The liturgical season of Lent can often become crowded and confused as we wrestle with what to give up and how to stay on track, but when we get down to the heart of it, Lent is only about one thing—growing deeper in our relationship with the Lord.
What are the three pillars of Lent?
To help keep us on track, the church offers us three pillars to focus our efforts during the forty days of Lent: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. While the practice of fasting during Lent is widely known and observed, many are not aware of how to properly answer the church's prompt to incorporate prayer during this season. God calls us to begin or strengthen our daily prayer regimen so that we may come to know him on a personal level. If we are truly going to grow in a relationship with Jesus Christ, increasing our time in prayer is exactly where we need to start.
What is prayer?
Simply put, prayer is our communication with God—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is a relationship of both listening and speaking. With regard to prayer, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, "This mystery [of faith], then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer" (CCC 2558).
Many saints also offered their own personal reflections on what prayer is and how it unites us to God:
"Prayer is a surge of the heart, it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy." — St. Therese of Lisieux
"Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God." — St. John of Damascus
"Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God's thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him." — St. Augustine
How to pray during LentPrayer is an essential component of growth in our relationship with the Living God. If we have not already been incorporating prayer into our daily life, Lent is an excellent time to start. We begin by reconciling ourselves to God, as Father Felmar Fiel SVD describes in his Lenten reflection:
"Like today’s Gospel, this season reminds us that God wants us to be reconciled to him and to one another. He wants us to shed anger, bitterness and resentments that could decay our souls. If we truly desire God’s love and mercy, we must learn to humble ourselves and seek not only divine forgiveness but to establish life-giving relationships around us."
Reconciliation comes through the sacrament of confession. As we set our relationship right with God, we can simultaneously add a manageable habit of prayer into our daily routine. Some examples could include:
- A daily decade of the Rosary
- A daily examination of conscience
- Reading and reflecting on the daily Mass readings
- Spending five minutes in silence every day, asking the Lord to speak to us
If prayer is already a consistent habit in our daily lives, we can try adding something of greater intensity for the season of Lent such as attending daily Mass, praying a whole rosary or chaplet every day or spending an extended period of time in silent contemplation.
Pray with Our Missionaries this Lent
No matter what habits of prayer you incorporate this Lent, the most important things are to try to add something and to do our best to be consistent with our Lenten prayer. Another great way to pray more this Lent is to join our community of missionaries in scriptural reflection every week. You can sign up to receive a weekly reflection in your inbox—true spiritual food for your Lenten journey!
We are praying for you. Have a blessed Lent!