LENT: A Time to Grow Closer to God

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A prayer service for youth


The season of Lent is upon us. This prayer service is written for middle school- and high school-aged youth. It’s an invitation for them to look at the season as a time to cultivate spiritual practices that will help them grow spiritually. It’s a call to gently suggest that they take more responsibility in their spiritual life.

Set up the environment

Cover a table with a purple cloth and add a crucifix. If possible, have smaller crucifixes (rosary-size) to give to each person. Open a Bible to Matthew 4.

Opening prayer

LEADER: Loving God, you give us the season of Lent to prepare for the Resurrection. For 40 days we will pray, fast, and give so that we are ready to celebrate. Forty days seems so long! Help me to give these days to you so that I grow closer to you and to your Son. Please give me the wisdom to know how to live out this time. Amen.


Pray Psalm 32 together, alternating left and right sides with each verse. (There is a slideshow for your use at Catechist.com/ps32.)


Choose someone from the group ahead of time to read Matthew 4:1-11, The Temptation of Jesus. Ask the group to listen for the three ways in which Jesus is tempted.

READER: A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Glory to You, O Lord.

Read the passage; then pause and say: The Gospel of the Lord.

Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Reflection discussion

Ask the group how Jesus is tempted. He was tempted with food, he was asked to test his Father, and he was tempted with material possessions. We are also tempted by these things in our own lives. We may be tempted to eat too much, or to eat foods that are not good for us, but maybe we don’t control ourselves in other areas. We fail at trusting God; we want many things and sometimes make our possessions more important than people. (As the leader of your group, add your own thoughts, for you know the needs your group.) Lent, then, is a time to think and act on what we’d like to change about ourselves. Instead of thinking about Lent as a time to give up or add something to your life, think about it as a new start. This way, when Lent is over, you will have a new spiritual practice that helps you stay close to God. Jesus was able to resist the devil because he knew the truth. He trusted his Father and knew what was important.

Reflection with music

SONG: Use this song to continue your reflections: “40 Days” by Matt Maher CATmag.us/40DaysMattMaher

Before you play the song, ask the group to think about what they would like to add to their
prayer life, what they’d like to change about themselves, and how they can give to others.
Have paper available so everyone can write out their plans for Lent as they listen to the song.

Ideas for their prayer life
■ Pray a morning offering.
■ Pray an act of contrition at night.
■ Read the Gospels for 5 to 10 minutes a day.

Ideas for growing in virtue
■ Be less sarcastic; be more thankful.
■ Spend more time with family members instead of watching TV or playing video games.
■ Refuse to gossip; try to see the good in others, especially those who irritate you.

Ideas on how to give to others
■ Offer to help a neighbor with chores or offer to babysit without pay.
■ Use part of your allowance or savings to buy food for a food bank.
■ Be more helpful at home by sharing in or taking over someone’s else’s chores.

Offer a few minutes after the song to be sure each youth has a plan of something to do or try during Lent. Then close with the following petitions.


RESPONSE: Help me God, to turn to you.

When I want to do what is right and good but am tempted to follow others. ℟
When I say things that hurt others or ignore people who need me. ℟
When I care more about myself than others. ℟
When I don’t live up to my promises. ℟
When I am tired or feel lazy, give me the strength to do what I need to do. ℟
When I forget to show people I love them. ℟
For all of us as Lent begins, that we keep our promises to God. ℟

Closing prayer

LEADER: Heavenly Father, thank you for this time of Lent. We trust that you will help us to live it in the best way possible, growing into the persons you created us to be. Help us to carry what we learn this Lent with us always. Amen.

If using the small crucifixes, distribute to each person individually, saying, “(Name), let this crucifix be a reminder of your Lenten promises.”


Deanna Bartalini, MEd and MPA, is a writer, speaker, and catechist serving on the retreat team at Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Center in North Palm Beach, Florida. She is the author of Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women: Invite the Holy Spirit into Your Life. Find more at DeannaBartalini.com.

This article was originally published in Catechist magazine, February 2020.


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