Lent is a journey with Jesus that leads us to know him more deeply. Resist the urge to focus on only giving something up for Lent. Keeping a Holy Lent is never about our willpower. It is about returning to the Lord through repentance and allowing him to reshape us in his image. The Church has traditionally done this through fasting, prayer and giving based on Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21.
In a sense, during Lent we surrender, even put to death, some part of ourselves so that we can see the resurrection life of Jesus transform us. As we begin this season ask yourself, how can I be more like Jesus by the time we celebrate his resurrection on Easter morning?
Going without food is a humbling act that reminds us of our total dependence on God (Mat. 4:1-2). Traditionally people fast on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and additional days during Lent. You may choose to fast on certain days or from particular meals or to abstain from certain foods. Or you may give up something else meaningful that is central to your daily routine. Remember that fasting is a spiritual discipline and not a diet. If you give something up during Lent make sure that you can joyfully take it back up to celebrate on Sundays which are designated for feasting, not fasting.
Whether you fast or abstain during Lent, doing without something allows us to have more resources to give to others (Isa. 58:6-7). Consider giving the value of whatever you fast in order to help others in need. For example, if you chose to drink only water during Lent, you could give the money you would spend on coffee and other drinks to help build wells for those who lack clean water though saveadrink.org. Or your family could adopt the diet of an average family from another nation, like Syria, and give your grocery savings to meet a need in that country. Fasting is always an opportunity to meet the needs of others in the name of Jesus.
As we reorient our hearts to the Lord, establishing a daily habit of prayer and mediation on scripture is essential (Mat. 6:5-6). We are calling all of Restoration to pray the Daily Office found in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. It combines the prayers of the Church and readings from the Bible that guide you through Lent as you join with Christians all around the world in prayer. Generations of Christians have used it to guide their daily devotions at fixed hours throughout the day. We recently held the Prayer Book People Retreat to teach people about this daily discipline and helped them develop a customized plan to pray the Daily Office. The retreat materials are available as PDF and we have started a Prayer Book People Facebook Group that will offer support and answer questions as you get started.