Are you wondering what to give up for Lent?
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent — a season marked by repentance, fasting, reflection, and (hopefully!) celebration. The 40-day period represents Christ’s time in the wilderness, where he was tempted by Satan, fasted from food, and prepared for His upcoming time of ministry.
When I started following Jesus, I gave up all sorts of things like fast food, chocolate, and alcohol. But as I’ve grown older, I started asking myself…
“How is giving this thing up during Lent growing me closer to God?”
It really changed my whole outlook on Lent and helped me choose to give things up that would help me grow in my relationship with God.
If that sounds like something you want to try this year, you’re in luck! Here are 21 things you can give up to free some space for God to start moving in your life.
If you’re like me, you spend way too much time on social media… and you know you spend way too much time on social media. When the coronavirus hit last year, it seemed our only way to stay in touch with friends and family was social media. But all that scrolling has helped cause division and bickering in our world. There are different ways to keep in touch. Instead of scrolling, why not call?
After I graduated college, I didn’t have a television in my house, but that didn’t mean I spent less time watching screens. I spent hours on YouTube, turning what could have been a productive day into eight straight hours of cat videos and football highlights. Instead of YouTube, why not substitute in some time for reading a good book or (gasp!) studying the Bible.
Okay, this one might be a bit difficult. But what if you turned your phone onto Airplane Mode after a certain time each night? You might find yourself having more time to pray, chat with friends, or go to sleep a little earlier.
Fast food restaurants
Listen, I love a Chick-Fil-A sandwich with waffle fries just as much as anyone else, but what if you stopped eating out for Lent and instead put the money you saved back into your bank account… or donated it to a worthwhile charity?
This can be a tough one if you need that jolt to get yourself ready for a day of work or kids. It was for me when I tried it one year. But after a few days of caffeine headaches, I actually found that my mind was a little clearer. And I even saved some money not driving through Starbucks every morning. If Jesus could spend 40 days in a desert being tempted by Satan, we can give up a little coffee… right?
This can be for a block of time every day or for the entire season of Lent, but taking television out and adding in a book or Scripture or a short time of prayer is going to be worth it.
No, don’t give up sleeping altogether, but consider giving up a little bit and waking up earlier. Set your alarm, brew a cup of coffee (or tea if you’re giving up coffee for Lent too!) and spend that extra time with God before the rest of your house is up. Consider a daily devotional to guide your time of study and prayer. Even 15 minutes can make a huge difference.
One meal everyday
Jesus said when you fast, not if you fast. Commit to fasting one meal a week or a whole day every month. Doctors and nutritionists agree that regular fasting is actually good for the body! After all, self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. Take the time you would have eaten that meal to read the Bible or pray for someone.
Music in your car
Do you spend a lot of your day in the car? Maybe it’s only the daily commute to and from work, but what if you turned off the radio or switched off Spotify and let your mind relax in the (relative) peace and quiet? You could also listen to an audiobook Bible or pray for a few minutes.
Oh, boy… this one might be it for me this year. I struggle with getting unnecessarily angry all the time. But what if we gave up yelling for an entire Lent? Every time we feel that frustration start to build and our voice gets a little louder, what if instead we said a quick prayer and took a deep breath?
One night per week for volunteering
This may look different in 2021 as we stay in our homes, but you can still take time out of your schedule to help someone. Are you a writer? Offer to write someone’s resume and help them find a job. Are you good with numbers? Balance a non-profit’s books. Are you a musician? Teach a novice over video chat.
Part of your grocery budget for homeless men and women
We wrote about this last month, but it’s an easy and practical way to always be ready when a homeless man or woman asks you for money to buy food.
One hour of work every day
This probably won’t work for those of you who work in an office or a restaurant, but if you’re in charge of your own schedule (or you take work home consistently) why not consider giving up one hour of work every day? Spend it resting, relaxing, and resetting.
There are things we spend money on every day that we don’t really need. Start to ask yourself how necessary something is before buying it and if it doesn’t pass the test… don’t buy it! You can take this extra cash and put it into your savings or donate it.
It’s been a stressful year, and I’ve looked for comfort in the foods I eat more than I’d like to admit. What’s your comfort food? Pizza? Ice cream? Cookies? Donuts? Give these up, and whenever you feel tempted to indulge say a quick prayer to God and ask Him for comfort instead.
In addition to certain foods, I’ve looked for comfort in sports all throughout the last year. The football season is always like a warm blanket for me. Instead of watching, reading about, and following your favorite sport, take the extra time to walk around a local park or read a book that’s been sitting on your bookshelf.
The pandemic has us all inside a little more than we’d like to be, but there are other things we can do besides video games. See if you can cut back during Lent. If quitting entirely sounds impossible, try to play only during one or two days a week. Mario and Link will still be there on the weekend.
This Lent, give up something that’s more harmful to your body than fast food and cut out gossip completely. If someone starts talking in a negative way about someone else, try and change the subject. If they persist, tell them you’re giving up gossip for Lent — and hopefully it leads to giving it up for good.
Is there a good reason to buy so much bottled water anymore. We have drinking fountains and water coolers at work. We have kitchen faucets and fridge dispensers at home. Buy an environmentally-friendly container and do your part to reduce plastic consumption in the world.
Soda and energy drinks
Now that you’ve learned how much free water there is all around you, why not cut soda and energy drinks out of your life for Lent?
Being shy about the Gospel
You knew we were going to get there eventually, right? We shouldn’t be shy about preaching the Gospel to our friends and family. Cut it out of your life for Lent and see if you can become a little bolder with your faith starting this Easter.