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Historically, the holy season of Lent has been a special time for prayerful and penitential reflection, special devotion, self-denial and humble repentance as we meditate on the holy suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. These sacred days are to prepare us to celebrate “Easter with glad hearts and keep the feast in sincerity and truth.” 1

Based on Matthew chapter 6, the Western Church has historically encouraged the three-fold discipline of almsgiving (charity or giving to the needy), prayer, and fasting (Matthew 6:1–18) during the Lenten season. There in Matthew 6, our Lord Jesus does not say, "If you chose to give, pray or fast." Rather, He says "when you give … when you pray … when you fast … ." Our Lord, of course, spends much time in this chapter addressing the problems of false motivation; doing things in order to impress others and appear pious. However, He is also assuming that we will be active in deeds of piety; giving, prayer and fasting.

During this season of Lent, some will “give something up,” which is a form of fasting. Others will find a way to give extra to help the needy, to help supply a food bank—maybe even our own Food and Clothing Bank. And some will set aside extra time for prayer and meditation on God's Word.

As we journey together through this holy season of Lent, I encourage you to engage in one of these three Lenten disciples, if not all of them. And as we practice these things, let us remember to always “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

Whether you are fasting, giving or praying, fix your eyes on Jesus! He is only One who can prepare you now and always to celebrate the feast of Easter. May God bless our Lententide as we fix our eyes on Jesus!

In the name of Jesus,
Pastor Nettleton

Return from Exile daily devotional booklets are available on the tables in the narthex.
  1. “Ash Wednesday” in Lutheran Service Book: Altar Book (Concordia Publishing House, 2006), 483.

Rev. Shawn Nettleton is Senior Pastor at Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You can reach him in the church office, by email at or at 970-305-2420.