Is it OK to Give Up Prayer for Lent?

Kara Powell | Jan 16, 2013

Is it OK to give up prayer for Lent?

If you’re Margaret Feinberg, the answer is, “Sort of.” In one of many memorable stories Margaret shares in her great new book, Wonderstruck, she writes of the year when she felt God asked her to “give up something rather odd: prayer.”

To clarify, she didn’t give up all prayer—just the lengthy ones.

Margaret decided to only pray three word prayers. Whether it was at the start of her day, while driving, or when she thanked God for the food in front of her, she limited herself to prayers that contained no more than three words. So “Thanks, God, for this morning” became “Thanks for today”.

Inspired by Margaret, I tried a “three word prayer” experiment today. It is both challenging and counterintuitive for me to limit prayers to three words. We’re interviewing Margaret for a webcast to celebrate the release of our Sticky Faith Every Day Curriculum on Tuesday, January 22 from 1-1:20 pm PT, and I’m looking forward to asking her more questions about that Lent experience. (Check back in at our blog on Tuesday for the live webcast link!)

The result of this new—and unusual—prayer discipline? Margaret writes that her prayers became “artisanal”, meaning they became marinated with the same painstaking care and intentionality that an artisan brings to his or her craft. Instead of “nonversations” in her prayer life, she was fully mindful and present during her prayers.

While I don’t yet have a sense for what spiritual disciplines or sacrifices I will feel called by God to elect during Lent, I doubt it will be long prayers. But reading Wonderstruck has made me wonder: In what ways am I sleepwalking in my prayers? What new practices or experiments might bring a new energy to my prayer life?

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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