Ten Suggestions for Lent

Lent, a historic part of the Christian calendar, is a season of “letting go” (fasting) and seeking God in humble submission. It is a time for repentance, confession, prayer, abstinence, and sharing our resources with others. It is not a time to simply give up something for the sake of abstinence (e.g., giving up coffee), but to give up something for the sake of replacing it with time with God. Lent is not merely about abstinence but also about replacing that which you are giving up with something positive. The purpose of Lent is not self-improvement but seeking a deeper relationship with God and loving our neighbors.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (February 17) and lasts 44 days, which includes 40 days of fasting (giving up something in order to devote time and energies to God) and four Sundays. On Sundays believers enjoy what they have given up in order to celebrate the joy of the resurrection (so if you have given up coffee, you may enjoy it every Sunday throughout Lent!).

Below are ten suggestions from which you might choose in order to practice Lent during this season.

  1. Give up Starbucks Coffee or caffeine (including Cokes, Pepsis, etc.) and save the money you would have spent in order to give to some charity.
  2. Make a commitment that when you feel the urge to surf the internet, you will replace that with fifteen to thirty minutes of prayer, meditation, reading Scripture, or reading godly material. Instead of surfing, perhaps meditate on Chris Altrock’s 40 days of Lent through praying the prayers of Jesus.
  3. Commit to giving up some sleep by rising fifteen minutes (or more) earlier or going to bed fifteen minutes (or more) later to spend time in prayer, meditation, reading Scripture, or reading godly material. You could read the morning or evening Divine Hours or download them free on I-Tunes.
  4. Give up television altogether or for a specified time each day (e.g., 8:00-9:00pm) and devote that time to a devotional plan of some sort (e.g., reading Scripture according to the plans Dean Barham has offered). Or, sit silently and listen to music for an hour that takes you into the presence of God for meditation and reflection.
  5. Instead of eating out for lunch each day, bag your own lunch; as you prepare your lunch, recite a prayer from memory (e.g., the Lord’s Prayer) and devote the money saved to charity.
  6. If your family was planning a major purchase or if your family regularly spends money on unnecessary daily desires (e.g., eating out, renting movies, etc.), delay doing so until after Lent and use the money you would have spent to save for a charitable donation.
  7. Every day of Lent write a letter or note to a significant person in your life in order to thank them for their presence in your life, or every day during Lent write a note to a person who needs encouragement or blessing, or every day write a letter of amends to people with whom you have had difficulty. This gives up time you would have spent doing something else and replaces it with loving ministry.
  8. For the forty days of Lent, give up time doing something you might normally do to devote to journaling: confess sin, reflect on where God was present in your day, and write a prayer to God.
  9. During the forty days of Lent, journey through the story of Jesus with your children by spending fifteen minutes a day reading the Gospel of Luke together or watching a clip from a movie like “Jesus of Nazareth” in order to talk about what you read or saw.
  10. Take thirty minutes each day to inventory your house: clean the closets, sort through your clothes, etc. Give to others (e.g., Goodwill) what you have not used in the last year.

And, of course, there are many more possibilities.  Do you have any suggestions?

9 Responses to “Ten Suggestions for Lent”

  1.   John Says:

    Give up my own opinions to seek peace with other Christians.

    Give up my own hurts to encourage a hurting other.

    Give up conversation about economics and politics and talk about how good God has been to me.

    Be quiet and listen.

    Give up anger and forgive someone who has wronged me, like that other driver on the way home.

  2.   John Mark Hicks Says:

    Remember Lent is where we give up something we enjoy in our noraml world in order to enjoy God. We should’ve have already given up all the sins. 🙂 Thanks for your suggestions!

  3.   eirenetheou Says:

    The “sins” are by definition pleasurable, something our flesh wants to do; otherwise, we would not do those things. We are not, generally, tempted to do that which we think will harm us. This is, of course, self-deception, or deception in which we all too willingly participate, dependent on our infinite gullibility. Gen 3:1-6 is the textbook case.

    God’s Peace to you.


  4.   John Says:

    I am not that well versed in Lent. I guess we should do it 24/7/365.

  5.   eirenetheou Says:

    When people ask, “How do the Churches of Christ observe Lent?”, i always say, “Among the Churches of Christ it is always Lent, 365 days a year — except for those members for whom every day but Sunday is Fat Tuesday.”

    All seriousness aside, disciples of Jesus are not called to trivial denial of some favorite vice for a few weeks a year in order to feel virtuous and godly. The Lord Jesus says, “If anyone would follow after me, that one must deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” That demand cannot be reduced to a few weeks of inconvenience or even dutiful service from which one may derive an illusion of righteousness.

    i am not a liturgical Christian, but i have spent good time among them what are that, and i have learned some things from them that i needed to know — not all of which they intended to teach me. The calendar of Christian time and season may have much to commend it, especially as it may call us to remember the life and work of Jesus and live it out day by day. Yet i am not convinced that “walking in the way that Jesus walked” can be domesticated and confined to times and seasons. Discipleship is a full-time occupation, not merely an avocation or something to do in the winter.

    God’s Peace to you.


    •   John Mark Hicks Says:


      I truly appreciate that perspective. I am not a liturgical Christian either if one means by that the “seasons” control us. But, on the other hand, I don’t mind using the “seasons” as a tool to enhance and focus various dimensions of discipleship or theological ideas for periods of time. If this entails domestication of discipleship, then I would reject it…and, no doubt, it often has. But it does not necessarily do so.

      Thanks for you thoughts. They are good reminders, and I always appreciate your call to vocational discipleship.

      John Mark

  6.   rich constant Says:

    it really seems to me that we all need to learn to dance to the music of the Trinity’s love as found in the scriptures,as we incorporate in fellowship we learn to harmonize and flow with the music of our lives.
    how we learn to feel the music of gods love is truly a diverse journey and i know i have stepped on a lot of toes in the process of my learning my dance with the father,s son as we all do.so humility with patience becomes a key note that first must be heard….and then nurtured

    thank you and.

    blessings john mark

  7.   Bettye Says:

    In addition to the fasting or “giving up,” I think we should also add something. One day a week, we might spend at a nursing home, reading to the elderly or talking or offering to help them with something. The next week, it might be a childrens’ hospital or a prison. Lent is a good time to take care of His children. As he said, “When you did it for the least of my children, you did it for me.”

  8.   John Mark Hicks Says:

    I think my list contains both giving up and adding, but generally replacing, that is, “instead of doing this, do this.” In any event, it is a personal choice and every one must fit it into their own context, needs and progression toward God.


  1. Hicks' 10 Suggestions For Lent | chrisaltrock.com
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