Lent starts today with Ash Wednesday and concludes on Resurrection (Easter) Sunday. It is a time of fasting and self-denial. It can also be a time of adding new and meaningful disciplines for growth in your Christian life.
Its PURPOSE: To help us to identify with Christ who sacrificed His life for us. To peel away the things that might dull our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. To allow a cleansing of our live to be holy as God has called us to be holy. It’s not about making yourself miserable it seeing who can accomplish the hardest fast. It’s about focusing on God.
10 Areas to Moderate or Abstain Entirely from (Fast) During Lent – Some Suggestions
FOOD – eating healthier
Sweets, meat, bread, only water, 1 meal a day, salt, cheese, (or other favorites and things you might be addicted to: chocolate, diet coke, gum, coffee), all drinks except water
ENTERTAINMENT – finding room for meditation
Facebook, television, radio, movies, sports, political talk shows, your favorite TV show, limit them to 1 hour a day
NOISE – adding silence to your life
Talking on the phone, talking, music, radio, I-pod, talk radio
CONVENIENCE – moving toward simplicity
Car (bike or walk), no elevators, park in the last parking spot
COMFORT – identifying with the poor
Give up your bed (sleep on the floor), your pillow, your shoes (barefoot), hot water, all remotes, all small appliances
EXTRAVAGANCE – focusing outwardly and less on self
Credit cards, eating out, buying anything unless it is just necessary. Don’t buy clothes you don’t need. Give away your favorite clothes someone needy.
HOBBIES – personal pleasures
Give up the time and money consumed on pleasures such as: gaming, hunting, fishing, knitting, golfing, puzzles, photography, etc (alcohol, tobacco, and other vices)
HUMILITY – practicing servanthood
Give up having to have it “your” way and let someone “win” and do it their way.
CREATION – taking responsibility for the environment
Carpool, take the bus/metro or pick up someone else’s trash, begin recycling, take shorter showers.
ASK – seeking help
Ask God what He would want you to give up. If you can’t think of anything ask someone else what they would suggest you give up for Lent.
10 Areas of Addition for the Time of Lent – Some Suggestions
THE WORD – hearing God speak
Spend some extra time reading the Bible or a devotional book without rushing through it
PRAYER – verbalizing to God
Pray out loud. Pray silently throughout the day: for the person ahead of you in line or the first person you think of when you wake up. Pray and read the Bible with a friend or your spouse. Begin mealtime prayers or praying and reading a Bible story at bedtime with your children.
WRITING – putting it on paper
Keep a journal. Write for a half hour every day. Send a note (email, text) of affirmation to a different person each day.
GENEROSITY – giving of your possessions
Find a way to give away something each day. Sponsor a poor child in a developing country. Double tithe your paycheck. Look for ways to be spontaneous.
SERVING – giving of yourself
Offer to watch someone’s kids for a few hours. Wash someone’s car. Shine someone’s shoes. Offer to take someone shopping. Help with yard work, dishes, laundry, ironing, vacuuming, paperwork, — you get the idea.
SPEAKING – intentional communication
Call one person a day and tell them how much they mean to you. Write a note of appreciation.
LISTENING – being fully engaged
Try to really listen to someone without talking about yourself or giving your opinion unless asked. Put down the newspaper, cell phone, or other distractions and actively listen.
WORSHIP – private and corporate
Spend extra time in private worship. Enter into corporate worship with anticipation of a great experience. Sit up front, stay engaged, and participate fully in every part of the worship time.
PRESENCE – time with others
Spend time with someone (on the phone or in person) who is truly lonely.
LOVING YOUR ENEMIES – living a radical faith
Ask God to help you love those who rub you the wrong way.