EIGHT "OUT OF THE BOX" IDEAS FOR LENT
Last Wednesday marked the beginning of the 2019 Lenten season, a 40 day (minus Sundays) period of waiting and reflection leading to Easter.
Those of us who grew up in the church may remember meatless meals, extra church services, and an emphasis on prayer during this time.
But for those of us who didn’t grow up with this tradition, Lent is kinda…well…weird.
The whole season is counter-intuitive and counter-cultural; we give up something in order to get more. Say, what?
The idea is that when we remove those things that feed our earthly desires--treats, TV, caffeine, social media--we’re making room for something better. We make room for God.
Is it easy? Not really.
Is it pleasant? Not always.
Is it worth it? Entirely.
When we deny our minds and bodies of those worldly cravings, it creates a dissatisfaction in us. A void. A feeling of want. It’s that moment of discomfort that triggers us to go to God, realizing that we can’t ever truly be satisfied apart from Him.
We try, but we can’t.
He alone is our portion and our cup.
If you need more background on the significance of the season and why we give stuff up, here’s a throwback message from awhile back that really digs into this topic. Give it a listen and see what ya think.
If you’re ready to jump into Lent with some kind of fast but haven’t really figured out “what to do”, we’ve got eight out of the box ideas for you to try this season as you grow closer to God!
1- Give Up Your Fork
Try eating with chopsticks instead of spoons and forks. Crazy, right? It’s a powerful way to remind yourself to slow down and be less driven to consume, consume, consume. Plus, it’s a really fun way to open up conversation with friends and family about your faith and what you’re doing during Lent.
2- Empty Your Cart
Sometimes we don’t realize how much retail therapy we actually indulge in. Over the next 40 days, don’t spend a single cent on anything you don’t actually need. Put down the aroma therapy candles, the fancy gadgets, and that super cute shirt you scored on the clearance rack. See what it’s like to say “no” to unnecessary spending and ask God to guide you instead.
3- Screen-Free Evenings & Weekends
Look, we’re not asking you to start churning your own butter or heat your home with a wood burning stove. We’re just suggesting that designating some serious time away from screens could open up major doors in relationships with family and with Christ for all of us. If Jesus went 40 days in the wilderness, maybe we can survive a month of evenings without electronics.
4- No More Negative Talk
Okay, so, we all have that one person at work who’s a big whiner; it seems they’ve always got something to complain about and it’s a little annoying. But truth be told, most of us struggle with negativity on a fairly regular basis. Sure, you’re not as crabby as Debbie from the HR Department but, now and again, words dripping with disdain escape those lips. What if, for the next 40 days, we zip it, and only speak words that are truthful, beautiful, uplifting, helpful, and kind? This one may be the most challenging to track, but most rewarding for our mental & spiritual health.
5- Do it like Daniel
Tacos, bacon, cheese, carbs…mmmmm. We all love those rich, filling foods but what if God’s got something more satisfying in mind than steak? Check out the Daniel Fast. It’s clean and healthy. Plus, when you push your chair away from the dinner table, wishing for something more “meaty”, you’ll be reminded that now is as good a time as any to do some devotions.
If doing a Daniel Fast is too big of a leap, then put a pin in your snacking. Grabbing a bag of chips out of the vending machine every afternoon at work? Sneaking in some ice cream on the sofa in the evenings? Got a candy stash that’s getting too much attention? Be mindful of your snack-habits and pass them up in favor of prayer.
6- Pop into the Prayer Room
In the same way that you’re more likely to eat cracker jacks and sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” when you’re actually at a ballgame, you’re more likely to focus your thoughts on God when you enter into a prayer room. We’ve set up a space for you to come and hear from the Holy Spirit, away from all the stuff at home and at work that’s competing for your attention. Deny yourself of the desire to be productive and busy. Instead, slow down and be productive in prayer. You can sign up for your spot here.
7- Give Vanity a Vacation
Guys, trying to get the perfect fade on those sideburns? Ladies, spending a bunch of time on that make-up? If you find any part of your identity tied up in your appearance, try stripping back some of your unnecessary grooming and fashion practices. Hygiene is an obvious must but all the extra time and money we spend perfecting our appearance can get out of control. Perhaps it’ll be sticking to simple outfits or settling for the first thing you put on in the morning, rather than trying on a billion outfits. Maybe it’s wearing less make-up and going with the bare essentials of chapstick and mascara. Whatever it looks like for you, Lent is the perfect time to let go and let the Lord be the source for our self-esteem.
8- Pick a Podcast
Usually crank the tunes during workouts, desk work, or cleaning? Instead of listening to those tired favorites from high school (ahem…we know you’ve still got Metallica on a playlist somewhere) pick out a soul-feeding, faith building podcast and fill your brain with awesome stuff to talk about with God!
What are you doing to make room for God over Lent? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!