My Lent prayer for Pakistan
I pray to God to guide our nation's leaders to help us grow tolerant of each other's faiths.
This year, Lent began on March 9 for Christians. Lent is a period of fasting leading up to the feast of Easter, recalling Jesus' 40 day fast in the wilderness, where he had to struggle with hunger, thirst and the temptations of the devil.
In Catholic churches, ashes in the shape of the Cross are applied on the foreheads of all Christians. It is a symbol that we are from "dust and to dust you shall return" (Genesis 3:19). It reminds us that God created everything and no one has superiority over Him.
Through these 40 days of lent, Christians should give up food and eat only one full meal in a day. As clearly mentioned in the Bible, Luke 4:1-2:
1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 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 Bible also instructs not to make faces or look sad to show other people you are fasting but instead be contented and while praying, go inside the room and lock the door. So that it is noticed only by the Father in heaven who will give the reward.
With this we learn to control our material excesses and achieve greater self-discipline in life. This teaches us self-denial, repentance and conversion. The few basic tasks that help our spirituality grow during the season of lent are fasting, prayer, regular reading of the Scriptures, attending worship services and almsgiving.
The final week of lent is the time of preparation for the holy days, which include Palm Sunday, Jesus’ Triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when people greeted the prophet and waved palm leaves. To celebrate this day, palms and palm leaves are distributed after the mass at Church.
Holy Thursday is the remembrance of Jesus’ sharing last supper with the disciples. Good Friday, the crucifixion of Jesus, is the day of abstinence, that helps Christians reflect on Jesus’ endless love for us.
On Easter Sunday we celebrate our salvation and resurrection of Jesus Christ after three days from the dead thus, marking Christ’s victory over evil.
This year on Lent
Dear brothers and sisters, as we fast through this season of Lent, I believe that great victories can be won. The assassination of the Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti is an illustration of religious intolerance that is creeping into the roots of Pakistan.
We need to realise that our house will not collapse if we build it upon a rock rather than upon the sand. Let us remember how bitterly our freedom was won and the sacrifices that were made by our forefathers to create Pakistan.
But are we paying the price for the liberty that we fought for?
Now is the time when voices must emerge or else we will be forced to mourn the day when there is no sign of any white in our flags.
Let us all agree at least on this that the same sun gives me light as it does to you; that I see the same stars as you, I drink the same water as you, and I like the same meat as you.
Believe it or not, mankind is one.
Here is my prayer for our country:
"O God of our lives, You are worthy of majesty, honor, and praise. We come before You to ask for Your forgiveness. Your almighty hand had blessed us with this land, but today, we are losing our spiritual equilibrium.
Lord, I lift up our nations’ leaders to you. Please guide and direct them. Our nation is in great need of Your mercy. Be our strength in this time of trouble and open our eyes to restore the founding principles we had set together. Help us to share each other’s faith and bless us all with more desire to know each other better.
I ask in the name of Him who is above all, Lord our God.