It hardly seems possible, but tomorrow is the first day of Lent for 2013. It seems to have crept up quickly on us this year, but that may only be because Easter is in March this year for the first time since 2008. I haven’t really given much thought so far this year as to what I’m going to do or not do as I observe Lent this year. This may be a good thing, because perhaps there are times when I put too much thinking into the whole thing and never really benefit too much from it all.
Last year I published a post outlining some of the things I wanted to do for Lent. I think I managed most of them, but I’m not sure that at the end of it all there was much change in the way I lived my life. So, this year I’m going to try to think more about the reasons why I am doing/not doing certain things and try to come out the other end changed for the better.
The main things I endeavour to keep to are pretty similar to what I wrote last year, but with more intention or meaning attached to them. Here is my list so far, which I’m posting here in the hope that it will help keep me accountable:
- Fast for 12 hours each day following my evening meal. I did this last year and it helped me lose weight and also helped to break my habit of evening snacking.
- Exercise for at least 20 minutes each day. I recently started using our Wii Fit again and am already slowly seeing the benefits. Hopefully I can continue to keep this one up.
- Pray more. I bought a book last week by R. Douglas Jones called Dawn to Dark: A Book of Christian Prayer, which is a practical book that introduces the practice of fixed-hour prayer, along with practical ways and resources for making this a reality in one’s life. So far I am finding it to be very useful and it already is helping me to pray more.
- Sit in silence for at least 15 minutes each day. I tried this last year, but it didn’t work out too well. I’m not sure why this one is so hard, but I think that the practice of fixed-hour prayer will help me to achieve this.
- More intentional spiritual reading. Over the last year I have tended to shy away from reading spiritual books. A quick look at my reading list for 2012 is proof of this. I’ve changed my daily reading book for Lent this year. Yesterday I received a galley of God Is on the Cross: Reflections on Lent and Easter by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which I will use this year as I journey through Lent. I also hope to read my way through Jesus: A Theography by Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet. I also hope to revisit The Last Eyewitness: The Final Week by Chris Seay and David Capes.
I would also like to think that I’d be able to blog more this year on my experiences as I journey through Lent. I started off with good intentions, but this didn’t last long. I’ll see how this goes, but at least one reflection post a week would be an improvement.
If you are looking for ideas for how you can observe Lent yourself, I offer the following links to a number of good resources:
- Your Lent Ideas – Rachel Held Evans has posted a list of ideas on her blog for the past few years. This is her post for this year and gives links to her previous lists as well.
- Sacred Space – this is one of the best online daily prayer sites and can be really helpful if you struggle with the practice of daily prayer.
- What to give up for Lent – a page with a list of things to give up or to add for Lent. There may be something there that grabs your attention.
- Lenten Links and Resources – this is a large list of a various types of resources offered by the text this week.
This is just a small sampling of the many resources available out there. If you have any more that you think might be helpful, please leave me a link in the comments section. Keep in mind that Lent is not supposed to be a time of drudgery – it should help improve you in some way. If you find that what you are doing/not doing becomes unbearable or discouraging, then you may have to rethink things and find something challenging that is more helpful for you.