Easter sneaks up on most of us each year, and it feels impossible to summon our most heartfelt worship that Sunday morning. But the forty days leading up to the celebration of Christ’s resurrection are meant to be a time of reflection and raw awareness of our standing with the Lord. With that in mind, here are daily prayers to steer our hearts toward repentant contemplation, and perhaps at the end of the season, anticipate Christ’s victory over sin with joy and thanksgiving.
And so it begins, Lord—this season of bright sadness. Help us pay attention to these days leading up to Easter, to truly look and listen. Today is all about dust and ashes, this mortal frame. It’s a humbling way to get started. Have mercy on us.
Lord, maintaining personal hygiene is one thing. We can do that. Keeping a clean heart is something else altogether. On that front, we desperately need Your help. You know well our enduring capacity for self-deception. Create in us a clean heart. Forgive us as we forgive others, we pray.
Lord, help us live this day with kindheartedness. Many days we’re not so great at that, usually extending compassion only if we think someone has earned it. And even then it’s usually measured. Whatever compassion we would have given today, may we give twice as much. Let it be great, Lord.
We start out with good intentions, Lord. But often it’s not long before our sin confronts us—a little jealousy, a bit of selfishness, some anger at a level more than we care to admit. Have mercy on us, O God. Thank You for Your lovingkindness.
Lord, speaking of Your lovingkindness, we admit we’re not always sure what to do with that. We are forever grateful for it, undoubtedly, but we don’t often feel worthy of such affection. That’s honest. In fact, sometimes it’s almost as if it’s too much. Still, we are grateful.
Let this season not be so much about giving something up as about making room for something, Lord. Help us to make room for trust, at least more than usual. We live too many days in low-grade fear—just enough to keep from risking anything for You. Help us trust You more today.
Our hands are open in surrender, Lord. We don’t want to live this day as closefisted misers when You’ve been so good to us. May we gladly give unto others as has been given to us. We’ve no idea what that’s going to look like today. But we surrender.
Lord, there are some attitudes and practices that served us well as children. But we’re older now, and they are not fitting for the days ahead. Give us the courage to put away those childish things. Some of them we’ve lived with a long time. We need Your help.
We can be in the best mood, Lord, and then the smallest thing comes along and completely derails us, throwing us into the bluest mood. Sometimes we can shake it, and other times it shades our entire day. May we not be tossed so easily. Make us steady.
Lord, give us ears not just to hear but also to listen. To pay attention to what others are saying and doing or not saying and not doing. Teach us to listen between the lines for the messages between the words, so others feel they’ve been seen and heard.
We confess our sins, Lord, those thoughts, words, and deeds we’ve done. Then there are those we’ve left undone, too. No, we’ve not loved our neighbors as ourselves. And no, we’ve not forgiven others as we’ve been forgiven. We’ve grieved You, Lord. We confess that. And we’re sorry.
Open our lips, Lord, that our mouths might proclaim Your praise. Maybe that’s a song sung with abandon. Maybe that’s a kind word spoken to a child or a stranger who crosses our path. Maybe it’s a little of both today. Whether we’re singing or speaking, give us courage.
Your Word is clear—You’re not interested in burnt offerings. Your preferred sacrifice is a contrite heart, one broken open to repentance and remorse, so we will live, not in shame but in the freedom of Your everlasting goodness. That distinction makes all the difference, Lord.
Joy. That word sounds strange during these days of repentance. But it was present in Your life, the joy set before You. It compelled You to endure. Give us a vision of Your joy that can carry us not just through but into the fullness of this season of preparation.
Anywhere we can go today, Lord, You are already there. Help us to remember that, whether literally or figuratively, when we feel alone or abandoned. The issue is not Your presence but our awareness of You. Open our senses to who You are—Immanuel, God with us.
Lord, we pray for all who will stand in pulpits tomorrow and preach to what the church has always been—sinners gathered in need of Your mercy. Give these pastors the clarity to speak grace and truth, to remind us of who You are and who we are in You.
Help us to be still, Lord, and know that You are God. Being still sounds good, but it’s not long before we’re antsy, needing to make something happen. We say we trust You fully, but we like to hedge our bets. Forgive us, and help us to be still.
Lord, that You were tempted in all ways like us yet did not sin—amazing. We usually give in to temptation at 50 or 60 percent, but You endured the full 100 percent and resisted. So when we say, “Jesus knows,” You really do, don’t You? Thank You for being our advocate.
Three weeks into this season, Lord. Ash Wednesday’s smudges are gone, the initial energy is waning a little. There’s the temptation to bail, to stop overthinking everything and just go along with the days. But that’s precisely the time to re-up, isn’t it? Help us keep at it.
