you?

Prayer starter: Savior, I praise you for your sacrifice on the cross. Forgive me, heal me, and guide me to live in righteousness. Show me how to . . .

Week 6 (April 7 - 13)

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments (1 John 2:1 - 3 ESV).

Think about these:

  • What is an advocate? How does Jesus advocate for you?
  • Who in your life needs to know that his or her sins are forgiven?
  • How can you get to know God better?

Prayer starter: Lord God, guard my heart against sin. Strengthen me as I stand firm in Jesus’ forgiveness. Keep your commands always in my heart and mind so that . . .

Holy Week (April 14 - 21)

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned - every one - to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:5 - 6 ESV).

Think about these:

  • It is in this week that we remember Jesus’ last supper with his disciples and his betrayal, suffering, and death. He didn’t have to go through all of that. He could have stopped it. Why did he allow all of those things to happen to him?
  • How was Jesus’ suffering beneficial to you?
  • How can you thank Jesus for what he has done for you?

Prayer starter: Dear Savior, forgive me for my part in your suffering and death. Help me to live differently, in accordance with your deep love for me. I want to . . .

Easter (April 21)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death
(Romans 8:1–2 ESV).

Think about these:

  • Jesus is alive! You are forgiven! All of your sins are gone. There is no condemnation. You are set free! What joy does this bring to your heart?
  • After so many weeks of focusing on your sins, how do you feel knowing that because of Jesus, you have been set free from the curse of sin? How does this change your life?

Prayer starter: My risen Jesus, you have set me free! Fill me with your Holy Spirit and help me to live a new life in you! Set my heart on . . .

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