What to read for Lent?

One of the ways I observe Lent (which starts tomorrow) is to read.  I know, that’s like a fish saying that he is making plans to swim.  I read quite a bit anyway, but for my specifically Lenten reading I look for something that is challenging yet devotional.   What would you suggest?  (I’ll give you some suggestions after the break.  I have an idea for what I intend to take on, but I’d like to hear your recommendations, not just for me but for anyone else who would like some profitable Lenten reading.)

For devotional reading, you can hardly do better than The Treasury of Daily Prayer, which offers a Psalm, a passage from the Old Testament, a passage from the New Testament, a writing from a church father, a passage from a hymn, and a classic prayer for each day of the week.

And for a book to build up your spiritual life and to help you grow in your faith, read John Kleinig’s Grace upon Grace.

Now your turn to make recommendations.



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  • I always read Melito of Sardis’ “On Pascha” during Holy Week — usually once a day. It’s short and sweet. A real gem.

  • Daniel Deutschlander’s “The Theology Of The Cross: Reflections on His Cross and Ours” (http://online.nph.net/p-1532-the-theology-of-the-cross.aspx). Both doctrinal and devotional.

  • Trey

    I like this book (The Lord Will Answer) for theology and devotion. It also has prayer by the church Fathers: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0758606869

  • Andrew Packer

    The Rev. David Petersen’s Thy Kingdom Come: Lent and Easter Sermons – (http://www.amazon.com/Thy-Kingdom-Come-Sermons-Petersen/dp/1934328073/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1360675902&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=thy+kingdom+come+petresen)- there are sermons for every day in Lent.

  • I think this book will make great devotional reading, especially if you are a pastor:

  • Seriously, for pastors, young and ol, perhaps discouraged, read Then Fell the Lord’s Fire by Bo Giertz, his sermons and essays directed at the pastoral office are solid gold.

  • HippoAugustine

    Philip Yancey The Jesus I never knew

  • Erik Charles

    This is not exactly what you are asking for, but since people are always suggesting things to give up for Lent, how about this: give up reading current event news until Easter. Replace it with whatever devotional you like (thanks for the suggestions) but otherwise just ignore what’s going on in the world.

    I know, it sounds impossible. Maybe even irresponsible. But my guess is that if a piece of news is pressing, almost necessary, then it will find you. A little anecdote to demonstrate:
    My mother was on a tour of national parks and sights out west when 9/11 happened. She was at a ranger station, saw the flag at half mast, and asked why it was. A ranger informed her of what happened, and when she got to where she could watch news coverage she got up to speed on what was going on.

    We think we must know all things right now. Yours truly is guilty as charged. The truth is the only thing we need now is Jesus and the perfect righteousness He won for us and for our salvation, as Lent so clearly reminds us.

  • Pr. Petersen’s book, Thy Kingdom Come, is also on our website. We ship within a day or two, much faster than Amazon at this point: http://emmanuelpress.us/our-books/thy-kingdom-come/ As Pr. Packer notes, there are sermons for every day in Lent as well as the Sundays after Easter and several Saints’ days. Be sure to check out his interview from yesterday’s Issues, Etc. about Lenten preaching: http://issuesetc.org/2013/02/11/1-lenten-preaching-pr-david-petersen-21113/

  • Luther’s Small Catechism is pretty good.

    Many tend to forget about because they are so familiar with it. Huh?

  • Screwtape Letters

  • This takes all of 30 seconds to read (for Lent);


    Pass it on. (just give Pastor Mark a nod – thanks)

  • fws

    1 cor 13:4-7

    Valentine´s day is this coming thursday.
    Lent, which is God´s love letter for us is also upon us.
    I would suggest Reading the text thinking of our dear Lord, incarnately as being that Love being described by its fruits.
    Then I would suggest that we repent , in the spirit of Lent, at how bankrupt we are of Love.
    Then we can give praise that all that we read has been perfected in that Love Incarnate.
    Faith and Hope, and the fruits of love that we receive from others, we have now.
    They are the shaddow of things to come.
    Their completion and Telos is Christ himself.

    Have mercy Lord!
    Maranatha! Come quickly Lord!

