Spiritual Practices for Lent
The season of Lent is a 40-day journey in which we are preparing to draw close to the mystery of Easter. We seek to align ourselves with Christ as we move through the wilderness and simplicity of the everyday, toward the mess and heartbreak of the cross, until we finally reach the glory of the resurrection. As a means of preparation, Christians engage spiritual practices. Historically, these practices include generosity, prayer, and fasting. People sometimes talk about what they are “giving up” for lent as the practice of fasting extends beyond basic food to certain vices like sugary candies, sodas, etc. I once had a friend who gave up the use of mirrors during Lent in order to curb vanity.
These sacred practices aren’t intended to be merely a means to making ourselves suffer for suffering’s sake. Rather, the heart of these practices is to reflect the spirit of wilderness – in which there is plenty of open space to become aware…of God, of ourselves, and of others. Spiritual practices help us to clear space so that we can uncover what is already here but what we often miss. We say “no” to certain things (things that distract or draw us away from God or this awareness) in order that we would be able to say “yes” to that which is of God. Sometimes that means that instead of “giving up” something, people can “take on” a spiritual practice that supports this journey. This doesn’t mean you should try to add one more thing into an already packed personal schedule or the life-giving practice will quickly turn to a burden you resent. Most likely, you WILL have to surrender something that takes your time but which is not life-giving…for a time (this doesn’t have to be forever, y’all) in order to make space for something else.
Here are a few things you might consider taking on as a spiritual practice for the next 6 weeks.
Walking Prayer – go out for a silent walk (15-30 minutes maybe? no headphones or distractions), and just listen and watch for God. Notice what’s around you. Appreciate the beauty of spring buds making their way out from winter sleep. Don’t stress about coming up with something to “say to God” or “hearing from God”, but walk with a heart of openness to whatever comes. Perhaps offer a prayer for your neighbors, the houses and people you pass along the way.
Meditation – basically the same as walking prayer, but sitting.
Photo Challenge - Post and tag a photo that captures or responds to the word of the week. Then/or come to the Tuesday Potluck Discussion (7PM at the church) to wrestle with these words and their meaning in community.
Reading the bible – take home the bulletin insert each Sunday with the week’s scripture and continue to read it throughout the week. Give yourself a few minutes of silence after reading. Approach the text with a spirit of curiosity for whatever God wants to reveal to you with each reading. Perhaps you’ll be surprised by how the same text can offer new things over time.
Generosity – this can take several forms: from clearing 5 items from your home each week to donate, to setting aside your usual coffee budget and instead giving that money to a charity or cause you care about.
Fasting – fasting can be understood and practiced in a number of ways. It doesn’t just been not eating any food all day (and for those who have a history of eating disorders, this would be an unhealthy practice), but perhaps you remove anything that isn’t seasonal or local to be more attuned to the environment. Perhaps this practice of withdrawal would serve you best as a fast from digital/social media.
Intentions – receive a brief daily intention from LEAD that helps set the tone for your day.
Example: Day 1 – New Starts –
I intend to live this day with all the curiosity and imagination that God gave me.
I will start this time of intentions by noticing new starts. The first snowflake of a shower? The tip of a bud poking through the soil? The first paragraph of a book? The first “hello” with a new person?
I intend to live this day with God. Psalms 51-God, make a fresh start in me.
I intend to share it.
How will I share this day?
Start a new healthy habit?
Start a new friendship?
Start something helpful!
For more info and to subscribe, visit: https://waytolead.org/lent-intentions-2019/
Reflect – the ancient practice of Ignatius Examen is a tool for looking back at your day and noticing where God has been present and at work, and recognizing things about yourself as well. For links with this and a bunch of other reflective practices, click here - https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/lent
For families & For Those Who Enjoy Crafts: A DIY Garland Daily Devotional -
You can click here to download a PDF that you can print, cut out, and assemble to make something like the one in the picture. Thanks to Pastor Carolyn Albert Donovan at Peace Lutheran in Austin for this wonderful resource. Each leaf has a suggested faith practice on it.
For even more ideas and info on practices, go to https://waytolead.org/portfolio-item/spiritual-practices/
Do you have another practice you’re taking on or have engaged in the past that you’ve found meaningful? Share on our Facebook page.
Just remember, these aren’t New Year’s resolutions or one more thing to feel guilty about not doing perfectly, these are tools to enrich our faith for a particular time. Blessings to you and prayers for a meaningful journey during this season of Lent.