Lent: What are your practices?

This Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, we enter the season of Lent. Lent is the forty (week) days that precede the celebration of Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial. Often Lent is marked by fasting, both from foods and festivities, and by other acts of penance. Today we perhaps limit these preparations, or possibly combine them into three practices that many still observe. The three traditional practices taken up with renewed vigor during Lent are prayer (justice towards God), fasting (justice towards self), and almsgiving (justice towards neighbor).  However, in modern times, observers give up an action of theirs considered to be a vice, add something that is considered to be able to bring them closer to God, and often give the time or money spent doing that to charitable purposes or organizations. Do any of us still practice prayer, fasting or almsgiving during Lent? Do we need to?

I would be the first to admit that I rarely practice any of the three during Lent more than I do at other times of the year. I’m just trying to make sure everyone else experiences Lent, how can I find time to add a new practice? In all honesty, it seems as though it should be easy to add these practices. So this year I have chosen to be very intentional about adding three practices, or at least enhancing a practice that I already do. This has actually become a discussion topic at our house over the last several days. Are these practices really necessary anymore?

I’m going on record right now to say that I want you to regularly ask me how my practices are going during Lent. I have chosen to give up soda during Lent, spend fifteen more minutes a day in prayer, and to do two volunteer activities at some point during Lent, that I am not already doing. These conversations at home have also prompted other members of the family to set new practices for Lent. However I won’t ‘out’ their personal commitments. I want you to ask me how the fasting is going. I want you to ask me if I have been able to be consistent in my additional prayer practice, and I want you to ask me what new volunteer activities I have added. I want you to hold me accountable for my choices. I want to experience these practices personally, so I can either validate the importance of adding these practices during Lent, or let everyone else “off the hook.”

Anyone who is around me at all will know that giving up soda will be a huge challenge. If you have ever been in a meeting with me, I am usually flanked by a Diet Coke. Sometimes I struggle to get my current prayer life fit into a busy day, and now I’m going to add fifteen more minutes? I will need to find two volunteer opportunities in forty days that do not step on the current activities that I do. I better not wait too long to find something, or I will use the excuse that I didn’t have time. I intentionally chose practices that will nudge me outside my comfort zone. I can hear you all saying, “Good Luck!” 

Finally, who might be willing to join me in a similar experience, so we can process the importance of these practices together? 

 

God, help me to see this holy season of Lent as a time of spiritual renewal,

rather than a time of deprivation.  Motivate me to reach a new level of experiencing Your grace. 

 

~ Eldonna Hazen

 

Posted on February 17, 2015 at 11:33 am in Featured Content.

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