40 Days of Lent

I love Lent. Is that a strange statement to make about a season dedicated to self-denial and discipline?

The thing about Lent that appeals to me is that it is an extended time set aside to identify with Jesus, and ultimately allow God to transform our body, soul and spirit. It is meant to be a process of spiritual cleansing – taking spiritual inventory, cleaning out the things that hinder our relationship with God and others, and replacing them with things that aid those relationships. I like that and I need that.

Many people practice the fasting tradition of Lent, and give up things like meat or alcohol (or in our Techie Age, Facebook). But there are also the traditions of prayer and tithing that are significant to Lent. This Lent season, I am observing all three practices in various ways.

Fasting: I am fasting from chocolate and candy. By giving these up, I hope to cultivate more dependence on God, self-control, and simplicity. Chocolate, in particular, can be a strong force in my life, and I already feel the cost of giving it up.

Prayer: I have a daily prayer routine. Every morning and evening, I read and pray through the Lenten Prayers. These prayers reflect the spirit of Lent, and help me connect to God on a daily basis. I printed out a copy of the prayers, and keep them on my nightstand.

Tithing: During Lent, I am putting aside $1 a day plus $10 on Easter to give to the American Red Cross Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami efforts. It feels like a very small contribution toward a massive need, but I hope that giving money in this way will help in some way. I have a glass jar where I put a daily dollar, as a reminder of how much I have and how much more others around the world are in need.

My hope during Lent is that God will transform me in deep ways, and that those changes will carry much further beyond these 40 days.

What about you…how are you observing Lent? What are your thoughts on this season?

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