Lent is a season to enjoy deeper communion and friendship with God in prayer. In The Good of Giving Up, I described three ways to pray during Lent: 1) praying in community, notably in worship and in common prayer, 2) praying in honesty, as we learn the Psalmist’s language of grief and lament, and 3) praying in weakness, crying out to Jesus with an acute sense of our need for him. All three pathways of prayer are powerful ways to lean into our union with Christ and become like him.
1. Pray with your eyes and legs. A prayer walk is a simple way to love God and neighbor during Lent. Simply find a 15 minute window of time and walk around your workplace or community. You can pray silently or aloud, asking for God to bless each home, business or institution you see. You can even write specific requests on a notecard and pray each week. Consider inviting a friend along, and welcome any opportunities to chat with your neighbors. If you live in Chicago, consider picking up the Chicago Neighborhood Prayer Guide for specific requests.
But maybe you feel stuck or intimidated by prayer. Sometimes I need a way to “get out of my head” and praying with my body with simple, tangible prayer experiments. I have found that these exercises prime my soul to listen to God and respond to him. If that describes you, here are 5 prayer experiments for you to try with your body during Lent.
2. Pray with your posture. Changing the posture of our body will reorient the way we approach God. You can practice a posture of devotion by kneeling before God in confession or adoration. Find a quiet place where you can read the 10 commandments and confess any ways you’ve broken them. Or perhaps you may want to open Isaiah 40 and adore God’s good, true and beautiful nature, all while on your knees or lying prostrate.
3. Pray with your breathing. Breath prayers are a simple, powerful way to pray the Scriptures. Breath in slowly as you think on or whisper a phrase from Scripture, then hold your breath, and then exhale slowly. If there’s a situation causing you anxiety, try using a breath prayer to devote that situation to the Lord: 1) Breath in as you pray “Father,” reflecting on how much your heavenly Father cares for you. Hold your breath for a moment, and then breath out as you silently pray: “… into your hands I commit ______" (situation causing you anxiety). You can use this prayer in any anxious situation, and it will help you draw near to the Father.
4. Pray with your memory. I encourage you to memorize one Psalm this Lent (or even just one verse from a Psalm). Yes, you can do this! The benefit of memorizing a Psalm is that 1) you can take it with you and pray it anywhere, anytime, 2) you absorb more of the truth and beauty of the Psalm into your soul, and 3) the Psalm becomes associated with God’s work in your life during this season. An easy way to start is to print out Psalm 103 on a sheet of paper and pray it aloud throughout the day. Try it, it’s awesome.
5. Pray with your imagination. Pastor Rankin Wilbourne defines the imagination as "our capacity to see the unseen.” We use our imaginations every day, whether planning dinner or dreaming about our next vacation. This is an area of our life that matters to God. One way that we can use our imaginations to pray is an exercise known as “Lectio Divina.” In essence, we are putting ourselves in the story of the Gospel and allowing it to shape our desires, not just our ideas. Here’s a Lectio Divina guide for praying Luke 10:38-42, the story of Mary & Martha.
In any case, know that Jesus Christ is interceding for you as you pray this Lent.
P.S. did you miss the first newsletter? Here's how I prepared for Lent this year.