Student's Lent Devotionals
Churches from around Edina came together to create these Lent Devotional for you. We hope and pray that these are an encouragement to you on the 40 day journey leading up to Easter.
Scripture: Joel 2:12-13
Today is Ash Wednesday – the beginning of Lent. The 40 days (not counting Sundays) from now until Easter. Sometimes in Lent people give things up. But I really don’t think my biggest problem in life is how much diet coke I drink or how much time I spend on tiktok. My problem is that I tend to give pieces of my heart away to things that cannot love me back.
So maybe this Lent I can spend less time giving things up and more time gathering things up. Gathering those pieces of my heart and returning to God with them – like these verses say. There’s even a word for that … repentance.
I used to think repentance meant to feel so bad about being bad that you promise not to be bad anymore. But really it’s just about returning to God. Getting a fresh start. Remembering that you were made from dust and the very breath of God, because of LOVE. A love that’s a lot like super glue and can mend those pieces of our hearts, making it whole again. And the best part? There’s no limit, this love never runs out. We can return over and over again.
Engage: It’s common to “give something up” for Lent. It is also entirely appropriate to take something on for Lent. Our hope is that you would take on this devotional for the next 40 or so days. Coming together, with students from other churches, to read, think and pray about the same things. Set an alarm for every day until Easter to remind you to read this devo and see where God leads you.
Prayer: God help me return to you. So I can know and feel your super glue kind of love. Amen.
Scripture: Philippians 2:1-5
This is the passage that I live my life by. I try to put aside my selfishness and ego and try to find a way to connect to the folks around me. Seeing how, when we are connected, we are stronger and able to do more than we ever could alone. Everyone that God sets in my path, is someone I can help, or they can help me. I struggle with that last part. I want to be the one with the answers and the helping hand. There is my ego getting in the way again. Being open to others’ ability to help me is not a sign of weakness, as my ego tries to tell me it is, it is a sign from God, that I am not alone in this world. With God and others, together, we can build heaven on earth.
Engage: Notice when there is someone that has a skill or ability that you do not have. Compliment them on that ability. Be grateful for their skill, as well as your own.
Prayer: Dear Creator, Help me be open to help from others. Know that when we work together we are able to help build your kingdom here on earth. Amen
Scripture: John 4:4-26
I moved a lot as a kid, and while most of the time I adapted pretty quickly, the move we made when I was in 7th grade was tough. I had a thick southern accent and frizzy hair that made me majorly stick out in my new school (which is the last thing most of us want in middle school). I became a social outcast simply for being different, and being seen talking to me would be detrimental to your social life. After a lonely 7th grade experience, you can imagine my shock when that summer Annie Reichardt, a well known, well liked fellow student, struck up a conversation with me. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was a joke or a dare of some sort. But it soon became clear that Annie simply didn’t care what others thought, and wanted to be my friend. Her willingness to go out of her way to make me feel seen and valued changed the course of middle school for me. She brought me into the fold of her friend group, and I went from having no one, to having community.
Jesus did a similar thing in the passage we’re reading for today. He went out of His way to engage in conversation with a Samaritan (Jews and Samaritans did NOT associate with one another) woman (the culture in this time didn’t see women as worthy of the kind of relationship Jesus offered her) with a terrible reputation! He went against the social norms to show this woman that she was seen and valued. In the end, the course of her life and her eternity were changed. She went from being an outcast to having a family in Christ!
Engage: Go out of your way this week to speak to someone in the hallway or cafeteria that people tend to keep their distance from. You never know the impact it may have!
Prayer: God, please give me the eyes to see those that we steer away from and the courage to go against the grain by showing them love and kindness.
Scripture: Psalm 32:8-10
When I was a boy, my family road tripped to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. To explore this magnificent spectacle, my family purchased a tour on mules. We each attached spurs to our shoes and hopped on saddled mules. The narrow trail trekked between the canyon on one side and a cliff on the other. The mules each had names that revealed something about their personalities. I still remember my brother’s mule was named Dagwood, because he liked to chew on wood. Sure enough, a few minutes into the tour, Dagwood stopped by a tree stump and began chewing on it.
My mule’s name was Dangerous Disco. The tour guide said he sometimes liked to veer off trail and head down the cliffs of the canyon. What!? Really!? Why was I riding Dangerous Disco?! I was the youngest one there and they put me on this thing? Are you kidding me? I was scared from the start. Sure enough, a ways into the tour, Dangerous Disco stepped one hoof off trail. I gulped. He stepped again, and then again. By this time we were totally off trail heading down a small decline. “I’m gonna die!” I thought to myself. My heart was pounding. We were going to fall into the Canyon like Wiley E. Coyote when he chases Roadrunner.
