“Take up” instead of “give up” this Lent
Commemorating the “forty days and forty nights” when Jesus fasted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:2), Lent is a season of repentance, self-examination and reflection for Christians. The tradition of giving something up for Lent is a practice that many Christians have adopted as a form of fasting. There are, however, many simple ways to incorporate other spiritual practices into daily life over Lent. Instead of giving something up for Lent this year, why not try taking up a new spiritual practice? Check out the suggestions below for some ideas.
Daily prayer is spiritual practice that many people find difficult to maintain. Why not use the 40 days of Lent as an opportunity to establish a habitual prayer practice? Consider combining prayer with an already established part of your daily routine. For example, every time you brush your teeth you could say a short prayer of thanksgiving for your day. Or, you could commit to saying a prayer for a different family member during your daily commute for Lent. Remember: Prayer can happen at any time or in any place, so don’t be afraid to weave short prayers into any part your day!
Daily check in with God:
The “Daily Examen” is a long-standing spiritual practice, championed by Ignatius of Loyola over 400 years ago and still practiced today! It involves spending time at the end of each day reflecting on God’s presence in our daily activities and discerning God’s direction for us. A simple way to do this on your own or with others is to ask: 1. At what moments did you sense God’s presence today? 2. When did it feel like God was far away? After reflecting on these questions, lift up one feature from your day in prayer. Consider keeping a journal of your reflections so that on Easter you can look back over your Lenten journey. For more details about the daily examen, click here for a resource made by PC(USA).
Choosing to eat or cook simple meals, such as rice and beans, during Lent is a good alternative to fasting. Why not choose one day a week during Lent to eat only basic, inexpensive food and donate the money you save to Presbyterian World Service & Development’s farming, food security, and/or fresh water programs? Follow this link to learn more about PWS&D. Follow this link for rice and beans recipes from around the world.
The biblical practice of “almsgiving”—giving food or goods to those in need—is a good practice for Christians year round, but has traditionally been emphasized during Lent. Consider making yourself an offering box (click here for kid-friendly ideas of how to do this) and put your extra change in the box at the end of each day. Or, choose one food item from your pantry each day to put in a cardboard box. At the end of Lent, donate your box of money or food to charity. Check out the Presbyterian Church in Canada’s Gifts of Change catalogue for different ways that your monetary donation can make a difference. presbyterian.