Prayer for the First Sunday in Lent

It's Lent - try the perch

Lord, at the beginning of Lent, I confess to you that I’ve never really liked this season. I’ve never really liked the fasting, the giving up of stuff I like, the somber feeling I get when I come to worship, or actually anything about it, except maybe for the color purple. I’ve got some great Lenten stoles.

Rather than just admitting that I like to eat and that I hate to give up stuff I like, I’ve pretended over the years to be a little put off by the season. In my preaching I’ve reminded people that Jesus wanted people to do their praying and so forth in private, not showing off about their piety and Lenten observance, but then you heard that, didn’t you?

I never know if you listen to my sermons or not. You do, don’t you?

And I’ve been very enthusiastic – as you know, Lord – about encouraging people to “take something on” instead of “giving something up.” I’m pretty sure you saw through that little ploy, but my people loved it and asked for more. What was I to do?

So, here I am, Lord, before heading off to church on the First Sunday in Lent, feeling just the tiniest bit unsettled. I haven’t given anything up, and I don’t think I can really take on anything more.

I’ve mentioned how busy I am, haven’t I? It’s really tough right about now, with so many meetings to go to. I don’t have time for some silly spiritual discipline. (Sorry, but a few of them do seem silly to me. Giving up chocolate? Really?) My plan is to do what I do every year. I’ll go through the motions, trusting that you’ll overlook my half-hearted attempts to observe this season.

I will do one other thing, though, Lord. I promise to think long and hard about this season and what it means and why we bother to observe it at all, because on Easter morning I so look forward to the big, happy crowds, and the joyful singing, and the brass instruments, and the smell of lilies. I just want to get through all of this unpleasantness as quickly as possible. You can understand that, can’t you?

Lord? Are you still there?

Your humble (and very busy) servant,


(Art credit: so far as I know, no one is complaining about the commercialization of the Lenten season, but here’s an ad that might be irritating, if it weren’t so funny. It’s Lent, so go out to eat? At Butch’s? And try the perch? I don’t know what to say.)

About Doug

I have been a writer ever since fifth grade when I won second prize in a “prose and poetry” contest. I am also a Presbyterian pastor, and for several years toward the end of my career I lived and worked in Zürich, Switzerland. I am now retired and live just north of Holland, Michigan, along the lake.

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7 Responses to Prayer for the First Sunday in Lent

  1. Bob Sadowski March 9, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

    I am giving up-giving up stuff.

  2. Earl March 9, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    I agree with Bob

  3. Doug March 9, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

    Uh-oh, I’m not sure that was the result I was going for! Good to hear from both of you.

  4. Rick March 9, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

    Wow, Doug, you nailed it on that one. Maybe I’ll give up reading your blog for Lent….too convicting. Have a meaningful season brother!

    • Doug March 9, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

      Rick, I’m so glad you’re my friend…what, since sixth grade? Bless you, brother.

  5. Georgia Hamilton March 9, 2014 at 8:28 pm #


    I’ve been feeling so guilty because before the beginning of lent I thought I’d try to give up my one drink a day. But then I rationalized that I would be on vacation for a couple of weeks at the beginning of Lent and it would be with people who simply wouldn’t understand! So I didn’t! You give me hope that pondering on the season might be acceptable if it’s done in true humility and honest adherence to thoughtful study and confession.

    • Doug March 10, 2014 at 2:13 am #

      Hi, Georgia. I have no idea what to say anymore about these small acts of spiritual discipline, but am glad you are mindful about your spiritual life. Also, it’s good to hear from you. I hope it’s warm and pleasant wherever you are!

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