Lenten Daily Prayers: The Third Week

I’ve been searching on the internet for some good photos that display real people in a position of active repentance, and that’s been one of the hardest things in the world to find. One of two things usually appears in looking around; either some semi-porn picture that some idiot who thought they were witty named “repent” or “confess,” or a really really cheesy pseudo-Christian-subculture picture like this:

girl

I usually have too much self-respect to show pictures like that (emphasis on usually). I found a picture on Saturday, however, that really captures penitence for me, so I’ll show it as a visual example to enhance the sense of desperation and crying out that is intended to accompany the season of Lent.

anguish

The Call to Prayer
Open my lips, O Lord, and my mouth will proclaim your praise.Had you desired it, I would have offered sacrifice,but you take no delight in burnt offerings.The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit,and a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
(Psalm 51:16-18)

The Cry of the Church
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

Morning (observed on the hour or half hour between 6 and 9 a.m.)
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me safely to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose, through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

Prayer for the Week
Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who cares for us: Preserve me from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no struggles of this mortal life will hide from me the light of your love that transcends death, and which you have shown to us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Midday (observed on the hour or half hour between 11 am and 2 pm
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the assembly of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the deeds of the Lord!
They are studied by all who delight in them.
His work is full of majesty and splendor,
and his righteousness endures forever.
He makes his marvelous works to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and full of compassion.
The works of his hands are faithfulness and justice;
all his commandments are sure.
They stand fast for ever and ever,
because they are done in truth and equity.
He sent redemption to his people;
he commanded his covenant for ever, holy and awesome is his Name.

Psalm 111:1-4, 7-9

Prayer for the Week (repeat from morning)

The Lord’s Prayer

Evening (observed on the hour or half hour between 5 and 8 pm)O gracious Light,
pure brightness of the everlasting Father in heaven,
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!
Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the evening light,
we sing your praises O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O giver of life,
and to be glorified through all the worlds.

Phos Hilaron (earliest known Christian hymn recorded outside the Bible)

Prayer for the Week (repeat from morning)

The Lord’s Prayer

In case you’re thinking right now, after all these prayers, that this is ridiculous and redundant and stupid to do because “Jesus set us free to just have faith,” (I’ve certainly felt that before), I’d direct you to further wisdom from Phyllis Tickle, something to submit to;

“A wise rabbi once told me that it is not how many prayers we don’t say that matters to God, but rather how many we do. That is important for all of us, but especially for beginners. If this is your first attempt to return to the most ancient of Christian practices, it is wise to remember that you are entering into a discipline and that, like all disciplines, this one sits hard and heavy upon one at times. There are hours you will miss and/or some that you can’t even begin to figure out how to observe. That is all right, for either the joy will carry you into greater joy and turn the discipline into privilege, or you will find yourself simply the wiser and richer for such experience as you have had. As the rabbi said, that is what matters ultimately.”

Or, as the also-wise Richard Foster teaches,

“‘Prayer changes things,’ people say. It also changes us. That latter goal is the more imperative. The primary purpose of prayer is to bring us into such a life of communion with the Father that, by the power of the Spirit, we are increasingly transformed to the image of the Son.”

May you be enriched by the discipline of fixed prayer.

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