Forty Days of Repentance, plus Prayer

It’s time once again for Christians all over the world to join in a time of self-examination, self-denial, and repentance in the forty days leading up to our commemoration and celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even if, like me, you come from a religious heritage that doesn’t pay much attention to Lent, I think you’ll find devoting a month to self-assessment and repentance to be a valuable spiritual exercise.

Lent can be superficial and pointless if we approach it in the wrong frame of mind. It’s purpose is to facilitate a change within us, not check off a ritualistic obligation in order to curry favor with the Almighty. He makes it pretty clear that going through the motions of fasting and prayer isn’t what He’s looking for.

So, I’m always looking for ways to (ooh, look at the shiny airplane!) keep myself on track and focus my attention. Last year, I followed a program of readings from the Church Fathers to expand my horizons a little.

This year, I found a very well-rounded schedule of prayer, scripture readings, reflections, and discussions at the Creighton University website, called Praying Lent. I’m trying to make my personal prayer more focused and disciplined, so this approach had immediate appeal for me. Creighton’s a Catholic school, but these materials focus on universal Christian themes and are a wonderful resource for anyone, Catholic or Protestant, who wants to add more depth to their Lenten devotions.

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