Even though there was a lump in my throat, I squeaked out, “Help!” The tour guide somehow heard me, whipped around, and shouted, “Use your spurs!” I looked down at my left shoe with the spiky spur strapped to my heel. I kicked once. Dangerous Disco stopped. I kicked again. He stepped towards the trail. I kicked one more time and he reluctantly made his way back to the trail. I am still alive to tell the tale!
Psalm 32 instructs us to NOT be like a mule that only goes places because it is forced by bit and bridle. The context of this psalm is about confession and forgiveness. David aches inside until he verbalizes his sin to God in prayer. In response to God’s forgiveness, the psalm encourages us to willingly follow God’s direction, including forgiving others when they have wronged us.
Lent focuses us on the suffering of Christ during his torture and execution. Christ died to wash away our sins. If we expect Jesus to forgive us of all our sins, we are called to forgive the people who sin against us. We are fueled by God’s forgiveness vertically to forgive others horizontally. Not reluctantly like a mule, but willingly. Forgiveness cancels the urge for revenge that our culture encourages. Forgiveness promises to not constantly bring the sin up to the wrongdoer to beat them down with it. Forgiveness restores our relationship with God and hopefully the relationship with the person who has wronged us. The word for God’s love in Psalm 32:10 is hesed which is an awesome Hebrew word that means faithful covenant love. God’s love endures many cycles of sin, confession, forgiveness, and restoration. Hopefully we can do the same.
Engage: Listen to Yet Not I But Christ Through Me
Prayer: Forgive me my debts, as I forgive my debtors.
Scripture: Matthew 25:31-46
In high school, on one really hot summer day, I was with my youth group at camp at a college in Wisconsin. We were crossing the street where there was a group of kids skateboarding. I was carrying water and one of the skaters, dripping with sweat, asked me where I got it, to which I replied, “you can have this one.” We got several feet past them and my youth minister turned around and quoted Matthew 25 to me: “I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.”
This was a very literal interpretation, but my youth minister was trying to show me that God is in each of us. Jesus died for all of us and I believe that his presence is with each and everyone of us all the time. Even the “least” of us. To become more like Jesus, we must strive to see people the way he does, as precious and created by God.
This can prove incredibly difficult for me. I want people to think the way I think, to care about the things I care about. But, each time I am able to remember that a person is created by God, it gets a little easier for me to love them.
Engage: Who is it hard to see as a precious child of God? Think of someone with whom you have had a negative interaction with in the past few days. What would it take for you to see Jesus in them? In a journal or on a piece of paper, try writing their name and praying for them:
Prayer: God, help me to see you in ________. The next time I see them, help me see YOU. During this season of Lent, help me get better at seeing you in all people.
Scripture: Exodus 33:11
I have been a part of the church my entire life. One of the things that was always a bit confusing to me growing up was prayer. I constantly wondered if God was listening to me or if I was speaking to thin air. There is a way that some people talk to God or each other that some have called “Christianese.” It is language that is often vague and does not make sense to people outside of the church. The good news that I learned later on in life is that God speaks to us and hears us in our own language. We can talk to God just as we do a friend. There is no special language we have to learn for God to hear us. He hears our frustrations, doubts, and sorrows, yet the way he sees us never changes. If today is the first time you decide to pray, here is a simple way to start:
Tell God one thing you are thankful for and one thing you need help with.
Engage: Talking to Jesus by Elevation Worship
Prayer: God, I am thankful for _________ and I need help with ______.
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
I’ve always been a fan of Minnesota, I love experiencing the seasons. Other than the weather changing I feel the shifts through people and community. It brings different highs, different lows but all of it feels valuable.
Lent season and spring feels like a mixed bag. We are hopeful for the new life, a little more sun and summer on the horizon, yet we still carry some of the hard winter with us and know there is a chance for it to visit again before summer. Lent is a great season to check in, check in with yourself, with others, with God. What excites you? What is holding weight? What is in need of healing or repair? What are some ways you’ve grown? Really it’s a great time to hold space to remind yourself you are human, and God loves the human you are.
This lent season, create your space. Hold your space. Take time to reflect, to heal, to grow. Learning that we are human is valuable, learning that others are human is valuable. Say no to what you need to, celebrate what you want to, cry without rules, soak in being the beloved and encourage others with that love.
