The season of Lent arrives this year on February 13th which is also known as Ash Wednesday. There are some pretty good resources online which explain both Ash Wednesday and Lent. Many people try to give something up for Lent and may wonder what to do.
I’m always asked about this and so here is my Lent FAQ for you!
If I give something up, can I do it on Sundays during Lent?
Sundays are not actually part of the forty days of Lent. Some people choose to discipline themselves for the entire period and some give themselves a grace period on Sundays. It may depend on what you choose and how hard it is to go “cold turkey”. I try to include Sundays in my discipline but it is between you and God.
What are things that are helpful to give up?
When I've talked about this with the youth, there is always one person who says that he or she is giving up broccoli. I try to make it clear that it should be a sacrifice. It shouldn't be easy to do. Some people I know have given up their smart phones, texting, television, gaming, Sonic, Starbucks and the internet (all different people). I've given up sweets (including pop) many times before. One year I gave up jalapeno peppers and another year, I gave up beef (both these were tougher than sweets for me). I've given up eating anything after dinner which is difficult for those who like to snack. I've fasted on Fridays. I always anticipate Easter!
What about fasting?
Fasting can be done all day long or it can be done only during daylight hours. It can be the fast of a single meal per day. Some put the proceeds of what they spend on lunch toward a ministry dealing with hunger. I don’t advise children or youth to fast more than a meal and I encourage anyone fasting to drink milk or juice during the day.
Can I add something instead of giving something up?
Certainly. A daily prayer routine is a great thing to add. Praying for something specific each day can be helpful. I once took on reading one of John Wesley’s sermons each day. I will be blogging every day through Easter and we will try to get through the entire Gospel of Luke so following this blog might be something you would like to do daily during Lent. I will also be offering a weekly Bible study on Elijah this year on Sunday nights and Wednesday mornings at the church.
How does this improve my relationship with God?
This is the key question. Whatever you do – whether giving something up or taking something on – it should deepen or strengthen you spiritually. Giving something up is not just to annoy you and make you hate Lent! When we experience a craving, we are to be reminded of God’s love for us and what Jesus suffered on the cross. It allows us to remember that we are more than physical beings. It also is to remind us that there are some in the world who do not eat daily. It should strengthen your love of God and neighbor!
There are a few of the basics - I hope you have a meaningful Lenten season this year!