Lenten Sunday Prayer Practice: The Ten Commandments

In the Liturgy for Ash Wednesday, we are invited into the disciplines of Lent which include self-examination and repentance. We work to live into this particular discipline at least in part though the inclusion of and Order for Confession and Forgiveness as part of our worship service. However, this Order, at times runs the risk of being a thing we do as a matter of Rote rather than a matter of Ritual meant to help us know how follow Jesus more closely as well as where we need his forgiveness most acutely. To help us enter our time of confession more aware of what we are bringing to God, I want to invite you over the course of the next five Sundays to reflect on the Ten Commandments two at a time as well as their meanings from Martin Luther’s  Small Catechism. In our confession we often use the blanket statement of confessing “the things we have done and the things we have left undone.” Luther in his explanations of the commandments, tries to bring out what the commandments prohibit us from as well as what they prescribe for us to do in keeping them more fully. As you reflect on the commandments, bring to God not only where you have failed by breaking the commandments, but also envision the repentant life God is inviting you to of keeping the commandment more fully. Finally, bring all of this to God as we gather this morning for confession.

Reflect on the Ten Commandments two at a time through the Five Sundays of Lent, not including Palm Sunday.

The First Commandment

You shall have no other gods.

What does this mean?

We are to fear, love, and trust God above all things.

The Second Commandment

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God.

What does this mean?

We are to fear and love God, so that we do not curse, swear, practice magic, lie, or deceive using God’s name, but instead use that very name in every time of need to call on, pray to, praise, and give thanks to God.

The Third Commandment

Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy.

What does this mean?

We are to fear and love God, so that we do not despise preaching or God’s word, but instead keep that word holy and gladly hear and learn it.

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother.

What does this mean?

We are to fear and love God, so that we neither despise nor anger our parents and others in authority, but instead honor, serve, obey, love, and respect them.

The Fifth Commandment

You shall not murder.

What does this mean?

We are to fear and love God, so that we neither endanger nor harm the lives of our neighbors, but instead help and support them in all of life’s needs.

The Sixth Commandment

You shall not commit adultery.

What does this mean?

We are to fear and love God, so that we lead pure and decent lives in word and deed, and each of us loves and honors his or her spouse.

The Seventh Commandment

You shall not steal.

What does this mean?

We are to fear and love God, so that we neither take our neighbors’ money or property nor acquire them by using shoddy merchandise or crooked deals, but instead help them to improve and protect their property and income.

The Eighth Commandment

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

What does this mean?

We are to fear and love God, so that we do not tell lies about our neighbors, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations. Instead we are to come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret everything they do in the best possible light.

The Ninth Commandment

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.

What does this mean?

We are to fear and love God, so that we do not try to trick our neighbors out of their inheritance or property or try to get it for ourselves by claiming to have a legal right to it and the like, but instead be of help and service to them in keeping what is theirs.

The Tenth Commandment

You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

What does this mean?

We are to fear and love God, so that we do not entice, force, or steal away from our neighbors their spouses, household workers, or livestock, but instead urge them to stay and fulfill their responsibilities to our neighbors.

Give time for reflection


Lenten Midweek Prayer Practice: Questions for God

This Prayer Practice is provided by Pastor Patrick L. Sipes of First Evangelical Lutheran Church in North Platte, Nebraska. It will be used during Lenten midweek services in 2022.

This year on Wednesday’s during Lent we are using an excellent resource provided by Deacon Timothy Siburg, Director for Mission, Innovation and Stewardship for the Nebraska Synod. The heart of this liturgy is an invitation to ask big questions of ourselves and God. You can find the liturgy here: https://nebraskasynod.org/for-congregations/worship/

The big questions in relation to all we have experienced over the last two years through the pandemic and other upheavals around the globe are as follows:  

 Why? What is our purpose?

 Where is God in this?

 Who are we called to be?

 How do we get there? What’s next?
 What does this mean? What does this mean for us?

Before we get to these questions though, I would like to invite you into a time of prayer that can help you get more comfortable with asking questions of and to God. We do this because questioning God is something many people were taught not to do. They were taught that our duty is simply to accept what God does without question. So to ask questions of God may be new for you, it may go against what you were taught as your faith formed, and given that, it may be something very uncomfortable for you.

To boldly ask questions of God though puts you in good company. Jesus himself comes to God in a posture of questioning. Wondering in the Garden of Gethsemane with the repeated word “if”. “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me” and “if this cannot pass unless I drink it” In both cases, Jesus concedes to God’s will, but his posture of questioning whether there might be another way is clear. In his posture, we are invited to question ourselves, with the purpose of our prayer, like Jesus’ to align out will with that of God. However, that alignment does not happen in an authentic way without our asking the questions we need to.

To help us begin asking questions with this prayer practice, you will need a small piece of sturdy paper that you will use multiple times and a pen or pencil. Begin praying by asking God a question and as you do so, write a large question mark in the center of your paper. Follow that question with another, and as you ask it, loosely trace another question mark over the first. Continue with your questions and your repeated marking of question marks, as you do so, take time to listen, and as your question mark becomes more and more bold through repeated questions, allow your questions of God to become more bold as well.

Through this season of Lent, carry the questions you ask with you, continue to be in conversation about them with God, and take note of any answers that you might receive.

Take time to engage with this prayer practice.