Week 1: Crossing the Threshold into Lent

Scripture for First Sunday in Lent: Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16; Romans 10:8b-13; Luke 4:1-13

The season of Lent derives its structure and its themes from Christ’s forty days in the wilderness, where he fasted, prayed and faced Satan’s temptations.  This was not punishment; in fact he had just experienced God’s public affirmation of his true identity as “my Son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”  Indeed, he was driven into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit as preparation for the ministry that was ahead of him.  There he faced the most profound temptations of the human experience—the temptation to trust in that which is not God for security and survival, affirmation and approval, power and control.

As we enter into our own wilderness time, having committed ourselves to practices which will help us return to God with all our hearts, we will face our own temptations to “give up” and “give in” to that which is not God.  As we begin, let us pray together:

LORD our God
you alone do we worship,   
only your word gives life.
Sustain your Church on its Lenten journey.
When we walk through the desert of temptation,
strengthen us to renounce the power of evil.
When our faith is tested by doubt,
illumine our hearts
with Easter’s bright promise.
We ask this through Christ, our deliverance and our hope,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
holy and mighty God forever and ever.

©Ruth Haley Barton, 2013.  Not to be used without permission. Prayer adapted from Opening Prayer: Collects in Contemporary Language (Norwich, Norfolk: Canterbury Press, 1997), p. 21.

Ruth is founder of the Transforming Center, and author of Pursuing God’s Will Together, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, Sacred Rhythms, and Invitation to Solitude and Silence (InterVarsity Press).

Lent Calendar (Cycle C) and guidance for using the lectionary

Read the post Lent: A Season of Returning by clicking here.

Share your Lenten journey with us.

Leave a comment below, follow us on Twitter (@transformingcnt), or Facebook.

Want to receive these prayers in your inbox? Sign up for our free eReflections.

Ruth Haley Barton

Ruth (Doctor of Divinity, Northern Seminary) is founder and chief essence officer of the Transforming Center. A teacher, seasoned spiritual director (Shalem Institute), and retreat leader, Ruth is the author of numerous books and resources on the spiritual life including Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, Sacred Rhythms, Life Together in Christ, Pursuing God’s Will Together, Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Invitation to Retreat, and Embracing Rhythms of Work and Rest.
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Today I begin my Lenten journey by participating in an Ash Wednesday Service at a different church from our own, which I find extremely meaningful especially since it is not a tradition in our denomination. I always find the readings from the Transforming Centre so helpful in my walk. In Christ’s abiding love I thank you for your ministry. Barbara

You’re welcome!

Today I begin again, in this Lenten season, the practice of reading through the Gospels. By reading two chapters each day, I will reach the end of John on Easter week-end. This attention to the Gospels each year has been a powerful one for me.

Yes, this is truly a season to walk with Christ through the witness of the Gospels.

Join thousands of pastors and spiritual leaders

Receive Beyond Words®, reflections on the soul of leadership. Written by Ruth Haley Barton, each reflection provides spiritual guidance and encouragement for those seeking to be in God for the world.