Engage: Listen to the song Turn! Turn! Turn! Cover by Sara Niemietz and take some space to check in with yourself and God. Could be going for a walk, just feeling whatever you’re feeling, taking some deep breaths etc. Don’t do it for an outcome just do it for the sake of feeling human and loved in that.
Prayer: God in this breath of prayer may I find deep gratitude for being human, for the gift to be able to feel, the gift to experience healing and love. Help me to become more of my whole being so that I may encourage others to do the same, grounded in your love. Amen.
Scripture: Romans 5:1-5
Finding hope can be really, really hard. It is so much more natural, so much easier to feel like you’ve hit a wall, like you’ve been cornered, like there’s nothing that could change to create a better outcome. Personally, I have a real talent for spiraling into doom. Everytime I think about the state of our planet I get this painful feeling in my chest that wants to drag me into that hopeless, boxed in place, a place where everything is on fire and there’s nothing I could do about it. The thing is, that same feeling is what can bring you into hope. It doesn’t have to shut you down, in fact that pain is a sign of strong and genuine care. If that is your truth, live it. Lead with the care you have and take steps towards growth and change, let that pain in your heart be the thing that perpells you. It is always worth it to have perseverance and hope because as we fight for the things that we care about, God walks with us.
Engage: I would recommend giving a listen to SUPERBLOOM by Misterwives, a great song about leaning into hopefulness
Prayer: God please let your love hold us as we fight off discouragement and find your steadfast path to hope, peace, and righteousness.
Scripture: Zephaniah 3:17
Can you think of a time in your life where someone was really excited about something you did or maybe about who you were as a person? Maybe you can think back to a time when your parents were excited because you treated your siblings with kindness and that moment sticks out to you. Maybe you can remember a time when a teacher was really excited because you finally got a concept that you had been working on together for awhile. Or a coach was excited because you scored the winning goal. When I think about all of these different scenarios, the one thing that stands out to me is that they are all conditional. All of these scenarios, and maybe the one you thought of, depended on you doing something in order for that person to be excited with you or for you.
I love this verse because it is such a good reminder for us about God’s character towards us. He rejoices over you with gladness. Period. There is no condition to that. Do you believe that God rejoices in who you are? I think the world we live in is really quick to tear us down and make us believe that there is nothing worth rejoicing over in us. Maybe you feel like you are constantly being told that you are doing something wrong, or you feel like you aren’t lovable, or like you are worthless. I think this verse is a great reminder to us in those moments when we are feeling like that that God believes that YOU are worth the death of his son. That you are worth rejoicing over. There is nothing you can ever do or say that will change his mind.
I might not know you or your story, but one thing I do know is that God is rejoicing over who you are right now. I wish I could get coffee with each one of you and look you in the eyes and remind you of that. So as we continue on in this Lent season, my prayer for you is that you would hold that truth close to you. That no matter where you find yourself right now, that you would believe that you are worth rejoicing over and that you would remember that we have a God who is rejoicing over you even in our hardest moments when we might not believe that about ourselves. Nothing about God’s love for us is conditional.
Engage: Take a minute today, maybe on your ride to school, to listen to the song “This Close” by Steffany Gretzinger. I think it’s a great reminder for us of the truths that we find in the verse in Zephaniah.
Prayer: God, thank you for your unconditional love towards me. Thank you for the way that You rejoice over me always. Help me to remember how loved I am by you in the moments where I am feeling defeated. Amen.
Scripture: Joshua 10:1-14
The Lord was keeping his covenant of providing his people with the promised land. This land was fertile, but not very big. Why would God lead the conquest in this particular area of the world? Even in the time of Joshua around 1400 BC, the land was a crossroads of mighty kingdoms of the world. The highway between Egypt and Mesopotamia, Assyria, Babylon, and Persia ran right through it. God selected this spot because this was where he would establish the kingdom of God. And from Jerusalem the message of the kingdom would spread.
But first, back to Joshua 10. Under the leadership of Moses, the Hebrews exited Egypt, wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, and now they were on the doorstep of Canaan. This up and coming kingdom of Israel had already defeated Sihon, Og, Jericho, and Ai. The Amorite king of Jerusalem was fearful of the Israelite invasion so he forged an alliance with 4 other city-states. Their mission was to conquer Gibeon and fight the Israelites from there. When they besieged the city, the Gibeonites were fearful and sent messengers to Joshua for help. Even though the Lord commanded the Israelites to NOT make a treaty with the idolatrous kingdoms of Canaan, the Gibeonites tricked them into a treaty. So Joshua, being a man of his word, mobilized his army to defend their new allies.