Thank You, Jesus, for the great cloud of witnesses. There are so many of them who have faithfully encouraged us in the non-flashy, unsung ways that never make headlines or earn recognition. Their unwavering constancy is not a slight thing in our faith stories. Thank You for them.
This has been a long week, Lord. We’re tired. Weary is the better word. You told us to come to You if that’s the case. So here we are. The word rest holds so much hope, though what it means will no doubt look different for each of us. Renew us.
We confess to You, Lord, our envy of others—their possessions, their careers, their bodies, their influence, and the list goes on. We know that envy steals so much joy from our life, yet it still creeps in. May we not be resigned but content with the life You’ve given us.
Accept our repentance, Lord, for our unbridled anger. It does feels good in the moment, and often is justified, but it does not achieve Your righteousness. And that’s what we want. Give us wisdom to rein in wrath and channel it in ways that are pleasing to You.
Father, this is Your world, and for the time being, it is our home. Forgive us for our careless approach to Your creation. We focus so much on ourselves that we dismiss the birds of the air and the lilies in the field. Make us better stewards, we pray.
In Your great mercy, forgive us for our indifference to the suffering of those in our families and neighborhoods and towns and cities—and world. Remind us, Lord, that we are not powerless. We can act, even if in small ways, toward Your kingdom coming on earth.
Lord, we pray today for all victims of sexual violence—women, men, and children preyed upon by those who have used their power to steal and silence. Where and when we can, help us to be a voice for the voiceless, and at all times a friend.
This day feels and looks like a hundred other days, Lord. But it’s not. This day has never been before, and Your mercies are new and brimming over. While not forgetting yesterday and still hoping for tomorrow, we ask Your help to live today, right now, in all of its glory.
Lord, You entered into a body just like ours. A body that aged, ached, and adapted to challenges and growth from birth to Your 30s. A body that experienced everything from headaches to heartaches. You know our every weakness, what it feels like to be us. That means something.
This time next week, Lord, everything will take on a focus. Holy Week, the days before the day. But we’re not there yet. It’s tempting to want to rush ahead, but without the slightly unfocused, the focused doesn’t mean anything. Give us the grace to wait and watch.
“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life.” Paul’s words sound so foreign, Lord. Yet so attractive—to think that in all of the noise and chatter and point and counterpoint, we, Your children, might live with a sense of quietness. That would indicate great faith, wouldn’t it.
Lord, we pray today for our elected officials. In the midst of a system that most days seems so broken, there are good women and men working humbly for justice and mercy. Many of them are beyond exhausted. Please renew their strength and restore their courage. In Jesus’ name.
You wept, Lord. That concise verse tells us everything about the depths of compassion You carried. Were Your tears just for Lazarus? Surely they were for Martha and Mary too. Were they also for a sorrow that only the Son of God could comprehend? May we weep like You.
Thank You for the strength to stay engaged, to endure this Lenten season, Lord. There have been bright days of encouragement and startling surprise. But there have also been days of lengthening shadows and cold anxiety. Your constant presence throughout has been sustaining. Lent is a long time.
The story narrows tomorrow. We will tell again of how the people threw a palm parade, and of how You rode down the middle of it all, Your face set like flint. That feels so far away, and yet, in a sense, it was only yesterday. Here we go again, Lord.
It’s Holy Monday, Lord. In an act that often makes us wince, You drove out those who defamed Your Father’s house. You said no buying and selling. Forgive us for allowing elements into our churches that blind us to this truth. May we gather together in houses of prayer.
The foolish virgins had their lamps but no oil. The wise ones carried both. But when the midnight cry rang out, only the wise were admitted to the banquet. Help us to be wise, Lord, both ready and awake, prepared for what You have in store for us.
On this Wednesday we remember that You were betrayed, Lord—not by an enemy, but by one of Your own disciples. Though our smaller betrayals may pale in comparison to his, they are also grievous. Forgive us, we ask, when we choose worldly gain or ease over fidelity to You.
Lord, the new commandment You gave Your disciples is still in play today—that we are to love one another as You have loved us. Those observing will recognize our love for one another as the enduring sign that we are Yours. Wash over us with this truth, we pray. We plead.
We were not there the day they crucified You, Lord. Then again, we were. We know how this story unfolds, that Sunday’s coming. But help us to pause and allow the weight of this day to burden our consciences. We were not there, but we are here today—Good Friday.
Lord, in the midst of all those things we must do this day, may we not distract ourselves from the uneasiness that comes from being poised between Friday and Sunday. In the waiting, help us to ready our hearts for the dawn. For joy indeed comes in the morning.