  • Keith

    Thy Kingdom Come by Pr. Petersen

  • Tom Hering

    How about the sermons of some of our old Lutheran preachers? Like the Rev. Frederick Kuegele. Book compilations of his sermons were popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and comprised two multi-volume series published by Augustana and Concordia. A good choice would be Country Sermons Volume III: Gospel Sermons (1899), which covers Advent through Pentecost and includes eight Lenten sermons. Really good stuff. Or the two-volume Devotional Bible (New Testament) published by Concordia in 1948. (All are out-of-print. Support your local secondhand book dealer. 😉 )

  • MHB

    Working the Angles — Eugene Petersen.

  • Steven Thomas

    Johann Gerhard’s Explanation of the History of the Suffering and Death of our Lord.

  • helen

    For you academics: Hathitrust has got Country Sermons on line. You can download a pdf.

  • Tom Hering

    Good thinking Helen! Looks like Google Books has a couple of volumes from the the two series. And Read Any Book has the volume I mentioned @ 15:


  • Rev. Bob Hiller

    I was inspired by this idea last year. This year I have decided to read CP Krauth’s “The Conservative Reformation.”. It doesn’t look particularly devotional, but it will be challenging and helpful nonetheless.

  • Nils

    @3 – Ditto on “The Lord Will Answer.” You get Luther’s Small Catechism as well as good doctrine in a nice daily dose.

    I’d also suggest the many-times recommended “Broken” by Jonathan Fisk. Good introspective reading regarding Christian conduct.

  • Pastorjpb

    On Being a Theologian of the Cross
    Reflections on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, 1518
    By Gerhard Forde

  • Abby

    I hadn’t thought of doing this, but it is a good idea. So I looked in my book box (no shelves right now). I’m going to read “The Spirituality of the Cross” by Gene Edward Veith

  • Hanni

    Hi, Hippo@#7,
    I think I will read the Yancey book, too, better order it todlay, I’ve been meaning to get it since I bought his book: Prayer, Does it Change Anything? I am still reading back and forth in it

  • fws

    hanni @ 24
    Luther says this:
    Large Catechism, Lords Prayer…. http://www.bookofconcord.org

    1] We have now heard what we must do [ in the 10 c0mmandments] and believe, [in the apostles creed] in which things the best and happiest life consists.
    Now follows the third part, how we ought to pray.

    2] … no man can perfectly keep the Ten Commandments, even though he have begun to believe, and since the devil with all his power, together with the world and our own flesh, resists our endeavors,

    nothing is so necessary as that we should continually resort to the ear of God, call upon Him, and pray to Him, that He would give, preserve, and increase in us faith and the fulfilment of the Ten Commandments, and that He would remove everything that is in our way and opposes us therein….

    5] … it is our duty to pray because of God’s commandment.

    For thus we heard in the Second Commandment: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain, that we are there required to praise that holy name, and call upon it in every need, or to pray. For to call upon the name of God is nothing else than to pray. 6] Prayer is therefore as strictly and earnestly commanded as all other commandments: to have no other God, not to kill, not to steal, etc.

    Let no one think that it is all the same whether he pray or not, as vulgar people do, who grope in such delusion and ask, Why should I pray? Who knows whether God heeds or will hear my prayer? If I do not pray, some one else will. And thus they fall into the habit of never praying, and frame a pretext, as though we taught that there is no duty or need of prayer, because we reject false and hypocritical prayers.

    8] But praying, as the Second Commandment teaches, is to call upon God in every need.
    This He requires of us, and has not left it to our choice.
    But it is our duty and obligation to pray if we would be Christians, as much as it is our duty and obligation to obey our parents and the government; …

    9] …. For just as it would be idle for a son to say to his father, “Of what advantage is my obedience? I will go and do what I can; it is all the same;” but there stands the commandment, Thou shalt and must do it,

    so also here it is not left to my will to do it or leave it undone, but prayer shall and must be offered at the risk of God’s wrath and displeasure.

  • helen

    Tom @ 19
    Thanks, but I must confess I logged on to see if our library had a print copy. (That is my preference and the title is almost old enough.) 8-^)
    Or who else might have it, to ILS…. But we are very digitally oriented now, so that is what came up.

  • BW

    Since he is leaving at the end of the month, what about any of Pope Benedict’s books on the life of Jesus? I hear they are pretty good.

  • michael b

    I favor reading “The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas Kempis. It is written as a dialogue between Christ and “The Disciple”. Many subjects are covered in short chapters. It has been a bestseller since about 1450.