Fifth Sunday of Lent
SUNDAY, March 26
Often my sin feels like a snowball rushing downhill, picking up more dirt-stained snow as it moves. I sin, I feel ashamed, I reject God’s grace, and in trying to atone my own sins through my own performance, I sin some more. Then I give up because I am not strong enough and cave altogether.
If that feels all-too-familiar for you, let’s join hands and approach the throne boldly together, friend. Because the truth is, we can cry to God amid our sin and know that he is listening and ready to pick us up. He is attentive. He is merciful. He truly did die and rise again so we could approach his throne.
Lord, I have sinned. I cry to you for mercy. I know you do listen and I know you have already forgiven me, and I already rest in the grace
of your resurrection. AMEN.
PRAYER FOCUS: GOD’S FAITHFULNESS DESPITE OUR FRAILTIES
MONDAY, March 27
Waiting for God can sometimes feel like the absence of God— as if he’s chosen to hold back his love, his listening ear, his compassion. Sometimes as I wait, my heart questions God’s goodness. In waiting, I can so quickly turn to cynicism that God must not be who he says he is.
But this Scripture reminds us that just as the sun continues to possess all the attributes that make it the sun, even at night, just as the sun is promised to rise every morning—so God has never stopped being everything he promises, even while we are waiting. We can faithfully put our hope in God with full assurance that he will respond.
Lord, as I wait, help me to not grow cynical. Please help me to remember that your promises about yourself and about me as your child are true, even when I can’t feel them. Help me to hope with full confidence that you will come, because you are as sure as the sunrise in the morning. AMEN.
TUESDAY, March 28
The bones God led Ezekiel to were dry—very dry. Not only was living flesh not even clinging to them anymore, but the bones themselves were too dry to hold any reasonable sign or hope of life. To associate these bones with anything more than death and decay was ludicrous.
But. Not only did God breathe life into these dead, dry things, he reminded them that his promises to his people were still true. He had never stopped working to bring those promises to fulfillment.
Lord, some things in my life feel more than lifeless, such as aspects of myself or people I love that haven’t been healed, hopes and dreams I thought were from you that have not come to be. Would you give me hope in the areas that seem scariest? Would you give me boldness to declare that not only are you still working to fulfill your promises, but you have done it? AMEN.
PRAYER FOCUS: HOSPITALITY TO STRANGERS
WEDNESDAY, March 29
Can you imagine what the disciples must have been thinking when Jesus intentionally waited two more days (v. 6) to go see Lazarus after hearing that he was sick? Their friend was dying, and Jesus—the only one who could prevent his death—chose not to go. “What could possibly be more important, Jesus, than preventing the death of your friend?!” Jesus answers, “And for your sake I am glad I was not there,
so that you may believe” (v. 15). Does this feel cruel? Is God such an egomaniac that he would sacrifice his own friend just to get some
Perhaps it would be cruel if that were the whole story. But the disciples’ increased faith would come not from Lazarus’s death, but in his life.
Whether on this side of heaven or the other, Christ is glorified by life, the restoration he claimed for us through his death.
Lord, please give me faith that your glory is full of love. Thank you that when you call me your friend like Lazarus you mean it. You will not let death have the final word. AMEN.
THURSDAY, March 30
Jesus stayed in the pain with his friends—with Mary, Martha, the disciples, his people. He knew the outcome of life for Lazarus, yet he wept. Deeply troubled and with tear stains still on his cheeks, he called his friend out of the tomb. My pastor once shared that the words “deeply troubled” when referring to Jesus’s posture as he called Lazarus out originally held a connotation along the lines of “fiercely troubled.”
He was ferocious on behalf of the suffering of Lazarus and his friends.
Jesus is not a friend of death, but he is a friend of us. He weeps with us as we weep and continues to ferociously fight for us to see that he has already defeated death.
Lord, when I grieve or suffer, you do not stand on the sidelines, looking on with pity, mockery, or indifference. You weep ferociously
on my behalf and with me. May I experience the comfort of your presence in my suffering. May you recall again and again the victory over death you have already claimed. AMEN.
PRAYER FOCUS: JUSTICE FOR ALL PEOPLE
FRIDAY, March 31
How easily my mind becomes filled with shallow and quickly fading faux-confidence at best or at worst anxiety and cynicism when “set on the flesh.” Eventually I find myself exhausted, defeated, and insecure as I wonder why I’m not _____ enough to figure it out or be okay on my own. How easily we forget that we were not meant to be enough on our own. Breathe in and out slowly with me, friend, as you remember that truth. Life and peace are ours when we admit to the insufficiency of our flesh and set our mind on the Spirit!
Lord, when I frantically set my mind on the flesh to be my savior, to carry out my plans and earn me the title of “enough,” would you please make me lie down in green pastures, would you help me to pause and breathe. I choose to rest in the fruits of your Spirit.I release my flesh to claim the life and peace that are mine through your death and resurrection. Thank you. AMEN.
SATURDAY, April 1
Whenever I feel shaky as I think about the devastation that seemingly only gets worse in our world, and when I think about the uncertainty of my own life, I can take real rest in this: That we who belong to Christ
will never be cast out. That we are raised up with Christ. That we have eternal life in him. That isn’t sugarcoated, feel-good, pretend-all-your-problems-don’t-exist kind of comfort. It is truth given to us because it is meant to be enough for hope in the midst of all of our problems. These are promises meant to sustain us and the suffering ones while the world continues to crack. Because he who holds our lives and the world together in our hands says so.
Lord, thank you that no matter what has passed, what I am going through or what may come, your life is truly enough for me to cling to hope—not as a last resort, but as the true lifeline in my life and the life of the world. May I cling to you with full confidence that I am raised with you, and would that truth be the lens through which I engage with my own problems and the suffering and injustices of this world. AMEN.
PRAYER FOCUS: LOCAL CHURCH STAFF