Home > Reading > Introduction to 2017 NALC Lenten Devotions

“Ashes to Easter” — the NALC Lenten Devotional — will not only be shared through written format, but also through video. Using the free technology of Facebook Live, Pastor David Wendel will share a new devotional video each morning on the NALC’s Facebook. The devotional will also be at the top of each day’s NALC Lenten Devotion on the NALC website.

Other options for receiving the Lenten devotions are listed at the bottom of this page.

Click video above to play.


As we approach Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Season of Lent, it seems worthwhile to say a few words of introduction regarding this historic, often misunderstood and misdirected, observance.

Without the time or space to present a detailed explanation of the development of Lent, it is enough to say that a time of repentance, reflection and renewal has been practiced by Christians as a 40-day season (excluding Sundays) from the fourth century to the present day. Lent had its roots in baptismal preparation, fasting before celebration of Easter, and renewed baptismal commitment for those who had fallen away from the faith.

Historically, Lent has been associated with the three spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving (see Matthew 6). Lutherans have often focused their observance on growing deeper in the Word of God, study of Luther’s Small Catechism, and reflection on one’s sinfulness, repentance and renewal through God’s grace and forgiveness. What is important, for Lutherans, is that Lenten observance be seen as a gracious gift for renewal and spiritual refreshment, not a good work to please God or earn His favor.

Martin Luther, preaching on Matthew 4:1-11, wrote about the spiritual discipline of fasting, “But the worst of all is that we have adopted and practiced fasting as a good work: not to bring our flesh into subjection; but, as a meritorious work before God, to atone for our sins and obtain grace.” (“Sermon for the First Sunday in Lent,” Luther’s Church Postil). Whether we share Lenten devotions, worship more frequently, give up things for Lent or engage in the biblical practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, it may never be understood as “a meritorious work before God, to atone for our sins and obtain grace.” Lent itself is a gift of God! Let us observe it as such.

This Lenten Daily Devotional is based upon the daily lectionary provided in the Lutheran Book of Worship, Year I. The daily lectionary appoints three lessons for each day, although for the purposes of this booklet, one or more verses from one lesson have been chosen as the basis for each day’s reflection.

The entire lesson appointed for the day is listed after the verses cited, if you have time and wish to read the text in its entirety. Otherwise, read just the brief lesson printed at the top of each page.

The prayer following each devotion may be seen as a “prayer starter,” encouraging your thoughts to go deeper into prayer, or you may find them sufficient as printed.

This year, I have added a Lenten Response for each day, providing a helpful suggestion for putting the devotion into simple action. You will note that there are no responses suggested once we move into Holy Week. My hope is that your response, then, will be observing the days of our Lord’s passion, death and resurrection.

Here’s something to keep in mind about Lenten devotions and all Lenten disciplines: use them in grace! People often become demoralized and disheartened when, by the end of the first week, they have stumbled in their Lenten discipline. If you miss a day’s devotion, or several days, catch up when you have time. There’s no eternal harm in reading two day’s devotions at once, or reading one week’s devotions all together, if necessary. This booklet offers short, to-the-point devotions that do not take much time, so that you may find joy in the simple Lenten discipline of daily devotions.

— The Rev. Dr. David M. Wendel

8.5″ x 11″ large print version for one- or two-sided printing on letter-sized paper

8.5″ x 11″ booklet (folds to 5.5″ x 8.5″) designed for two-sided printing on letter-sized paper

To receive daily devotionals via SMS, please text @NALCLENT to 614-682-8693.

To receive daily devotionals via email, please visit: NALC Lenten Devotional.

The 2017 Lenten Devotional is also available in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Search for NALC WALK OF FAITH. If you already have the NALC Walk of Faith app, just update it by clicking the “download” button next to the devotional for Lent.