Just over one week has passed since we earnestly made our Lenten promises ~ "Lord, in an effort to become more like you I will not... and instead I will..."
How's it going? Have you felt yourself settling into these new practices easily or are they rubbing you like sandpaper? Worse yet, have you failed a time or two and now decided to simply give up?
Throughout the past few years of my own learning to practice Lent I have had all of those reactions. Giving up coffee one year? Total failure. Reading more scripture another year - fifty-fifty. Carrying out my practice this year? An unbelievable outpouring of God's grace. Every time I am confronted with the items from which I have chosen to abstain I have felt a little grace moment in my day. This is not a moment of self-righteous pride as in, "Look at me! I am abstaining and it is hard and I am awesome!" For the first time during Lent each moment of chosen abstinence has elicited a soul-deep gratitude for God's love, grace and sacrifice for me. A little arrow prayer simply shot heavenward from my own mind saying "Thank you for helping me to partake in a small way in your own suffering."
Most of all, staying focused on my fasting has kept me in touch with God. It's like having a timer beeping at random moments during my day where I stop and think of my Heavenly Father. If nothing else this is a worthwhile benefit of practicing Lent. Greater God-consciousness.
The title I chose, 40 Ways in 40 Days, came about because I had no idea what I wanted to do for Lent this year. Originally I thought that rather than making one big sacrifice I would look for 40 different ways in 40 days to practice prayer, almsgiving and fasting. A new offering each day.
So today I am listing the following seven ways to try to incorporate more spiritual renewal throughout Lent. Maybe you are now ready to begin, or to begin again and want to try one or all of the following ideas too.
1. Attend a church service this week. If you already do on Sundays, attend a weekday service.
2. Plant something and watch it bloom around Easter. In a way Lent is like tending to the bud of your spiritual life. Water it (read scripture) and fertilize it everyday (pray) and eventually it will bloom and others will enjoy its beauty. Tulip bulbs take around six weeks to bloom so start today!
3. Do a chore for someone else without mentioning it or waiting for a thank you.
4. Pray for your spouse. Pray with intensity. Pray for the best for him or her. Cover your spouse in prayer.
5. Look at your plate for your next meal, pick the item you love the most and do not eat it.
6. Clear out your closet and donate the items to charity.
7. Choose a scripture you love and memorize it. Repeat it daily for Lent.
Please do not berate yourself if you have somehow failed to follow through on your highest goals for Lent. Instead give it to God and begin anew today. Find one way today to enter into the spiritual practice for Lent.
Linking with Serenity Now