40 Ideas for Lent (2012)

'Candle' photo (c) 2011, Armin Vogel - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Believe it or not, Lent begins next week!

As has become a tradition here on the blog, I’ve compiled a list of 40 ideas that I hope will help you make the most of this season of reflection, penitence, and preparation. Some ideas are repeated from last year, others are updated, and others are brand new. Please feel free to add your own ideas and plans to the comment section. 

10 Questions to Ask Yourself:

1. When I wake up on Resurrection Sunday morning, how will I be different? 
2. Is there a habit or sin in my life that repeatedly gets in the way of loving God with my whole heart or loving my neighbor as myself? How do I address that habit over the next 40 days?
3. Is there anyone in my life from whom I need to ask forgiveness or pursue reconciliation? 
4. What practical steps can I take to carve out time for daily contemplation? 
5. What spiritual discipline do I need to improve upon or want to try? 
6. What are some things in my life that I tell myself I need but I don’t? Can I give one or two of them up for 40 days? 
7. Why am I giving this particular thing up? How does giving it up draw me closer to God and prepare me for Easter? 
8. What am I going to tell myself when self-denial gets hard? 
9. Is it necessary/helpful for me to share the nature my fast with others or should I keep it private?
10. What do the ashes mean to me this year? What  does baptism mean to me this year? 

10 Book Recommendations:

1. A Place at the Table: 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor by Chris Seay 
2. 40 Days of Living the Jesus Creed by Scot McKnight 
3. Lectio Divina Bible Study: Learning to Pray in Scripture by Stephen J. Binz
4. Eastertide: Prayers for Lent Through Easter by Phyllis Tickle (link fixed)
5. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp 
6. A Book of Hours by Thomas Merton 
7. Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter (Orbis Books)
8. The "30 Days With a Great Spiritual Teachers" Series (I've used, and enjoyed,  Julian of Norwich,Teresa of Avila, and Therese of Lisieux)
9. Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ by Dallas Willard
10. Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent by Richard Rohr 

10  Disciplines, Fasts, and Rituals:

1. Pray the offices for 40 days. The Daily Office, (or the Divine Hours), consists of four times of prayer each day: morning prayers (Matins/Laudes), midday prayers (Sext), evening prayers (Vespers), nighttime prayers (Compline). I love praying the hours, and for Lent this year, I’d like to try to get into a more consistent schedule, at least sticking to morning and evening prayers, no matter what. If it’s your first time praying the hours, I recommend using Phyllis Tickle’s The Divine Hours. If you’re looking to add something new to your prayer schedule, I recommend A Book of Hours by Thomas or Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and Enuma Okoro. 

2. Institute a Way of Light wreath or an Easter Tree (via Ann Voskamp)
 

3. Eat and drink like the poor for 40 days. Then donate the money you save on groceries to a charity or project that serves the poor in concrete ways. This is the challenge offered by Chris Seay in his new book,A Place at the Table. Chris is teaming up with Compassion International and Living Water for this project, and you can learn more on his Web site

4. Take the 40 Days of Water challenge from Blood: Water Mission to help bring clean water to Uganda. Give up all beverages except for water for the 40 days of Lent 2012 and donate the money you save to Blood: Water Mission. They have a great Web site through which you can track your progress and learn more. 

5. Traditionally, Christians abstained from eating meat during Lent, so consider joining millions of Christians around the world in this fast. It’s a great way to feel connected to the historical, worldwide church. 
 

6. Spend a weekend at a monastery. It sounds crazy, but I spent three days at St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Alabama as part of my “biblical womanhood” project last year, and it was one of the most meaningful times of prayer and contemplation I’ve ever experienced. There are dozens of Benedictine and Trappist monasteries around the country that open their doors to overnight guests, usually at very inexpensive rates. Just be sure to contact the monastery ahead of time to inquire about their guest services. (And remember to be respectful of the silence and prayer schedule while you are there. Many monks eat in their meals in silence...so don’t go expecting to chat it up during lunchtime!) 

7. Commit to memorizing a significant portion of Scripture, like the Sermon on the Mount, or Isaiah 58, or (one of my favorites) 1 John 4. 
 

8. Unplug—TV, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, etc. This is perhaps the single best way to carve out some extra time in your day for prayer and meditation. 

