A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Lent – Forty Prayers for Forty Days

Victor Parachin

The season of Lent – forty days leading up to Easter – is designated as a time for intentionally taking steps toward greater spiritual discipline, spiritual simplicity, spiritual renewal and spiritual growth. Here are forty prayers for the forty days of lent.

Day 1 – For self-improvement

Theologian Albrecht Ritschl wrote: “If I long to improve my brother the first step toward doing so is to improve myself.” Prayer: Dear God, help me to focus and fix my flaws rather than judge others.
Scripture: Luke 6:42

Day 2 – To carry my cross

When people consulted with Thomas à Kempis about their troubles, he advised: “Carry the cross patiently and with perfect submission and in the end, it shall carry you.”
Prayer: Dear God, I do not pray for deliverance from burdens but for the strength and patience to bear them. Scripture: Matthew 16:24

Day 3 – To help carry another person's cross

This prayer was frequently uttered by Charles Wesley: “Help us to help each other, Lord, each other's cross to bear.” Prayer: Dear God, let me be like Simon who helped Jesus carry his cross. When I see someone struggle with a burden, may I be the one who helps lift it.

Scripture: Mark 15:21

Day 4 – To cultivate silence

“God is the friend of silence,” says Mother Teresa.

Prayer: Dear God, let me discipline myself to make time for silent meditation. Help me to be still and thereby come to know deeper thoughts.

Scripture: Psalm 46:10

Day 5 – To do the will of God

The Italian monk Gabriel Possenti said of himself: “I will attempt day by day to break my will into little pieces. I want to do God's holy will, not my own.”

Prayer: Dear God, my sincere prayer today is “thy will be done.”

Scripture: Luke 22:42

Day 6 – For deeper joy

“Be merry, really merry. The life of a true Christian should be a perpetual jubilee, a prelude to the festivals of eternity,” advised Theophane Venard.

Prayer: Dear God, let me find joy and happiness daily and even in the most unpromising of circumstances.

Scripture: Psalm 118:24

Day 7 – To be a peacemaker

“Yes, we love peace, but we are not willing to take wounds for it, as we are for war,” notes John Andrew Holmes.

Prayer: Dear God, Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Strengthen my resolve to be a peacemaker and inspire others to do the same.

Scripture: Matthew 5:9

Day 8 – To eat vegetarian

In her book, The Wisdom of the Saints, Jill Haak Adels writes: “Saints seem to be overwhelmingly vegetarian.”

Prayer: Dear God, through this season of Lent, empower me to be like the prophet Daniel who practiced vegetarianism. Scripture: Daniel 1:11 

Day 9 – For a simpler life

“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity,” was the desire of Henry David Thoreau.

Prayer: Dear God, I resolve to clean out my home, giving away what is unused, unneeded and unnecessary so that I may be unfettered from things.

Scripture: Matthew 19:24

Day 10 – To serve others

Irish wisdom says that God likes help when helping people.

Prayer: Dear God, I want to be your partner in serving and helping others. Scripture: Matthew 23:11

Day 11 – To reduce arrogance

“I see my chief obstacle to holiness is pride. I will overcome it,” declared Rev Andrew Beltrami.

Prayer: Dear God, let me clearly see arrogance and pride when they appear in my person.

Scripture: Proverbs 16:18

Day 12 – For a deeper desire for God

St Alphonsus Liguori observed that “he who desires nothing but God is rich and happy.”

Prayer: Dear God, increase within me the very desire to know you more clearly and more deeply.

Scripture: Psalm 119:18

Day 13 – To be kinder

Mary, Queen of Scots, prayed, “O, Lord, let us not forget to be kind.”

Prayer: Dear God, enlarge and expand kindness within me so that I am kinder than is necessary.

Scripture: 2 Kings 25:28

Day 14 – For a humble spirit

Blaise Pascal endorsed humility when he wrote: “Do you wish people to think well of you? Don't speak well of yourself.”

Prayer: Dear God, no matter how many virtues I may have, let me retain a spirit of humility and modesty. 

Scripture: Matthew 6:3 

Day 15 – To stop judging

Mother Teresa wisely observed: “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

Prayer: Dear God, let me put an end to being judgmental.

Scripture: Matthew 7:1

Day 16 – To forgive

Lewis Smedes said: “Gandhi was right: if we all live by 'an eye for an eye' the whole world will be blind. The only way out is forgiveness.”

Prayer: Dear God, help me become a great forgiver so that I am not waiting in ambush for revenge.

Scripture: Acts 7:60

Day 17 – For self-forgiveness

Daphne Rose Kingma offers this advice to people who feel guilt: “Holding on is believing there is only a past; letting go is knowing there is a future.”

Prayer: Dear God, I do not wish to live with the burden of guilt. Help me let go of the past and embrace the future.

Scripture: Isaiah 43:25

Day 18 – To bless an enemy

“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” was the rhetorical question Abraham Lincoln asked.

Prayer: Dear God, rather than retaliate at an enemy, help me find ways to bless and possibly transform an enemy into a friend. Scripture: Romans 12:20

Day 19 – To overcome

Poet Christina Rossetti said: “A fall is not a signal to lie wallowing, but to rise.”

Prayer: Dear God, let me triumph over every tragedy.

