Saturday 20th February 2021
One of the classic spiritual disciplines associated with Lent is fasting. It involves abstaining from food and to focus on prayer. In essence it is a form of personal sacrifice of the desires of the body for the things of the Spirit. Not only does fasting greatly focus our attention, but it also helps to free us from the things that bind us to the material world and distractions of our surroundings. It helps in the development of spiritual depth and tenacity. Or as one person puts it, prayer and fasting done together leads to: ‘..a closer relationship with God, spiritual breakthrough and a greater level of self-discipline.
Joel 2: 12-13
‘Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
Matthew 6: 16-18
When you fast, do not look sombre as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Prayers for Lent
Lord, as we enter Lent help us to draw near to you in praise, stripping away all that distracts us from worship. Amen
As Jesus resisted temptation by the devil in the wilderness, help us reflect on his faithfulness to God, his rejection of worldly values and hold these thoughts in our hearts throughout Lent and beyond. Amen
Jesus, you prayed and fasted. As your disciple teach me about spiritual discipline in my relationship with you. Amen
Lord may Lent be a time of inward searching that makes me more able to look with compassion at the needs of the world. Amen
Thank you Lord for desert experiences, when being confronted with myself makes me realise my need of you. Amen
Lord, you've guided us through the difficult days of Lent, encouraging us along the way. We pray as we move towards the darkest day, that you'll not forsake us but remind us of our Saviour's ultimate gift and promise of new, abundant, eternal life for all who believe and trust in him, your precious son, Jesus.
May God the Father,
who does not despise the broken spirit,
give to you a contrite heart.
who bore our sins in his body on the tree,
heal you by his wounds.
May the Holy Spirit,
who leads us into all truth,
speak to you words of pardon and peace.
And the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.