9. Commit to 40 days of praying for your enemies. And I don’t mean ruminating over all they have done wrong and praying that they will change, but praying that they will be blessed, that they will find health and peace and grace, that they will come to know Jesus or experience the love of Christ more fully. (Does anyone know of a good resources on how to do this well? If so, please leave a note in the comment section.)

10. Get outside! Commit to spending at least 20 minutes a day outside – walking, meditating, taking pictures, journaling. The transition from winter to springtime provides so many beautiful,  tangible reminders of the significance of hope and rebirth in the Christian faith. 

10 Meditations:

1. Psalm 51
2. Psalm 139
3. Isaiah 58
4. The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12)
5. The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13
6. Litany of Penitence (You can find another version in the Book of Common Prayer - I love this litany!)
7. Litany of Humility 
8. Prayer of St. Francis 
9. Penitential Prayer of St. Augustine 
10. This one, from Thomas Merton: 

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, 
and the fact that I think that I am following your will 
does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always, 
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me, 
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone
.

Please add your own ideas and plans to the list! I always love reading the comments after this one.

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40 Ideas for Lent

Candle Lightphoto © 2010 Michele Mischitelli | more info (via: Wylio)

...revised and updated from last year!

10 Questions to Ask Yourself:

1. When I wake up on Resurrection Sunday morning, how will I be different
2. Is there a habit or sin in my life that repeatedly gets in the way of loving God with my whole heart or loving my neighbor as myself? How do I address that habit over the next 40 days?
3. Is there anyone in my life from whom I need to ask forgiveness or pursue reconciliation? 
4. What practical steps can I take to carve out time for daily contemplation? 
5. What spiritual discipline do I need to improve upon or want to try? 
6. What are some things in my life that I tell myself I need but I don’t? 
7. Why am I giving this particular thing up? How does giving it up draw me closer to God and prepare me for Easter? 
8. What am I going to tell myself when self-denial gets hard? 
9. Is it necessary/helpful for me to share the nature my fast with others or should I keep it private?
10. What do the ashes mean to me this year? 

10 Book Recommendations:

1. Common Prayer by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and Enuma Okoro
2. 40 Days of Living the Jesus Creed by Scot McKnight 
3. Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
4. Facing East by Frederica Matthews-Green
5. The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle
6. A Book of Hours by Thomas Merton 
7. A Gift For God: Prayers and Meditations by Mother Teresa
8.  One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp 
9.  Show Me the Way: Daily Lenten Readings by Henry J.M. Nouwen
10.  A Circle of Quiet Madeleine L’Engle 

5 Rituals:

1. Attend an Ash Wednesday service at a nearby Catholic, Anglican, or Lutheran church. (Ash Wednesday services are becoming more popular among other protestant and evangelical denominations as well.)
2. Institute a Way of Light wreath or an Easter Tree (I love Ann Voskamp’s photos and ideas for these!) 
3. Practice the daily office for 40 days. Common Prayer includes daily prayers. 
4. Choose a saint or a Christian you deeply admire to “guide” you through the Lenten period. (Consider St. Francis of Assisi, Mother Teresa, or St. Teresa of Avila). In addition to studying her work and meditating on her prayers, learn about her life. Journal through the experience. 
5. Incorporate the color purple into your home, office, and church. A simple purple candle or orchid or note card with a verse can remind you of the season and help keep you focused. 

5 Fasts:

1. Choose to make water your only beverage for 40 days to help Blood:Water Mission provide clean water for people in Africa who don't have a choice. Check out Forty Days of Water for more info. 
2. Traditionally, Christians abstained from eating meat during Lent, so consider joining millions of fellow Christ-followers around the world in this fast.   
3.  Give up eating out for 40 days and donate the money you save to The Christian Women’s Job Corp in Nashville. My sister works full-time for this organization, so I can personally vouch for the fact that the money will be used wisely and lovingly! 
4. Do a 40-day purge of all your excess stuff and donate the best of it to Goodwill or a local thrift store that benefits your neighbors. 
5. Unplug—TV, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, etc. This is perhaps the single best way to carve out some extra time in your day for prayer and meditation. 

