Giving up something for Lent is somewhat new for me. We didn’t have a big emphasis on Lenten observation in my childhood church. I would hear of friends giving up some trifle for Lent, but I never understood the meaning behind it.
When I married, my husband would faithfully give up something each Lent. I tried for a few years to give up something in support of his beliefs, but I got caught up in all the rules and exceptions. Fast for the season of Lent, except you can ‘cheat’ on Sundays. No meat on Fridays. I was learning the rules, but was I really getting the point of this Lenten practice?
What is Lent and why do we give up something?
The season of Lent is a preparation for Easter, representing the the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness. It’s a time for Christians to dig deep into their own faith and walk through their own wilderness. It’s a time of repentance, soul-searching, reflection and rededication to faith.
The Lent sacrifice is about giving up something that causes you to sin or leads you further from God, in order to change that behavior over the course of Lent and draw you closer to God in the process.
15 Meaningful Things to Give Up for Lent Idea Sheet
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Does giving up candy or Facebook really draw me closer to God?
While giving up chocolate or soda was an exercise in sacrifice, I didn’t feel closer to God. I was more focused on saying ‘no’ to the thing I’d given up than saying ‘yes’ to the One I wanted to find.
Maybe I’m just not ready to take on fasting as a spiritual discipline. Maybe fasting needs to be something more than just giving up something I don’t eat that much anyway. So, what else could I be doing during this season of Lent to actually grow my faith, test it in the wilderness, lay my heart open to God and rededicate myself to Him in this season?
The past few years, instead of giving up something, I’ve taken on a spiritual discipline. Practicing a spiritual discipline is a form of ‘giving up something,’ yet also a way to do more. You give up some of your time and control and give it to God.
Taking on spiritual disciplines, instead of giving up a treat
The first year I started this, I took on Sabbath as my spiritual discipline. It was a huge shift for me to clear out time for God in my week. As I focused on this practice during Lent, it began to change my routines. I realized the importance of Sabbath and kept much of the discipline in place, even after Easter.
The next year, I felt God calling me to write and start this blog. I didn’t know how I’d have time to do this, but decided for the season of Lent I’d get up extra early to write. The spiritual discipline of giving up time for study, prayer and following God’s direction. I gave up 2 hours of sleep a day to get up and write the words God wanted me to share. As the season of Lent ended, not only had I started this blog and discovered a love for writing, but I also developed a habit of waking early to write. I actually like getting up early now (most days).
This year, I’m taking on the spiritual discipline of prayer. I’m not only writing about prayer in this new “Pray Deep” series, but also practicing these prayer forms daily to grow my own prayer life and deepen my relationship with God.
Will you Pray Deep with me this year for Lent?
So, what are you giving up for Lent? Even if you don’t traditionally do anything for Lent, consider taking on a spiritual discipline this year. Will you join me in praying deep and embark on this journey through prayer?
Start Pray Deep with me this year. The series explores questions about prayer and digs into over 20 forms of prayer. I’ll share my experiences with each form of prayer and provide practical instructions how you can do them, too. You can follow along here on the blog (go to the Pray Deep page for an index of all the posts), print out your own Pray Deep prayer cards, or buy the Pray Deep devotional book for 21 days of focused prayers.
I love the idea of adding something positive rather than taking away. I’ve always wanted to participate in Lent but have yet to actually do it. Thanks for this inspiration, Kathryn! I’m so glad you followed God’s calling to blog :).
Observing Lent is something fairly new for me, too, but I’ve come to appreciate these seasons in the church year to bring different focus to my faith journey. I find Lent is a time to be reflective and refocus your life to walk closer to God. Hope you’ll consider ‘praying deep’ for Lent with me!
I will happily join you for this time of prayer! Thank you for allowing God to use you in leading this prayer focus. It is definitely something I need to do right now as I embark on a new direction in life and ministry. Thanks for including your readers, Blessings!
Glad you’re going to join in this journey of prayer! It’s been really impactful in my own prayer life – and hope it will be for yours too!
Tina M Wright says
I’ve heard of Lent before but had no idea all that it involved. I love the way you took a positive spin on things and decided to add something for Lent instead of focusing on giving something up (although in the end it looks like you accomplished both)! Excited to see how God uses you through the “Pray Deep” series. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your encouragement today, Kathryn! God bless, Tina
I’ve found that focusing on Lent makes Easter more about Jesus than bunnies and eggs. It’s been a way for me to put some discipline into my faith. Hope you’ll come back and check out the ‘Pray Deep’ series!
Holly Barrett says
Kathryn, I needed this post today as I have been thinking and praying about what God would have me do during Lent this year. Sometimes I find it is something He is asking me not to do for a time…and like you, sometimes it’s something He asks me to do in order to develop a new habit or to spend more time with Him. I just haven’t been getting answer so far this year so I’ll be praying over your words today. Thanks!
It’s interesting how He has different requests for each of us, yet all with the same purpose to grow closer to Him. I’m feeling called to do more and also do less – spend more time focused on prayer, yet not praying about my own needs. Praying you get your answer!
We observe lent by giving up all meats and dairy products. Basically by being vegan. Adding your idea to this will be a wonderful idea because that is my desire of my heart but I have been having a problem to discipline myself. Now I subscribe this and I will be happy to follow you. Thank you so much .
That sounds like some major discipline! I have such a hard time giving up food. Glad you’re joining me for Pray Deep! Hope you find some new ways to pray and connect with God in deeper ways.
Barb @ A Life in Balance says
Thank you for contributing to Motivation Monday!
Mary Geisen says
Great post! I grew up giving something up for lent each year and did have a “cheat” day on Sundays. Oh how I loved Sundays. Your perspective is refreshing because it’s being i tune what God wants us for instead of randomly choosing something on our own. I will be praying this weekend to listen for what God would like during this season of lent. Blessings!
It’s been an interesting change of approach for me, too. Almost makes Lent something I look forward to each year – to see how God will grow me through this season of discipline and sacrifice. Praying you hear your own answer.
What a neat idea! I too have never really gotten into the giving up something part, and I could certainly use new habits. Thanks for sharing!
Several years ago a pastor suggested we give thanks during Lent by writing to someone and thanking him/her or them for being a blessing. In thinking about these incidences I am blessed again and hopefully by letting someone else know they have touched my life encourage them. I’m not explaining it very well but hope you get the concept.