Joshua marched his army through the night 15 miles and up 3000 feet of elevation. When the sun rose over Gibeon, the Lord threw the 5 kings into a panic and the Israelites routed them. Fleeing through the Valley of Aijalon, the wicked Amorites were cut down by Israelite swords and smashed by hailstones from God. To complete the victory, Joshua prayed for more daylight, and the Lord answered. The passage ends with the summary statement, “Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!”
During Lent, we remember how Jesus established a kingdom very different from the kingdom of Israel. And instead of winning a glorious battle, he suffered a humiliating defeat on the cross. But through this apparent defeat, Jesus overcame evil, death, and the devil. Today, the Kingdom of God does not advance through the sword, but through the weapons of truth and suffering. Sharing the good news of Jesus’ resurrection and suffering the world’s hostility to it. Many hated Jesus and persecuted his disciples, but the gospel spread and the kingdom grew.
Engage: Listen to King of Kings by Hillsong
Prayer: Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Scripture: 1 Kings 19: 1-9
Don’t underestimate the power of a nap and a snack. We all need a chance to rest and add fuel to our bodies.
Elijah was running away after he accomplished a huge victory, but the losing side threatened his life. He becomes so sad and scared, he tells his companion to go away as he continues to run. The exhaustion catches up to him and he lays down and wants to die. Exhausted, hungry and alone. He falls asleep. Wakes, has a snack, naps again! Wakes a second time, eats again and is ready to continue on.
While most of us are not running for our lives, we sometimes act like it. We don’t spend the time to stop and check in with our bodies. Adequate rest, nutritious food and companionship help us on our journey. We can find ourselves, pushing beyond our limits, pushing away our friends and thinking no one cares. When we find ourselves in that frame of mind, it is a good practice to HALT. Ask yourself if you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.
Just like the messengers God sent to help Elijah, we are sent messengers as well. Friends and family that can help us sort out a snack, provide companionship, listen as we talk about our feelings and remind us to go take a nap!
Engage: The next time you start to think like Elijah in this story, Ask yourself to HALT.
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for stories that remind us that we are all human. Help us to be gentler with our bodies and provide for them the things they need to carry us on our journey. Amen.
Scripture: Matthew 1:23
Unpacking: This is a short one.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need it to be short and simple. My life has not been simple for a while now. Maybe you are reading this and thinking the same thing. My life has felt like one big storm swirling around me. I have felt lonely and sad. I have felt confused and upset. I have felt unseen and forgotten. Where is the peace? Where is the hope? Where is God in all of this? It is often too easy for us to focus on the storm swirling or the hard feelings that are being felt.
Then this happens. A baby comes in the dead of night and is called Immannuel. “God with us.”
I don’t know about you but sometimes I just need to have someone come alongside me in the midst of the swirling storm around me and say I am with you. This is what Jesus has done for each of us. He comes down into our chaotic world, puts his arm around us and says, “I am with you, your name here”. When I have slowed down and breathed, I have been able to acknowledge God’s withness in my life. While I am still in the midst of the storm, knowing God is indeed with me and for me brings me peace and hope in the middle of it all.
He is with YOU and for YOU sweet friend, even if it doesn’t feel like it.
Engage: Find a comfortable space, get comfortable. Take 3 deep breaths. Inhale, exhale and be reminded that God is indeed with you. Inhale, exhale and be reminded that God is for you. Inhale, Exhale and know God sees you, knows you and loves you.
Prayer: Lord, I feel overwhelmed. Lord help me know deep down in my gut, that you are with me. I ask that you would give me peace and hope and help me to focus more on you rather than all that is going on around me. Amen.
Scripture: Ephesians 1:4-5
Would you consider yourself a disciple of Jesus? A disciple wants to be like their rabbi (a Jewish teacher) and wants to learn to do what their rabbi does. Have you ever thought about Jesus as your rabbi?
There’s an ancient Jewish blessing that supposedly goes,
“May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi.”
The idea is that a rabbi’s disciples were to follow so closely behind him that when they walked they would become caked in the dust he kicked up with his feet.
Is it possible to be that close to Jesus? What would it look like?
Faith in Jesus is important, but what about Jesus’ faith in us? He must have faith in us, because he doesn’t stay on Earth forever. He ascends to Heaven and leaves it all in the hands of his disciples.