10 Mediations:

1. Psalm 51
2. Psalm 139
3. Isaiah 58
4. The Beattitudes (Matthew 5:3-12)
5. The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) 
6. Litany of Penitence 
7. Litany of Humility 
8. Prayer of St. Francis 
9. Penitential Prayer of St. Augustine 
10. Consider reading the Sermon on the Mount (alternating between Matthew’s account and Luke’s account) every day for the next 40 days.

What approach do you take to the season of Lent? What is its purpose in your life? Do you have any additional resources, ideas, or links to share?

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http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/40-ideas-for-lent-2011

Comment Policy: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are constantly negative or a general ass, troll, or hater, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us.

40 Ideas for Lent

As I’ve been researching the season of Lent over the past few weeks, I’ve come to realize that Lent is about so much more than just "giving something up."  It’s about repentance, preparation, reflection, discipline, self-denial, and reevaluation. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what this means for me, and if you are too, here are 40 ideas to get you started:

10 Questions to Ask Yourself

1. When I wake up on Resurrection Sunday morning, how will I be different? 
2. From what do I need to repent? 
3. Is there one particular sin in my life that repeatedly gets in the way of loving God with my whole heart or loving my neighbor as myself? How do I address that sin over the next 40 days?
4. Is there anyone in my life from whom I need to ask forgiveness or pursue reconciliation? 
5. What distractions most commonly interfere with my time in prayer/Scripture?
6. What spiritual discipline do I need to improve upon or want to try? 
7. What are some things in my life that I tell myself I need but I don’t? 
8. Why am I giving this particular thing up? How does giving it up draw me closer to God and prepare me for Easter? 
9. What am I going to tell myself when self-denial gets hard? 
10. Is it necessary/helpful for me to share the nature my fast with others or should I keep it private?

10 Book Recommendations  

1. 40 Days of Living the Jesus Creed by Scot McKnight 
2. Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
3. The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
4. The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle
5. The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
6. A Gift For God: Prayers and Meditations by Mother Teresa
7. The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns 
8. Following Jesus by NT Wright 
9. The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard
10. The Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross 

10 Creative Ways to Give Up AND Give Back 

1. Choose to make water your only beverage for 40 Days between February 17 - April 3 to help Blood:Water Mission provide clean water for people in Africa who don't have a choice. Check outForty Days of Water for more info.  
2. Eat porridge for a day (or for 40 days!) and host a Broken Bread hunger meal to raise awareness about hunger. 
3. Give up eating out for 40 days and donate the money you save to The Christian Women’s Job Corp in Nashville. My sister works full-time for this organization, so I can personally vouch for the fact that the money will be used wisely and lovingly! 
4. Do a 40-day purge of all your excess stuff and donate the best of it to Goodwill or a local thrift store that benefits the needy in your community. 
5. If you are giving up social networking (like Facebook and Twitter), commit the next 40 days to getting to know your neighbors better and meeting any needs you perceive. 
6. Ladies – Give up your favorite beauty products for a month and loan the money you save to an entrepreneur on Kiva.
7. If you are really brave, try living on $2 a day for 40 days, the way millions of families around the world live every day.
8. Give up your favorite little luxury purchases (chocolate, iTunes, magazines, books, shoes, specialty coffee, electronic gadgets, etc.) and send the money you save to an organization that provides help to the victims of the Haitian earthquake. 
9. Give up your Saturday mornings for 40 days and volunteer at a local soup kitchen. 
10. Become a "ringleader" for Take This Ring.   

10 Mediations

1. Psalm 51
2. Psalm 139
3. Isaiah 58
4. The Beattitudes (Matthew 5:3-12)
5. The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) 
6. Litany of Penitence 
7. Litany of Humility 
8. Prayer of St. Francis 
9. Penitential Prayer of St. Augustine 
10. Consider reading the Sermon on the Mount (alternating between Matthew’s account and Luke’s account) every day for the next 40 days.

What approach do you take to the season of Lent? What is its purpose in your life? Do you have any additional resources, ideas, or links to share?

(Note: I recently decided to abstain from asking people what they intend to “give up” (specifically) for Lent and also from sharing (specifically) how I intend to observe the season. If you would like to volunteer this information here, that is totally fine; but please don’t feel like you must.)

comments

http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/40ideas-lent

Comment Policy: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are constantly negative or a general ass, troll, or hater, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us.