The Three Pillars of Lent: The Power of Prayer

By Divine Word Missionaries on February 5, 2024

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 about only 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 40 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?

Prayer is our communication with God—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is a relationship of both listening and speaking. 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).

During Lent, we are called to pray as a way to connect with God and reflect on Jesus' sacrifice. Prayer helps us become attuned to God's voice, seek forgiveness and grow closer to him. It's a time for self-reflection and renewal, inviting us to align our lives with God's will. Through prayer, we find comfort, hope and strength in knowing that God is with us during our 40-day journey through Lent and beyond.

Many saints also offered their 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

Young woman reciting prayers during Lent

Let our Lenten Reflections serve as your guide in prayer this Lent — sign up  today!

How to incorporate prayer into the Lenten season

Prayer is an essential component of growth in our relationship with the living God. If we have not already been incorporating prayer into our daily lives, Lent is an excellent time to start. We begin by reconciling ourselves to God, as Father Felmar Fiel SVD describes:

"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.

Make prayer a priority this Lent

Leading up to and throughout Lent, keep in mind that above all, this season is a time for deepening your relationship with the Lord. The three pillars of Lent—prayer, fasting and almsgiving—serve as guideposts on this 40-day journey. Prayer, in particular, holds a special place in this season of repentance and renewal.

Whether you are new to praying or seeking a deeper prayer life, Lent offers a perfect invitation to begin wherever you are. Sign up for our Lenten Reflections to help guide you in your pursuit of meaningful prayer this Lenten season. Each week, you will receive thoughtful devotionals written by our missionaries in the field reflecting on that week's Gospel reading. Pray alongside us on our journey to Jerusalem this Lent. 

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