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PREPARING YOUR FAMILY FOR THE SEASON OF GREAT LENT

“exercise yourself toward godliness” I Tim 4:7 (b)

Great Lent is that time of the year during which we take time to focus on renewing our spiritual life by the following the three-fold spiritual path of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

PRAYER

Fasting is ‘praying with our bodies’ and almsgiving is giving our resources – time, energy and finances to help others. But the foundation of all this is the daily family prayers we have. Here are some practical ways the family can prepare for daily prayers during this season.

Family Meeting

Gather the entire family together before Lenten season starts and explain about importance of daily prayers during this season.

a. MARK IT ON THE CALENDAR:

i. Lent will begin on February 28th and is till Easter Sunday, April 17th

ii. If you have the church liturgical calendar it’s already marked on it. If you have a normal calendar, mark the season on it.

iii. Hang the calendar with Lenten season marked clearly for everyone to see

b. GETTING THE ALTAR TABLE READY

Set apart a special place in your house where the family will gather for prayer. Here are the items that should be there…

i. A cross

ii. An icon of Christ

iii. Bible reading schedule

iv. Song book

v. Bibles

vi. Prayer book with lent prayers – (you can get a print out or you can get a PDF on the phone and copy the prayers down in a notebook) (if your kids are old enough they can help with this). Or you can ask your priest to help you get a copy or write down the prayers from him.

c. TIME OF DAILY PRAYERS

i. Everyday there will be special prayers from 6:00pm-6:30pm at home

ii. No other plans should be made during this time (shopping, watching TV, playing, cooking, homework, etc)

iii. Everyone needs to set aside everything else and be a part of the prayer.

iv. There are some special days of prayer in the Lenten Season for which it’s important the family to be part of the prayer or liturgical service along with the entire parish. Ex: Holy Week services.

d. GET THE WHOLE FAMILY INVOLVED.

Write up a schedule to make sure everyone has something special that they will be doing)

i. Young children (who cannot read yet) could…

a. Help light the candles (with an adults help)

b. Blow out the candles after prayer

c. Say the Lord’s Prayer by memory

d. Lead the Kauma by memory

e. Arrange the altar table and mats

ii. Older children

a. Read the Scriptures

b. Read the prayers

c. Lead the songs

Remember, if your family is not accustomed to have daily evening prayers, it will not be easy at first. But if you plan well, create the environment for it, get everyone in the family to have a role in it, then things will become easier as the days go by.

THE BLESSING:

There is a story in the Bible where a man named Obed-Edom was blessed because the ark of the Lord was in his house. In 2 Samuel 6:11 it says “And the LORD blessed Obed-Edom and all his household.”

By building our prayer altar and doing our daily prayers, we are creating the environment of God to bless not only us, but our entire household. Even if you are alone in this journey of daily prayers, remember, the God who blessed Potiphar’s house because of Joseph, will make you a blessing to others.

FASTING & ALMSGIVING

Gather the entire family together before Lenten season starts and explain about fasting & almsgiving during this season.

a. FASTING FROM FOOD:

i. Fasting mealtimes: For those who can, fast one or more mealtimes every day during the season. But this extra time gained is to be spent in prayer.

ii. Avoid meat is be avoided during this season in general.

iii. Exceptions to fasting are permitted, especially in the case of the elderly, pregnant and nursing mothers, small children, and those who are weak or sick.

b. FASTING IN EVERY SENSE:

Fast from seeing, hearing and doing evil.

i. Limit all forms of entertainment that rob us of our time and take our attention away from God – TV, Social media, computer games, chit chat with friends etc.

ii. Instead use that time

a. Go to church for services

b. Read Bible: Read that days scripture portions

c. Read Books of the Bible you have not read

d. Read our church books – those of Hon. Metropolitan

e. Help someone else – either in your family, neighbourhood or parish.

Please keep in mind:

• If you are new to fasting, begin by doing faithfully do as much as you are able during the Lenten period. Don’t overdo things.

• In Isaiah 58:7, we see that the fast that pleases God is where we take care of the needs of the poor and oppressed. Unless we share with those in need around us, our fasting will never be pleasing to God. The money saved by fasting from food, should be used to help the someone else in greater need than you.

THE BLESSING:

Fasting is often called ‘praying with our bodies.’ As Jesus says to Satan, ‘man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’, fasting is meant to remind us that we need to depend on God above all else in our life.

As in the case of the city of Nineveh, and throughout the Bible, we see that when God’s people humbled themselves with fasting and prayer, God always showed mercy on them and blessed them as a result.

May God bless all of us!

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