Do you believe that Jesus believes in you? How could that belief change things?
Engage: Read this blessing and try to embrace this true that God believes in you!
May you believe in God. But may you come to see that God believes in you. May you have faith in Jesus. But may you come to see that Jesus has faith that you can be like him. A person of love and compassion and truth. A person of forgiveness, and peace, and grace, and joy, and hope. And may you follow Jesus so closely that you are covered in the dust of your rabbi. (From Rob Bell – Nooma – Dust)
Prayer: God help me believe in myself as you believe in me.
Scripture: 1 John 3:18-19 Little children, let’s not love with words or speech but with action and truth. This is how we will know that we belong to the truth and reassure our hearts in God’s presence.
Have you ever heard the phrase, walk the walk not talk the talk? We can use words to describe our character, but the true measure of our character is what we do. Can we walk the walk and talk the talk? Being kind and compassionate, showing God’s love and care for all, is not always easy. But when we belong to God, we need to take action. We show the kindness that has been shown to us, to others around us. Not just the ones that are easy to be kind to, but everyone. It may pull us out of our comfort zone, but God will be with us, sending helpers, when necessary, to extend kindness, compassion and love to all of God’s creation.
Engage: This is a short video shows compassion and kindness does not always need words. Hank Finds an Egg
Prayer: Dear Creator, let my words of kindness and love not be hollow. Let them be filled with action and compassion. In Jesus name. Amen
Scripture: Matthew 6:25-34
It is so easy for me to be busy. When I see someone I haven’t seen in awhile and they ask how I’ve been: “busy.” Always “busy.” It can feel almost criminal to not be busy. I feel like if I’m not doing something, that must mean something is not getting done and I get an anxious feeling. It feels like a tightening in my stomach. It’s easy to worry. In our culture, it can be hard to slow down and give ourselves a chance to reflect.
In Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples not to worry, to slow down and take a look at their surroundings. He challenges them to look at how God has taken care of the nature around them. The plants and animals are fine because God takes care of them. The birds don’t farm yet they eat well. They don’t didn’t get into their first choice school or rush the right fraternity/sorority. They didn’t even go to college, yet God has taken care of them. When we slow down we have a chance to reflect on where God is in our lives, and how God has already taken care of us.
Engage: Meditation has incredible effects on our spirit, mind and body. Before bed, put your phone on airplane mode, set a 5 minute timer, close your eyes, and think about your day. Where was God? How did God use you today? Where did you see God in others? Thank God for the blessings in your life. If your timer goes off and you need more time, set it for 5 more!
Prayer: God, help me to slow down. Help me to see you in my life everyday. Help me to not worry. Amen.
Scripture: Luke 4:1-13
In October of 2022, the Minnesota-based charity called Feeding Our Future was found guilty of meal fraud. 50 people connected with the charity stole $250 million dollars of federal money intended to feed hungry children and used it for personal use. For example, the owner of Brava Cafe claimed she was using federal funds to feed children in the Twin Cities but instead purchased a 1.6 million dollar home in Medina for herself. She did provide some meals but used most of the 7 million dollars she received on personal luxuries. The FBI has released hundreds of pages of evidence against those involved. The 50 individuals charged with meal fraud are facing large fines and jail time. The federal prosecutor called this “a brazen scheme of staggering proportions.”
Temptation starts small, but can quickly snowball out of control.
The devil’s lies often seem good, but are clearly evil when unmasked.
The challenge for us is to discern when the devil is disguising deception. In Luke 4, the devil offered Jesus everything the world has to give. Pleasure, power, and protection. The devil made the world more appealing and more seductive.
That’s how the deceiver continues to tempt us. His hope is to make us fall in love with the world and to drift away from the Lord. Jesus overcomes temptation with Scripture. He quotes Deuteronomy three times. His responses ground us in the truth, that we are here to worship the Lord our God and serve him only.
The temptation in the wilderness was the beginning of Jesus’ public, earthly ministry. Lent draws our attention to another chapter of it. Temptation does not equal sin, as Jesus was sinless. But even when we do fall prey to temptation, the sinless life of Jesus redeems our sinful lives. He lived the life we should and died the death we deserved. With the power of Jesus and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can also overcome temptation as we seek to live lives worthy of the calling we have received, holy and pleasing in God’s sight.
Engage: Listen to His Mercy is More by Matt Papa and Matt Boswell
Pray: Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.