Scripture: 1 John 4:4

Day 20 – To help repair the world

“It would be illusory and useless, and even blasphemous, to claim to bear witness to God without engaging in practical activity to repair creation,” writes Jon Sobrino. Prayer: Dear God, fortify me to help repair what is broken, damaged and fractured in my part of the world.

Scripture: Isaiah 58:12

Day 21 – To be an angel

Tobias Palmer asks: “Could you and I – like angels – learn to carry the good message? … Learn to be present when and where there is human need?”

Prayer: Dear God, let me be an angel of mercy ministering to those who are struggling.

Scripture: Hebrews 1:14

Day 22 – For right speech

“Words are loaded pistols,” was the simple observation of Jean Paul Sartre.

Prayer: Dear God, may my words always inspire, not injure; heal, not hurt. Scripture: Proverbs 16:24

Day 23 – For hope

William Shakespeare thanked God because “to believing souls (God) gives light in darkness, comfort in despair.” Prayer: Dear God, may I always hope for the best, believe for the best and work for the best in all circumstances.

Scripture: Zephaniah 3:17

Day 24 – To learn from pain

Oscar Wilde said, “Suffering is a revelation. One discovers things one never discovered before.”

Prayer: Dear God, I don't want my pain to be wasted. Let me learn from it and thereby gain from pain.

Scripture: Genesis 50:20

Day 25 – To believe that God is good

“God is more anxious to bestow his blessings on us than we to receive them,” said St. Augustine.

Prayer: Dear God, open my eyes to see your unconditional love for me.

Scripture: Numbers 14:18

Day 26 – To affirm faith in myself

Here's how the famed Rabbi Nachman of Breslov stated it: “I believe I am very important in God's eyes; I believe that I can return, no matter how far I've strayed.” Prayer: Dear God, help me believe that I have the inner strength to change. Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:17

Day 27 – To count blessings

“We think that people are grateful because they are happy. But is this true?” asks David Steindl-Rast. “Look closely, and you will find that people are happy because they are grateful.”

Prayer: Dear God, let me count my blessings not my burdens.

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Day 28 – To be an encourager

Encouraging is a simple concept according to Thomas Carlyle: “Tell a man he is brave, and you help him to become so.”

Prayer: Dear God, I know that more people give up and give in due to lack of encouragement so let me be an encourager. Scripture: Hebrews 10:24 

Day 29 – To be far more loving

Jonathan Swift made this sad judgment: “We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.”

Prayer: Dear God, help me love everyone and show that all are included in your love. Scripture: 1 Peter 4:8

Day 30 – For patience in suffering

Ignatius of Loyola made this interesting observation which can be a guide during a challenging time: “If God sends you many sufferings, it is a sign that he has great plans for you and certainly wants to make you a saint.”

Prayer: Dear God, let me bear troubles and traumas with both patience and trust in you.

Scripture: Proverbs 3:5

Day 31 – To resist temptation

Erwin Lutzer says that “temptation is not a sin; it is call to battle.”

Prayer: Dear God, grant me the grace to resist the worldly temptations of materialism, commercialism, and greed. Scripture: James 1:14

Day 32 – For perseverance in good works

“No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted,” writes Aesop.

Prayer: Dear God, protect me from discouragement as I serve others in your name.

Scripture: Galatians 6:9

Day 33 – To be a mirror

Edward Hays reminds people “simply be the mirror in which others can see themselves as God sees them.”

Prayer: Dear God, may I reflect back to people their own essential desire to love, to care and to be kind.

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Day 34 – For an open heart

“God sends no one away empty except those who are full of themselves,” said Dwight L. Moody.

Prayer: Dear God, let me have an open, receptive heart.

Scripture: Ephesians 1:18 

Day 35 – To put love into action

St. Augustine was asked, “What does love look like?” His answer: “It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of people. That is what love looks like.”

Prayer: Dear God, let me put love into action moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day.

Scripture: John 13:34

Day 36 – To bring light

An eastern proverb teaches it is better to light a candle rather than curse the darkness.

Prayer: Dear God, allow me to be a beacon of light for all who are discouraged and despairing, weary and worn out so that they will not curse the darkness.

Scripture: Matthew 5:14

Day 37 – For more careful study of the Gospel

Tikhon of Zadonsk, a Russian Bishop said: “If an earthly king – our tsar – wrote you a letter, would you not read it with joy...and careful attention. The King of heaven has sent a letter to you...the Gospel.”

Prayer: Dear God, create in me a desire to set aside time to study and reflect on scripture especially the Gospels.

Scripture: Psalm 119:47

Day 38 – To overlook faults

“Every person should keep a fair-sized cemetery in which to bury the faults of his friends,” said Henry Ward Beecher.

Prayer: Dear God, let me be ignorant about the faults of others.

Scripture: Luke 6:37

Day 39 – For greater inner peace

Dante Alighieri summed this up simply: “In his will is our peace.”

Prayer: Dear God, help me cultivate your peace which surpasses all understanding. Scripture: Philippians 4:7

Day 40 – To continue advancing spiritually

“All growth that is not toward God is growing to decay,” says George MacDonald.

Prayer: Dear God, by observing Lent may I be making great advances in my spiritual life and let those continue throughout the year.

Scripture: Luke 2:52

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