No matter how many times I give up chocolate for Lent, it’s still a challenge. But lately I’ve been feeling like I need to stretch myself a little more. In fact, I confided in my pastor that sometimes I find myself “going through the motions” in my spiritual life. And you know what he told me? He said I needed to “shake things up a bit.” He said that when we start feeling distracted or disconnected in our faith, then it’s time to dig a little deeper. Time to try something different to draw closer to Christ.
So, in the interest of shaking things up, here are a few unusual ideas for Lent. And, no, I’m not committing to all of them myself this season. I’m taking on just a few of these ideas. But I thought I’d share my brainstorm with you – in case you are looking to dig deeper in your faith in a different way.
Seven Unusual Ideas for Lent
1. Pray for 40 people. Make a list of 40 people you want to pray for. Commit to praying 40 minutes a day for one person per day. That’s actually a really long time for me to pray, so I won’t attempt to do it all at once. I’ll probably break it into four different sessions of 10 minutes. And one of those sessions might be a written prayer in my journal – or even a letter to that person to let them know I’m praying for them.
2. Go meatless for 40 days. I’ve always thought I had it easy during Lent because it’s no big deal for me to fast from meat on Fridays. I really don’t eat much meat – I don’t eat red meat at all, but occasionally I eat chicken or turkey. But what if – and I’m not making a commitment here – but what if I fasted from all meat for Lent. Would that be any more of a sacrifice? What if I avoided all animal products, including fish, dairy and eggs? That would be a challenge. Something to consider. What kind of change in your diet would stretch you? (If you’re fasting from meat, I found a bunch of meatless recipes here from CRS Rice Bowl!)
3. Go on a digital fast. This is something I probably need to do, but I’m not ready to take on this year. I’ve been using Rescue Time to track my productivity and have been shocked to discover that I spend between 4 and 7 hours a week on social media! And that’s just on my desktop – it doesn’t include the time I check Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter on my mobile. Clearly, I have some work to do in this arena. If I could fast from social media, imagine how much time I would have to spend with my family, read the Bible, exercise or even take a nap! Maybe next year…
4. Spread the word. Lent is typically a time to go inward – to examine our own spiritual walk. But as Christians we are called to evangelize and to share our journey with others. So why not make a commitment to share the word of God with 40 people during Lent. Or, if you’re not planning to go on a digital fast, then here’s a great way to have fun while sharing your faith. Check out the Lenten Photo a Day Challenge on Instagram and Pinterest! Or try this Lenten Photo Challenge and you might win an Easter basket from CRS Fair Trade.
5. Give a little every day. The Bible tells us it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). But just like my prayer life, my giving habits tend to grow stale over time. Lent is the perfect season to stretch myself when it comes to almsgiving. What if I tried EVERY DAY during Lent to give something of mine to enrich the lives of others? This might mean going through a closet to donate clothes or buying a meal for a homeless person.
6. Write your way through Lent by creating a spiritual journal. This is actually a practice I’ve used for many years, but it may be new to you. There is something about writing my prayers that makes them more powerful. If you need help getting started, try these journal writing prompts for Lent.
7. Create a spiritual vision board. This is another favorite activity of mine. I typically make a spiritual vision board at the start of the new year. But if you haven’t created one, Lent is a beautiful time to do so. You can even choose a scripture verse to guide you through Lent. Then capture your prayers and commitments on a vision board. I made a little video here to help you get started.
I’m excited to shake things up a bit this Lent! In fact, I’ve even discovered a new twist on an old tradition. I grew up giving a little every day with the CRS Rice Bowl – and my children are doing that now. But I’m also using the new CRS Rice Bowl app on my phone to track my Lenten progress, find meatless recipes and read daily reflections. You can download the CRS Rice Bowl app for free here.
How are you observing Lent? Please share your unusual (or traditional!) ideas with me here so I can support you and pray for you this season.