Lent gives us a good opportunity to experiment with different types of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. It’s sort of like making New Year’s resolutions, but we can try things that we might not otherwise commit to for a year. Forty days is a long enough period to grow into a new habit while still stretching ourselves as we explore ways God might be inviting us to change. We are a week into Lent now, but it’s not too late to resolve to stretch yourself in the areas of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
Last year our family decided to fast from buying anything new except for groceries and toiletries. (We did have some humorous discussions about what could stand in for toilet paper.) The point was to become more aware of how much we take for granted that Jesus didn’t have or need during his 40 days in the desert. After six weeks of fasting from new things, we discovered that our quality of life didn’t suffer in the least. We realized there was no need to buy a swim parka for our daughter when we knew a former swimmer who didn’t need hers anymore. Our other daughter’s tennis shoes wore out in March. Guess what? Goodwill had some that fit. For the first time, we questioned, “Why buy the package of professional team photos when we already have thousands of photos of our children?” When I went to Costco to stock up on food staples one day, I instinctively went to check out their clothing section until I realized I couldn’t buy anything new, followed by the thought, “We don’t need any more clothes anyway.”
It was a perfect Lent-sized experiment for us. We would never have made it a year without making a new purchase, but it was long enough that it made a lasting impression on all of us. We still slip into consuming more than we need sometimes, but fasting from new purchases last Lent changed us permanently for the better.
For Action: Is there anything you might still want to commit to in the areas of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving this Lent? Why not start today?
To Pray: Lord, may any prayer, fasting, and almsgiving I do make me a more faithful disciple, more committed to loving my neighbor as myself.