Six Things To Do Over

Though fasting is one of the most traditional practices over Lent, there are other ways to honor this time. To help you get started, we’ve put together some ideas.    –Written by Catherine Ryan

Lent is a time to prepare your heart for the mystery and majesty of Christ’s death and resurrection that we celebrate on Easter. You’ve probably heard of people giving up something for Lent. Some call it fasting. People may stop eating chocolate or junk food for these 40 days before Easter. Others may step away from social media during that time. Though fasting is one of the most traditional practices over Lent, there are certainly other ways to honor this time. Lent is simply about growing closer to Christ and reflecting on the events that we celebrate on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. So instead of giving up something for Lent, you may decide to add an activity to your day that helps you reflect on these events. As you think about what you might do differently over Lent to help your faith go deeper, consider what may be best for you and your lifestyle. There are many ways to honor the Lenten season. But to help you get started, we’ve put together some ideas. <!–split–>

Here are six practices for Lent that don’t include fasting.

  1. EXERCISE EVERY DAY. I know what you’re thinking … this is 40 days to get spiritually healthy, not physically healthy! But the two can be connected. Exercising requires you to set aside time, which opens a door for you to reflect on God’s goodness while you’re doing physical activity. It doesn’t have to be intense cardio or weightlifting either. It could just be a 20-minute walk around your neighborhood. While you’re exercising, thank God for the gift of your body, your breath, your heart and your life.
  2. MEMORIZE SCRIPTURE. Identify six verses from Scripture and give yourself one week to memorize each, which will take you through all 40 days (six weeks) of Lent. Write each on an index card. Put a card somewhere you’ll see it multiple times per day — on the refrigerator, on your car dash, bathroom mirror, etc. Each time you pass the card, read it and repeat it. By the end of the week, it will hopefully be “written on your heart” (Proverbs 7:3), and you can move on to the next verse.
  3. MEDITATE FOR 15 MINUTES A DAY. Sometimes the quiet moments spent with God — without reading Scripture or even active prayer — can be the most powerful. Spend 15 minutes a day resting in God’s presence and reflecting on the gift of his Son, who died on the cross for our sins. It can be any time of the day that works best for you: first thing in the morning, in the car on the way to work, in the school pickup line or before bed.
  4. VOLUNTEER AT YOUR CHURCH OR A LOCAL NONPROFIT. One of the best ways to grow gratitude for all you’ve been given is by serving those less fortunate. Research shows that people who volunteer experience a boost in their mental health. Think of a ministry that’s close to your heart and contact them to see if they need any help. It could be your church, a local soup kitchen, nursing home, or even an animal shelter. Jesus came to earth to serve. What better way to honor him than by following his example of service?
  5. READ A LENTEN DEVOTIONAL GUIDE. There are dozens of devotional books out there specifically written for the Lenten season. Most include a Scripture reading, devotional thought and prayer of reflection. Find one that speaks to you and read it daily. It might take only five or 10 minutes per day, but a devotional is a great way to get your heart and mind ready for the celebration of Easter.
  6. PRAY FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES AROUND THE WORLD. We know from 1 John 2:2 that because Jesus died on the cross, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (NIV). Lent is recognized in church communities globally. It is a time that unites Christians around the world — which also makes it a great time to pray for our brothers and sisters in other countries.

One way you can easily pray for children and families around the world during Lent is by joining Compassion’s prayer network. Simply visit compassion.com/prayer, where you’ll find daily prayer requests. It only takes a minute to say a quick prayer for one of these requests, but prayer is a powerful way you can make a difference in so many lives. And as you pray, you’ll be reminded of the global connection you have with your brothers and sisters in Christ around the world — during Lent and throughout the year.

Kara Ade, Parish Nurse