I thought it might interest followers of this blog to know what I’m doing for Lent. (Equally it might not interest you at all, in which case feel free to engage in more diverting activities: scrap-booking, reading and watching “Outnumbered” have all done the job of diverting me at one time or another.)

In my family background, Christianity was/is primarily a cultural thing. As kids, we used to give up a luxury like sweets or chocolate for Lent. This sacrifice was to help us remember Jesus’ forty days of fasting in the wilderness. I remember also being told that you might read the Bible during Lent. This possibly sticks in my mind because we didn’t read the Bible at other times of the year at home. The emphasis was on cutting stuff out rather than adding new stuff.

I made the decision to follow Jesus for myself a couple of years ago, and last year I (whisper it) really enjoyed Lent. I followed a devotional that had been produced by my church. By this point I was reading the Bible every day of the year if possible, but the devotional in question was specifically Lent-themed. I decided to limit the amount of time I spent on my iPhone, which has more or less continued and has only been good for my relationship with Freddie. It’s horrid when he has to share me with the stupid phone. I also scaled down a voluntary commitment I’d been involved with which was costing me time with my hubby. The whole thing felt less like forty days of legalistic rule-following, and more like a period of drawing gradually closer to God. Turns out the apostle James had it sussed when he promised ‘Come near to God and he will come near to you’ (James 4:8).

This year, God graciously gave me a Lenty idea well in advance via my friend Amy – to commit to praying for a different friend or family member every day of Lent. A key part of this is that you announce it on Facebook beforehand, so people can message you their prayer requests. Announcing it on FB also makes a public statement that you’re a praying person. (So FB isn’t all bad – it’s very useful for witnessing! Now, just as soon as I can stop Face-stalking people I haven’t seen for years, I’ll have a totally healthy relationship with social networking sites. Yes I will, yes I will!). Then another friend Lucy, who was also present when Amy shared her idea, came up with this fab method for adapting the prayer idea with our children: http://desertmum1.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/lent-prayer-tree-creative-prayer-for-families/ I’m doing this with Freddie too, but the presentation is much sloppier!

We’ll see how it goes…

What about you? Do you “give stuff up” for Lent, or do you “add stuff in”? Do you make sacrifices all year round (caring for someone else, giving time/possessions/money in Jesus’ name) or go deeper with sacrifice/fasting at Lent?


2 thoughts on “Lent

  1. Thanks for the link up! Yes, I like to see Lent (and, for that matter, Advent) as positive times for changing/deepening my relationship with God. Of course sometimes this will mean giving things up which are harmful or just distracting (giving up FB last year has really made me lessen my use of it/need for it over the last year, although I haven’t given up altogether…interesting), but much of the time there are good habits which I feel I need to get into, things I need to ‘add’ into my life, or make time for, and Lent is a great time to start getting into such habits. The prayer idea you mention is one such habit. (It’s only day 1 and already I’ve had an amazing response from the friend I was praying for.) Al has decided not to read any books apart from the Bible (unless preparing talks etc). I like the ’40 acts of kindness’ idea, following similar lines.

    Are you finding the FB-announcement is working in terms of getting prayer requests? I umm-ed and ah-ed about how to communicate my friend-a-day prayer idea with friends and, to be honest, I simply didn’t get round to sending a blanket email or making a FB announcement. But texting the friend in question this morning seemed to work, and be a nice opportunity to make contact too (this friend doesn’t live in York).

  2. Thanks Lucy. I’m glad last year’s Facebook fast had a long-term impact for you. I think my difficulty with how Lent was marked when I was younger was that whatever we did didn’t bear any relation to the rest of the year’s Christian living… so it’s always encouraging to hear of people who’ve adopted a new habit for Lent and found it had had a positive long-term impact one year later!

    The FB announcement generated 3 or 4 prayer requests, all of which I was thrilled to get! I was particularly encouraged that lots of people “liked” my status, even if they didn’t ask for prayer. The “likes” alerted me that these people might be up for me approaching them about prayer. Some of them perhaps didn’t know I was a Christian, I don’t know all their hearts either, but it opens a door. (I normally find Facebook statuses and the “like” feature horribly impersonal and don’t use them much, so it was good to find a positive aspect of these!) I will try to message the people in question on the days I’m praying for them – I agree with you that it’s a great way to make contact!

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