Awake My Soul: A 40-Day Prayer Challenge

Awake My Soul: A 40-Day Prayer Challenge

Awake My Soul: A 40-Day Prayer Challenge

On March 6 we begin the season of Lent. Lent is a season in the life of the church that marks the 40 days that lead up to Easter. Historically, Lent has been a time when many people return to the various practices of the Christian faith. We do this not as an obligation or as a means of earning God’s love. Instead, these practices are ways to focus on God, experience freedom from unhealthy attachments, and journey with Jesus to the cross.

This year we want to invite you to consider taking a 40-day prayer challenge. The challenge is to spend about twenty to thirty minutes in prayer and scripture meditation five days a week. The goal is not simply to read through a passage and check off the list that you’ve done it but to meditate and pray with the text. The steps of prayer are outlined below. Hard copies of the devotional will be made available on Ash Wednesday and Sunday, March 10.  You can also access the daily readings and prayers below or download the prayer guide here: Awake My Soul Prayer Challenge If you’d like to print it out as a booklet you can use this format and print double-sided flip on short side: Awake My Soul Prayer Challenge Booklet. 

Along with these daily prayer practices, you are invited to join others who are taking this challenge on Wednesday evenings following Simple Supper. The Wednesday evening space provides a time of teaching, group reflection and sharing. This group will meet in the Fellowship Hall following Simple Supper at around 6:15-7:15 pm.

The themes for the daily readings correspond with our sermon series, which is based on the Psalms. Each week focuses on a different aspect of the nature of God. May you be blessed and may your soul be awakened to the presence and goodness of God this season!

The Format for Daily Prayer

There is a suggested scripture passage assigned for each day. The goal is not simply to read the text for information but to slowly meditate on the text and explore what God is saying to you personally. Here is the suggested format for prayer. Allow about 20-30 minutes for this process.

1. Centering

a. Spend a couple minutes in silence contemplating God’s presence.
b. Ask for the grace of the week.

2. Meditating

a. Read the text slowly and notice what captures you. Hold silence for a while
b. Re-read the text and reflect on what God is saying to you personally.
c. If something captures you pause, savor, and reflect.
d. If the text is a narrative you might consider imagining the scene. Notice where you are and how you would respond if you were there.

3. Praying

a. Enter into a conversation with God about what the text is saying to you.

4. Journaling

a. After the prayer time is over review your experience. Note key insights, struggles, feelings, or follow-up actions that were stirred in you.

There is flexibility in these exercises. If you feel like it would be helpful to stay with a text for more than one day, do not feel rushed to move on. The goal is God, not the prayer guide.

 

Week One: God is our Loving Creator

One of the foundations of the spiritual life is that God lovingly created us with purpose and intention. This week we take time to marvel at God’s love expressed in his creative power. We seek to cultivate a spirit of gratitude for the gift of life and the gift of God’s creation.

The Grace We Seek:
“God grant me wonder and gratitude for how you created me and the world.”

Day 1: Psalm 19

Day 2: Psalm 8

Day 3: Genesis 1:24-2:3 God declares that his creation is “very good.” Consider where you see the goodness of God in the world.

Day 4: Jeremiah 18:1-6 Clay is forgiving and moldable. In what ways might our creator God want to rebuild, shape, or form your life?

Day 5: Psalm 104 If possible spend an hour out in nature and simply savor God’s creation after meditating on the Psalm. If it is helpful, zero in on a particular image in creation – a tree, a cloud, a flower, and contemplate its beauty.

 

Week Two: God Provides for us in Hardship

Life is often difficult and we sometimes find ourselves walking through dark valleys. This week we consider the ways God is present with us in challenges and redeems the hard things of life.

The Grace We Seek:
“God grant me a deep confidence and trust in your goodness and love for me.”

Day 1: Psalm 23. Consider focusing on an image that is particularly powerful for you in this Psalm.

Day 2: Repeat Psalm 23. While meditating on Psalm 23 consider reflecting on the ways God has been with you and provided for you in the midst of some of the challenges you’ve faced in your life.

Day 3: Romans 8:26-39

Day 4: Luke 15:1-7

Day 5: Matthew 6:25-34. Spend some time bringing your worries and anxieties to God in prayer.

 

Week Three: God is Our Bounteous Provider

The Psalmist says we “enter His gates with thanksgiving in our hearts.” This image suggests that one of the ways we enter into God’s presence is through gratitude. Gratitude is a gateway to awareness of God in our midst. This week we seek to cultivate a deeper awareness of God in our life and focus on the spiritual practice of gratitude.

