What is Lent?
Lent is the traditional 40-day observance leading up to Easter Sunday in which Christians fast, pray, and prepare spiritually for a time of reverence and adoration of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. The period of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and concludes with Holy Saturday. We have collected some of the most popular Scriptures used to begin Lent on Ash Wednesday and to follow through the Holy Week.
Lent gives us an opportunity to step back and pause to recognize our humanity and sinful nature. The Lenten season reminds us of our need for a Savior as a time to reflect and repent for our shortcomings. It is an opportunity to recognize the human condition we may spend the rest of the year running from and bring our need for a Savior to the forefront. Lent prepares us as we approach Good Friday and Easter with thanksgiving for the grace and mercy shown to us.
Here we have compiled the best Bible verses to encourage your participation in fasting, prayer, and spiritual discipline during Lent, awaiting the celebration of Easter. May these Lent scripture quotes remind you of the biblical accounts of fasting we can draw strength from and further inspiration from the Word of God. God bless you this Lenten Season!
Lent Bible Verses on Ashes and Fasting
These Scriptures are focused on the fasting traditions behind Lent. The purpose of fasting is to abstain from distractions or temporary wants to focus on a stronger relationship with God. The purpose of fasting is to draw closer to God through prayer. The ashes at the beginning of Lent remind us that we will one day return to the earth and that there must be an atonement for our sins.
“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Genesis 3:19 - By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Job 42:5-6 - I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Ezekiel 9:4 - And the Lord said to him, “Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.”
Genesis 2:7 - Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
Ecclesiastes 3:20 - All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.
Joel 2:12 - “Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning
Psalm 69:10 - When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting, it became my reproach.
Matthew 6:16-18 - When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Daniel 10:3 - I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks.
Acts 14:23 - And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
Isaiah 58:6 - “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
1 Corinthians 7:5 - Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
Acts 13:2 - While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
Is Lent in the Bible?
Many people wonder if Lent is a practice that Scripture teaches. While the Bible doesn't specifically mention Lent, it does give us examples of 40 days of fasting periods. The Lenten season is inspired by the Bible story of Jesus in the wilderness, where He fasted and prayed for 40 days, rebuking the temptations from Satan with perfect faith and obedience to God the Father. Read each of the Gospel's accounts of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness.
Matthew 1:1-11 - Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. "All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Mark 1:12-14 - At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
Luke 4:1-13 - Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’” The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. f you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ”Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
Encouraging Scripture Readings for Lent
1 Peter 5:6 - Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
Matthew 4:4 - But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Psalm 35:13 - But I, when they were sick— I wore sackcloth; I afflicted myself with fasting; I prayed with head bowed on my chest.
Lamentations 3:25-26 - The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
Psalm 27:14 - Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
Nehemiah 1:4 - As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven
Psalm 130:5-6 - I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Ezra 8:23 - So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.
Romans 12:12 - Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Luke 18:12 - I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.
Luke 2:37 - And then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.
Jeremiah 29:12-13 - Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
Bible Prayers for Lent
Jonah's Prayer of Thanksgiving for Deliverance
From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: "In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, 'I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.' The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit. "When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. "Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God's love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, 'Salvation comes from the Lord.' " ~ Jonah 2:1-9
A Prayer for Cleansing
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar. ~ Psalm 51
A Prayer for God's Continued Mercy
Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you. You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. Hear my prayer, Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.
Among the gods there is none like you, Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name. For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God. Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead. Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God; ruthless people are trying to kill me- they have no regard for you.
But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Turn to me and have mercy on me; show your strength in behalf of your servant; save me, because I serve you just as my mother did. Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me. ~ Psalm 86
Read More: What is the Purpose and Meaning of Lent?
Article photos from GettyImages