40 Ideas for Lent

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free
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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