Lenten Ideas to Help Us Focus on and Become More Like Jesus
I dabble in Lent. For the past 8 years I’ve done various things: given something up (social media, unnecessary spending), added something (usually a spiritual discipline), donated (money and items) to a good cause, and prayed more. I’m not of a liturgical bent, so I don’t really know what I am doing.
I never did well at fasting. I never spent extra time in confession. And come to think of it, many of my other attempts were also lame.
But I did these things to prepare myself for Easter. And while they were done imperfectly and probably incorrectly, I did achieve my goal. By the time Easter came around, I was a little more focused on the Redeemer of my soul, Jesus. My thoughts & actions were a little more like His.
Here is a cool video about Lent. It is only 1 minute 15 seconds. “Lent is not a list of Catholic Resolutions nor is it a Catholic Endurance Test. . . . It is a campaign for holiness. Instead of giving up chocolate, how about giving up sin.” OUCH!
This year I am keeping it simple. The idea generator in me wants to add a bunch of things to this list. But I typically over-estimate my available time, energy, and resources. So there are only 3 things on my list.
(1) I am giving up negativity in all forms: pessimism . . . uncalled for anger . . . criticism . . . complaining . . . worry . . . gossip . . . impatience . . . swearing . . . mean talk . . . pride . . . discouragement . . . hyper independence . . . and victim- and scarcity-thinking. . . . I want to be purposeful about my thoughts and about what comes out of my mouth.
I don’t normally have a problem with negativity, but I think these next 40 days will show how well I do or don’t do in this area.
(2) I am adding in Gratitude. I will write down one thing I am grateful for every day. And I want to be more purposeful abut looking for God’s presence in my life and in the world. I am sure this will give me many things to write on my gratitude list.
(3) I will read only about Jesus. I want my thoughts to be more focused on Him. Right now I have the following books in mind.
- The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey
- The Jesus Storybook Bible:Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones
- Jesus:The Greatest Life of All by Charles Swindoll
- The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). This link has a reading plan.
Here are some other Lent ideas. As I get the time and energy, I will pop into the following links and try one or two of their ideas.
40 Days of Prayer Doodling. This is a visual, concrete,and different way to pray.
40 Days of Signs & Symbols. Each day a different sign or symbol from Christian history or art and its meaning will be posted. Your challenge is to consider its meaning for you today OR post a picture of something you saw today with a similar meaning OR share a thought as you reflect on this symbol.
40 Ideas for Lent. Rachel Held Evans has compiled a list of 40 ideas to help us in this season of reflection, penitence, and preparation. I especially like how she starts off the list with 5 questions. If nothing else, do the 5 questions.
A Lent Where #BlackLivesMatter: 10 Ideas for Black History Month and the White Church. Use the Lenten season to truly immerse yourself in Black history and the current reality of people of color… if a white congregation has truly observed Black History month, then it will have naturally found itself wading, likely deeper than ever before, into the themes of Lent, that season of self-examination and repentance.
Declutter 40 Bags. Focus on getting the unnecessary stuff out in one spot per day. Don’t go nuts and tackle five spots because you want to prove something. Don’t get all bummed out because you missed a day (or ten). Just focus on one. spot. per. day.
Do Lent Generously. 55,000+ people are doing 40 days of giving back, doing good and living generously.
An infographic list of 20 odd ideas for teens (or anyone really).
Lenten Wilderness Meditation Practice. Every day for 40 days, we invite you to spend 10-20 minutes OUTSIDE in prayer/meditation/just being (rain or shine)!
Your Turn . . .
- If you’re participating in Lent this year, what will it look like?
- Have you tried any of the above ideas?
- What would you add to the list?
Related Posts . . . Read about my 1st Ash Wednesday here.
- 3 Reasons to Celebrate Lent
- Ash Wednesday Quiz
- Lenten Reflection: Who Am I?
- Two Sentences About Lent