The Grace We Seek:
“God grant me an awareness of your provision in my life.”

Day 1: Psalm 100. After meditating on this Psalm, consider writing out 20 things for which you are grateful.

Day 2: Psalm 65:1-8. This first part of the psalm focuses on the attributes of God. Consider meditating on these attributes and praising God for who he is.

Day 3: Psalm 65:9-13. Praise God for the material provisions with which he has provided you.

Day 4: Ephesians 1:3-22. Consider the many spiritual blessings God has provided for you.

Day 5. Repeat a scripture passage that was particularly meaningful to you so far in this prayer challenge.

 

Week Four: God Offers Us Forgiveness and Grace.

Throughout Scripture, we encounter a God who is full of mercy and grace. This week we meditate on the depth of God’s mercy for us.

The Grace We Seek:
“God, Give me a deep gratitude for your eagerness to forgive and set me free.”

Day 1: Psalm 103:1-12

Day 2: Psalm 103:13-22

Day 3: Luke 15:11-32 Consider who you are in the story. How do you respond to the image of the father?

Day 4: Spend time meditating on the image of the sculpture that depicts the story of the prodigal son. Start by simply looking at the image for a few minutes. Then reflect: What do you notice? What emotions are surfacing? What do you want to say to God in response?

This sculpture is titled “Reconciliation” and is installed at Duke Divinity School

Day 5: John 3:16-18. Insert your name into this passage as if God is speaking these words directly to you.

 

Week Five: God Wants to Set Us Free

Having established the foundation that God loves us and cares for us, we now explore some of the sins in our life from which God wants to set us free. This week we spend some time in confession. We keep in mind, though, that the conviction of the Holy Spirit is not condemning but liberating (Romans 8:1). God wants to set us free.

The Grace We Seek:
“ God give me to grace to grow in interior freedom and to become more aware of the sins that get in the way of loving you, others, or myself.”

Day 1: Psalm 139:23-24 What are some of the things that God wants to set you free from so that you can follow him?

Day 2: Ezekiel 33:11 Jesus convicts of us sin, not because he wants to shame us but because he wants us to turn and live. Consider – Why do I sin? Enter into a conversation with God about this. In what ways is God inviting you to turn and live?

Day 3: Phil 3:7-11 How does Jesus surpass the other things with which you tend to fill your life?

Day 4: Psalm 51 After meditating on this text spend some time confessing your sins to God and receiving his forgiveness and grace.

Day 5: Hebrews 12:1 Repentance isn’t simply about confessing our sin, but moving in a new direction. What pathway has God marked out for you? Having thrown off that which hinders, where is God calling you to turn?

 

Week Six: Jesus Died for Us

Having spent time exploring the dynamic of sin in our lives and seeking God’s liberating grace, we now turn to a time of gratitude for God’s mercy and love. This week we savor the forgiveness and love of Jesus that culminates in his sacrificial death on the cross.

The Grace We Seek:
“God, Give me an awareness of the depth of your love for me.”

Day 1: Mark 14:32-42

Day 2: Psalm 22. This is one of the Psalms that Jesus references while hanging on the cross. Contemplate what he experienced on the cross and what he accomplished on the cross.

Day 3: Luke 23:26-34. Imagine you are at the scene of the crucifixion and contemplate your reaction to Jesus’ words of forgiveness.

Day 4: John 19:28-30 Contemplate Jesus’ statement of triumph “It is finished.” In Greek this word also translates “it is completed.” What does Jesus want to bring to completion, or accomplish in your life through his death on the cross?

Day 5: Romans 5:1-8

 

Week Seven: Praise God for New Life

This week we celebrate. We give praise to God, reflect on the hope of the resurrection, and consider the new things that God wants to do in our life.

The Grace We Seek:
“God, grant me hope in your resurrection power”

Day 1: John 20:11-18 Reflect on Jesus’ question: “Why are you crying?” What has caused you sadness lately? Enter into a conversation with God about it? What does Jesus say in response to your grief?

Day 2: John 20:19-22 What fears prevent you from following God? Where does God want to speak peace into your life? Where is he sending you?

Day 3: Ephesians 3:14-21

Day 4: Psalm 146

Day 5: Psalm 150 End your journey of prayer with a time of praise and thanksgiving.

 

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