Writer Rebecca Chamaa not only gives something up for Lent but also incorporates a new spiritual practice. Here, she suggests six things you may want to take up for the next 40 days.
According to my pastor, giving up something for Lent is a spiritual practice intended to create a space in our lives that we fill with God. For many years I gave up gossip or chocolate, but when the Lenten season was over, I didn’t feel any closer to God or that I had grown in my relationship with him. I was happy to return to eating chocolate cake, ice cream, bars, cookies, etc., but that didn’t hold any spiritual significance for me.
In the past few years, I’ve not only given up something, but I have also added something to fill the space that the sacrifice has left behind. This year, I am giving up my favourite word game that I play on my phone throughout the day. Giving up this game will create space in the morning, in between meetings, when I’m bored on a Zoom call, while I’m waiting for the doctor or any other time I have a few moments or even an hour to waste.
To fill the space left by not playing the game, I am adding the reading of Lenten devotionals to my life. I’ll read one devotional from a booklet put out by my church in the morning. In the afternoon, I’ll read the book “Give up Worry for Lent,” by Gary Zimak, and in the evening, I will read a free devotional that I downloaded from author Kate Bowler’s website.
If the idea of filling the space up created by your sacrifice with devotionals don’t appeal to you, here are some other ideas:
- Find a thirty-minute sermon on YouTube from a pastor new to you to listen to each night instead of watching television. I like to watch a wide variety of preachers and usually find a few that become my favorites.
- Commit to reading the four gospels over the 40 days of Lent. No matter how many times I hear or read the stories in the New Testament, there is always something new that jumps out to me.
- Start a practice of praise and thanksgiving—each morning when you wake up, list and thank God for five things. Do the same thing before going to sleep at night. My husband and I do this at dinner time.
- Keep a prayer journal for 40 days. Write down your prayers in the morning over coffee or tea, or make time to write them before bed. When Easter arrives, read over your journal entries from the last 40 days and see how God has moved in your life.
- Find ways to be generous. Make generosity a spiritual practice. It’s easy to think of organizations that could use your donations. Still, it’s a little harder to imagine the people in your life who may be lonely or need a personal connection or lift. Send text messages, a card, or make a coffee or lunch date with someone in your life who could be in need.
- Try praying a Psalm each day, or challenge yourself to memorize a verse of scripture each week during the Lenten season.
There are countless ways to deepen your relationship with God. Add power and punch to this season of Lent by giving up and adding simultaneously.