As the seasons change, trees adapt in order to flourish all year long, and though it may not appear so in winter, trees are actually growing mightily in the cold months. This is achieved by stripping away their leaves and redirecting their energy from producing leaves, flowers, and fruit, to strengthening their main support system; their roots. They are doing hidden work to produce visible beauty, which is to be revealed at a later time. When the harsh season is over, trees have done the hard work of deepening their roots so that they may flourish even more in the next season of favorable weather.
Lent is similar to those winter months in the life of the Church, a time for hidden work to promote more visible growth later on. It is a time for us to strip away distraction and deepen our roots by intentionally turning our heart, soul, mind, and strength to the Lord in spiritual disciplines. Lent is a historical season of the church focused on prayer and fasting, like the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert as he prepared for his years of ministry (Matthew 4:1-11). During Lent we are joining in with the historical church, who would take this time to put off the old way of living and usher in our new life in Christ, centered upon the resurrection. Lent is a great time to "repent" -- to return to God and re-focus our lives to be more in line with Jesus. It's a 40 day investment in changing your lifestyle to allow God to change your heart. Fasting and prayer are the most common spiritual disciplines to engage in during Lent.
Some people have been known to go without food for days. But that's not the only way to fast. You can fast by cutting out some of the things in your life that distract you from God. Some Christians use the whole 40 days to fast from candy, tv, soft drinks, cigarettes or meat as a way to purify their bodies and lives. You might skip one meal a day and use that time to pray instead. Or you can give up some activity like worry or reality tv to spend time outside enjoying God's creation. What do you need to let go of or "fast" from in order to focus on God? What clutters your calendar and life? How can you simplify your life in terms of what you eat, wear or do?
Christians also use Lent as a time of intentional prayer. You can pray while you walk, create music or art as a prayer to God, or savor a time of quiet listening. All can be ways of becoming more in tune with God.
We have created a prayer guide to direct Bridge through Lent (see below) and we encourage you to use this individually or in your Bridge group through the Lenten season. We encourage Bridge groups to pray and fast together during this time, seeking the Lord for renewal in your heart, our church, and the city.
Lent Prayer Guide
March 1-7: Bridge Church
“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.”
- Thank God for the ways that He has used Bridge to influence City Heights and San Diego/Tijuana for his kingdom. Pray that he would increase our influence for his name’s sake!
- Pray for Bridge Kids and Youth Development, that God would be leading our younger generations in lives committed to him, and would keep them in lifelong discipleship of Christ.
- Ask God to strengthen and empower all of our Ministry Teams and Ministry Team Leaders, so that we may do the work of the ministry together at Bridge.
- Pray for our Bridge Groups and their leaders. Ask God to fill every person involved with his Spirit, strengthening our community and aligning our lives more completely with him.
- Pray for our Elders, Elder Advisory Team, Mercy and Justice Team, and Staff. Pray for wisdom and humility as they lead Bridge in the work of renewal to which God has called us.
March 8-14: Work Redeeming
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
- Thank God for the ways he has worked in our places of work this year, from classrooms to Navy ships, hospitals to restaurants. God is doing great work!
- Pray that the Holy Spirit will powerfully move through our places of work and bring repentance and salvation to the people there.
- Pray for those in our community who are looking for work right now. Pray that God would bring them quickly to the place where he desires their abilities to be used and their gospel-witness to be heard.
- Pray for our brothers and sisters at work to be strengthened and equipped by the Spirit and remain steadfast in God’s love and word.
March 15-21: Social Renewal in City Heights
“Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
- Pray that our church family will be more aware of and compassionate for the “least of these” around us. Pray that we will love them by providing for needs they may have.
- Pray for the outreach in City Heights, providing clothing and prayer and mercy.
- Pray for those who work with refugees through Refugee Tutoring and orphans through New Chapters .
March 22-28: Spiritual Renewal
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”
- Thank Jesus that He is our portion and our sustenance. Praise Him for this beautiful promise to never thirst or hunger again if we come to Him.
- Pray that each day we would hunger and thirst for Jesus and sit at His feet in solitude and worship.
- Pray that we as the body would spur one another on toward love and good deeds and not give up meeting together in discipleship or community groups.
- Pray for God to unify and strengthen relationships within community groups and that we would so deeply love each other that the world would notice and be drawn in.
March 29-April 4: Cultural Renewal
“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
- Ask God to bring peace and prosperity to San Diego for the glory of His name.
- Pray for the cultures of violence and oppression to lose their grip on our city and for cultures of joy and shalom, general well being, to reign in the world around us.
- Pray that as our church body goes into the city, schools, and our workplaces, the light of Christ would brightly shine through us, and we would do our work excellently and wholeheartedly for the Lord.
April 5-11: Palm Sunday
“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
- Praise Jesus for leaving His heavenly throne and glory to come to this earth to pursue and save us!
- Pray that as we invite our neighbors to Easter at Bridge, the Holy Spirit will go before us to prepare the hearts and minds of those we will meet and serve.
- Pray the people we encounter will be drawn to Jesus because of His love within us, and they will want to come to Easter at Bridge.
April 12-16: Easter, Feaster & Loving our Neighbors
“Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence. This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.'”
- Pray that our church family would be filled with God’s love for others and that we would see people exactly as God sees them.
- Pray for the neighbors and friends you want to invite to Easter Feast and that the Holy Spirit would be working in their hearts and drawing them to this event.
- Pray for college campuses, where the Holy Spirit is already powerfully at work, that God would draw many students into a passionate relationship with Himself.
- Pray for a huge outpouring of God’s Spirit upon Feaster and that many neighbors and friends would hear the good news preached, repent, and believe.
This fast calls for drinking only liquids, typically water with light juices as an option.
This type of fast involves removing certain elements from your diet. One example of a selective fast is the Daniel Fast, during which you remove meat, sweets, or bread from your diet and consume water and juice for fluids and fruits and vegetables for food.
This fast is sometimes called the Jewish Fast and involves abstaining from eating any type of food in the morning and afternoon. This can either correlate to specific times of the day, such as 6:00 am to 3:00 pm, or from sunup to sundown.
This fast is common for those who do not have much experience fasting food, who have health issues that prevent them from fasting food, or who wish to refocus certain areas of their life that are out of balance. For instance, someone might select to abstain from using social media or watching television for the duration of the fast, and then choose to carefully bring that element back into their life in an orderly fashion at the conclusion of the fast.