Lent 2022: Let Us Pray
Week 5: April 6, 2022, 6pm
L: The love of God poured into our hearts, the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and the abundant life of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
C: And also with you.
L: Let us pray. O God, rich in mercy, full of kindness: out of your great love, you raise us up from sin and death and make us alive together with Christ. Be present with us in prayer and praise. Write your word upon our hearts and restore in us the image of your love that, by your Spirit, the way of Christ may become our way of life. In Christ’s name we pray.
A Lenten Litany
L: We come to you, gracious God, for healing, reconciliation, peace, purpose, and guidance.
C: We come carrying the weariness of these past years. It feels like so much has changed. And yet, it feels like nothing has changed.
L: We come to you Saving One, for presence, hope, pardon, and assurance.
C: We come, feeling at times like we are lost in the wilderness, uncertain of who we are now or where we are going.
L: We come to you Author of all Life, for life, love, and salvation.
C: We come, burning with a million questions and no easy answers. We know things are not the way they were, yet we see the path forward only a step or two at a time, if at all.
L: People of God, no matter where you are – or how you come this evening – our loving God is with you and with me. God sees you, knows you, loves you, welcomes you, and is with you. Always.
C: God is with us now and always.
L: God, we give you thanks for being with us. Now in this time together, open us up to wonder, to discern your will, to receive your life-changing and life-giving love.
C: Fill us, guide us, and lead us. Open us to big questions without easy answers; guide us into the future you are breathing into being; help us to wonder, to wrestle, to imagine, and to follow you. Amen.
Questions for reflection as you hear the reading:
- What words or phrases do you feel drawn to in this text?
- How do you see God moving in this text?
- What invitations do you hear in this text to pray?
Reading: Luke 23:26-56
26 As they led [Jesus] away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus 27 A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. 28 But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
32 Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing. 35 And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
39 One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last. 47 When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent.” 48 And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts. 49 But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
50 Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, 51 had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. 54 It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. 55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 56 Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments.On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.
Prayer practice: Praying with God – Here I Am / Prayer of the Heart
(Adapted from prayers in 50 Ways to Pray by Teresa A. Blythe)
The process of this contemplative prayer practice is described below, but if you are watching the video, I encourage you to close your eyes and listen to the instructions.
Sit comfortably and say to yourself, “Here I am, seated, doing nothing. I will do nothing for the next several minutes.”
Begin noticing your own bodily presence – how your body feels sitting on the chair; how your feet feel against the floor. Let your body relax. Notice what you feel inside. Notice the rise and fall of your breath, in and out.
Now notice the presence of all that is around you. Say to yourself, “Here I am in the presence of this room.” Be aware of the furniture and the walls and the other people in the room. Be aware of the sounds and smells you experience. Just be present and silent in your environment. Relax even more.
Now say to yourself, “Here I am in the presence of God.” Repeat silently to God, “Here I am.” Let yourself simply bask in the presence of the Holy One.
(You may choose to simply stay in this space for a time, basking in the presence of God, and end your prayer time here)
Gradually let your mind grow quiet. Inhale the peace of God’s presence, and with every exhale, let the worries and tension of this day flow out.
Look within yourself and ask: What is your deepest, truest longing for life with God at this moment? If you find that your longing feels too “worldly” or superficial or silly, try suspending your judgment and looking instead at what is at the base of that desire. When you check in with your deepest and truest self, what is it that you seek from God?
Give that longing a short phrase. For example, if your deep desire is inner freedom, then your phase might be “freedom” or “inner freedom.” Make sure your phrase is not too long.
What is your favorite name for God? How do you imagine the Creator? Choose whatever name seems to fit best for you. Some examples include: Jesus, Wisdom, Father, Mother, Mystery, Savior, Almighty, and so on. Be as creative as you want to be. Just keep the name relatively short.
Now combine your name for God with your longing. For example, if my phrase is “freedom” and the name I choose for God is Christ, my prayer of the heart might be “Freedom, in Christ.” Early Christians used to pray, “Come, Lord Jesus,” in this fashion – this was their deep longing, for Jesus to physically return and be among them.
Begin to say your phrase, either quietly or silently. You may inhale on the name for God and exhale on the desire or vice versa. Keep breathing your prayer. Make it your own. Allow God to inhabit your prayer.
After you’ve repeated this prayer for several minutes, sink into contemplative silence. Allow the love of God to fill you and surround you. Rest in the loving presence of the great “I Am.”
(You may consider writing down your phrase and praying it throughout the day)
Communal prayer: We pray for one another & for the world
L: Let us pray. In Christ Jesus we meet the God who knows our weakness and bears the wounds of the world. Therefore, let us be bold as we pray, trusting that God draws near to those in any kind of need.
All are invited to add their own prayer petitions here. (You are welcome to add your own prayers in comments on this post or on the video)
Please end your petition with:
L: God, in your mercy,
C: Receive our prayer.
L: God of all compassion, gather our prayers in your mercy and grant to us what you know we need, that we may walk in the life and peace of your Spirit, through Jesus Christ, our hope and our salvation
L: Gathered into one by the Holy Spirit, let us pray as Jesus taught us.
C: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
L: Go in peace. Christ is with you.
C: Thanks be to God.
Thanks so much for spending time with us this evening! We invite you to join us — online or in person — at our upcoming services for Holy Week and Easter:
- Palm Sunday — April 10, 9:30am
- Maundy Thursday — April 14, 6:30pm
- Good Friday — April 15, 6:30pm
- Easter Vigil — April 16, 6:30pm, with reception following
- Easter Sunday — April 17, 9:30am