Last year was my first time observing Lent by “giving something up.” Throughout the years, I was vaguely aware that Christians from other denominations participated in some sort of fasting during the 40 days that led up to Easter. I always thought this was strange and unnecessarily hard: why wouldn’t everyone just skip to the celebration of Easter? I wished them well, and didn’t stop to consider what value this practice might have in my own life.
Over time, as I learned more and more about the significance of Lent, I became open to the idea of participating in this church tradition.
What is Lent, anyway?
Lent is part of the liturgical calendar. It’s the forty days leading up to Easter and commemorates the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness, preparing for his ministry. Lent is typically a time we focus on prayer, fasting, and giving.
During these forty days, many Christians will commit to giving up or fasting from some daily luxury like coffee or sugar. In doing so, the Easter celebration is all the more anticipated and enjoyed. When we willingly try to identify with Jesus’ suffering, observing Lent and the special days of Holy Week, Easter Sunday dawns all the brighter.
My turn to be challenged
Last year I was challenged by Tsh Oxenreider to give something up for Lent AND add a spiritual practice in its place. In this way, we would be intentionally growing closer to God. I thought about the routines and habits of my days, and I decided to give up my parking spot for Lent.
You see, there are no school buses in our district. My boys’ school is in a residential neighborhood and the tiny parking lot is only for the teachers. So everyday around 2:30, dozens of cars are parked on side streets so we can pick up our kids.
I usually leave my house at 2:05, even though we live five minutes away, so that I can park nice and close. Then I usually read for 30 minutes while I wait for the school bell.
So for Lent, I gave up my prime parking space. I still left at 2:05, but I parked in a lot across the street from my house until the bell was about to ring. And I added a spiritual discipline—I used those 20-30 minutes to sit silently and invite God to speak to me.
This was not a perfect fast for Lent because I only practiced it on weekdays when the boys had school. But it was a great way for a first-timer like me to participate.
What happened in the silent car
I discovered that it’s easier to quiet the noise around me than it is to quiet the noise within me (I wish I’d known about the prayer of recollection at the time.) I wanted to create the space in which the Holy Spirit could speak to me and, in that regard, I was successful. But I couldn’t actually make God speak.
There were no grand revelations, no clarity gained, no divine ‘aha!’ moments.
There was one day I remember when I was able to lean into my internal silence. God didn’t say anything to me but instead I had this feeling of being loved. I received this inner mental image of being held, and it was wonderful.
I could point to my apparent lack of outcomes as evidence of a failed experiment. But as Jen Pollock Michel writes in her book Habits of Faith: “faith may have as much to do with habits as epiphanies.”
What happened over the course of last year’s Lent was that I cultivated a habit of silence and solitude that I still practice now (from my prime parking spot for school pick-up!)
Which new spiritual habit do you need?
Anyone who has read books by productivity gurus (like the popular Atomic Habits by James Clear) can tell you that habits shape us. Much attention is given to our habits of exercise, nutrition, and productivity. But our spiritual growth depends on our habits as well. Our faith is formed by the repeated steps we take to practice becoming like Jesus.
This isn’t to place a divine guilt trip on anyone who isn’t doing a 30-minute quiet time in the early hours of the morning. Rather, this is an invitation to consider the habits of faith you already have in place and to challenge you this Lent (Feb. 22nd – Apr. 2nd) to engage in a new spiritual practice as a way to connect more deeply with God.
What habit of faith might you need to add to your life?
It might be helpful to reflect upon how you most long to connect with God: through scripture? Through prayer? Through others? At the soul level? And then choose a spiritual practice accordingly. If you’d like to some guidance in this type of reflection, I’d love to share my Connections Quiz with you. I created this as a bonus for my course: Spiritual Practices for the Busy Modern Woman.
This free resource is available in the Free for You section of this website. Get the password when you subscribe below!
When you fill it out (either print it or fill it out digitally!), it should give you a good idea of how you most long to connect with God in this season. Each module in the course is designed to address these four areas of connection, so if you need some new and fresh spiritual practices to explore, this self-paced course is for you!
My Lenten prayer for us
Dear God, we thank you for the seasons
for their temporary, repetitive nature.
And now that the season of Lent
is almost upon us,
we pray that we wouldn’t shy away
from identifying with your suffering in the wilderness,
that we would willingly seek to become more like you.
Guide us as we consider spiritual habits
that we can practice daily
in order to grow closer to you.
May they be a reflection of our longing,
and not a box to check or piety to perform.
Meet us in our need, our lack,
our weakness, and
surround us with your love.
**For the password to access the Free for You library and download the Connections Quiz, be sure to sign up below to get The Scoop, a twice a month newsletter filled with helpful links to the best posts and podcasts to encourage you in your journey of faith and motherhood!
*Feature photo from Pixistock
One thought on “Which Spiritual Practice Do You Need for Lent? (Take the Quiz!)”
I love what you shared here about giving something up and trying something new, to press on in and deepen our relationship with God. Reflecting now on a Lenten practice for this year!