Inspiring Scripture quotes for Lent can come in handy for youth ministry, or any talk really! Here are some of my favorites from the prophets. Each has a little introduction for context and a reflection to help you get started. At the end I mention some tips on how to use these quotes. Stay tuned…there’s more to come!
(Michelangelo's Fresco of Joel in Sistine Chapel)
The Prophet Joel
Context: Joel was written after the rebuilding of Jerusalem and after a terrible invasion of locusts ravaged Judah. It was such a catastrophe that the prophet used it as a symbol of the Lord’s judgment on Judah on the “great day of the Lord”. Yet the people could avert this future catastrophe by repenting and returning to the Lord with the whole heart. Coincidentally, this is the text that Peter cites in Acts of the Apostles chapter 2 to show the coming of the Holy Spirit in Pentecost was prophesied long ago.
11 How great is the day of the LORD! Utterly terrifying! Who can survive it? 12 Yet even now—oracle of the LORD—return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. 13 Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and relenting in punishment…Then it shall come to pass I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. (Joel 2:11-13; 3:1-2)
Reflection: Then, as it is today, it is too easy to not get past the external rituals of the liturgy and superficial Lenten sacrifices. So the prophets reminded the people that true worship comes from the heart. Otherwise, the Lord was forced to punish the people to keep them humble. If we have a hardened heart, we can soften it up through fasting and a spirit of remorse. The Lord prefers this over punishment since He is “slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love”! He is eager to fill us with the gifts of His Spirit provided we prepare our hearts to receive Him.
The Prophet Hosea
Context: Historically, Hosea is one of the first books written among the prophets. The Lord asks Hosea to marry and remain faithful to a prostitute as a symbolic action that represents God’s unwavering fidelity to Israel regardless of their shameful sins. Hosea also compares God’s care of His People to the love of a father to his child.
16 Therefore, I will allure her now; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak persuasively to her… 21 I will betroth you to me forever: I will betroth you to me with justice and with judgment, with loyalty and with compassion; 22 I will betroth you to me with fidelity, and you shall know the LORD. (Hosea 2:16; 21-22)
Reflection: The Lord tries various strategies to win over his “beloved” Israel. First, he places obstacles to keep Israel from idolatry. Then, he tries to punish Israel as a way to keep her from sinning. In the end, the Lord’s most effective strategy was to show Israel an even greater outpouring of love and fidelity that He compares to marriage. This is truly God’s response to our wavering faith: He seeks us out, trying to prove His love all the more.
1 Come, let us return to the LORD, For it is he who has torn, but he will heal us; he has struck down, but he will bind our wounds. 2 He will revive us after two days; on the third day he will raise us up, to live in his presence. 3 Let us know, let us strive to know the LORD; as certain as the dawn is his coming. He will come to us like the rain, like spring rain that waters the earth… 6 For it is loyalty that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:1-3, 6)
Reflection: These verses speak of conversion, especially if we are in need of healing or encouragement. The Lord can revive us! This is what Hosea means as “knowing” the Lord: to know by experience what the Lord can do for us! The Lord wants to come to you and just like the rain covers you all wet He wants to cover you with His presence. Lent is more than external sacrifices; it is about learning to be loyal to the Lord and experiencing His presence in my life.
1 When Israel was a child I loved him, out of Egypt I called my son. 2 The more I called them, the farther they went from me, Sacrificing to the Baals and burning incense to idols. 3 Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, who took them in my arms; but they did not know that I cared for them. 4 I drew them with human cords, with bands of love; I fostered them like those who raise an infant to their cheeks; I bent down to feed them. (Hosea 11:1-4)
Reflection: These are the words of a father who is deeply concerned with the well-being of his son. God loves us from our youth, that is, from the very onset and before we even realized it, much less be able to return some of that love. As we grow up, especially in adolescence, God is torn by the fact that the more He reaches out to us, the more we tend to wander away. These verses are an invitation to recall the wonderful Father we have in Heaven and allow Him a place in our hearts.
The Prophet Micah
Context: The name Micah means Who is like God. Not much is known of him, except that he was a contemporary to Isaiah. The book speaks of the impending judgment of the Lord of His People, then on the restoration of Judah, and ends with prayer and expression of trust in God s pardoning mercy. Micah would likely have experienced the siege of Jersusalem during the reign of Hezekiah. Also, Micah was the one that prophesied the Messiah would come from Bethlehem! (cf. Micah 5:1–4)
8 You have been told, O mortal, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
Reflection: The first verse summarizes what is true religion for Micah and the prophets: to do be just with everyone, to do good to everyone, and be humble before God. Keep in mind it’s not enough to be just and good. Recognizing God and humbling oneself is an essential part of true religion.
7 But as for me, I will look to the LORD, I will wait for God my savior; my God will hear me!…Who is a God like you, who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance; Who does not persist in anger forever, but instead delights in mercy, 19 And will again have compassion on us, treading underfoot our iniquities? You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins; 20 You will show faithfulness to Jacob, and loyalty to Abraham, As you have sworn to our ancestors from days of old. (Micah 7:18-20)
Reflection: Although there may be a lot of peer pressure to sin and turn away from God, Micah provides the perfect answer: But as for me, I will look to the Lord and wait for my savior! We can do this because we have come to know God as the one that removes our guilt, pardons my sin, delights in showing me mercy and compassion, and always shows His faithfulness.
how to use these verses
Here are some of the ways you can use these verses:
- Include them in a talk on Lent.
- Or simply read them to your youth group or class, asking the teens to raise their hands if they liked it, or if they have a comment or question to make.
- Print them and hand them out to each teen in the chapel for some time of personal prayer, or adoration.
- Print them out in colorful cards and hand them to the teens to take home to hang somewhere in their room. Perhaps leave a space where teens write in their sacrifice during Lent.
- Again, print them and hand them out for small group discussion.
- Copy and paste them into your email to parents or teens regarding youth ministry or CCD.
- Any other ideas?
QUOTING THE PROPHETS SERIES:
You can find more quotes from the prophets below:
These are timeless verses from the prophets. They’re meant to be proclaimed, announced, shared on social media! Thank you!