Finding something meaningful to give up (or start doing) for Lent this year can help you to give your life a bit of a ‘reset’: reflect on your priorities in your life, realign your will with God’s own, and solidify his reign in your life.
If you’re looking for some creative and unconventional ways to observe Lent this year, then try out one of these ideas. Give up driving, or complaining, or start a prayer journal. Make something and give it away. Or give up talking about yourself for 40 days.
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What is Lent?
For Christians, Lent is a period of time where we prepare our hearts for Easter, realign our wills with God’s will, and solidify his reign in our life. Many different Christian denominations observe Lent, including Catholics, Anglicans, Methodists, Lutherans, and Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Christians. But you don’t have to be part of these denominations to benefit from the spiritual practice of Lent.
Typically, Christians give something up for Lent as a way to replicate Jesus’ own period of temptation in the desert before the start of his ministry.
When is Lent?
Lent is a period of 40 days (technically 46 days, since Sundays don’t “count”) starting on Ash Wednesday and leading up to Easter.
40 days is a significant period of time in both the Old and the New Testament.
- In Genesis, the flood that destroyed the earth was brought on by 40 days and nights of rain.
- In Hebrews, the Israelites spent 40 days in the wilderness before reaching the promised land.
- Moses fasted for 40 days before receiving the 10 Commandments at Mount Sinai.
- Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness fasting in preparation for his ministry.
Why do we give things up for Lent?
Giving something up for Lent is a way to symbolically unite yourself each year to the mystery of Jesus’ own temptation in the desert. It is also a time to reflect on your own priorities in your life, and to realign your will with God’s own.
Want to practice Lent with the whole family (including the littles)? Get some Creative Lent Ideas for Families here.
Things to do for Lent instead of giving something up
Lent doesn’t have to be about giving something up.
While traditionally Christians have observed Lent by fasting from something, the purpose of Lent is prepare our hearts for Easter and to solidify the reign of God in our lives.
You can do this by giving something up, or by adopting a spiritual practice or a new habit for 40 days. And that new habit might be something that you carry with you into the rest of your year.
(Below, you’ll find 20 meaningful things to do for Lent instead of giving something up.)
25 Meaningful Things to Give up for Lent this Year
Want to give up something meaningful for Lent this year that will help you to reaffirm God’s place in your life?
Here are some ideas that will help to shape you into the heavenly creature that God intends you to be, and that will help you intentionally mirror Christ’s own temptation in the desert – the temptation to material prosperity and comfort, power, relevance, popularity, doubt, and control.
=> Read more about Jesus’ temptation in the desert and what it means for us here.
25 Meaningful Things to Give up for Lent this Year
- screen time
- interrupting people
- talking about yourself: only talk about yourself when asked a direct question
- shopping: only buy the essentials (like food and cleaning supplies)
- fast food: donate the money you save to a ministry or a charity
- social media
- driving: walk or ride a bike instead
- single use plastic
- all plastic
- sleeping in/staying up late: spend that time with God instead
- the mirror
- weighing yourself
- games on your phone
- talking first: listen more and ask more questions
20 Meaningful Things to Do for Lent This Year
Want to try a new spiritual practice or a habit that will help to declutter your life (literally or metaphorically) and focus more on God? Try out one of these ideas.
20 Meaningful Things to Start Doing for Lent
- Start a gratitude journal.
- Start a prayer journal.
- Throw away (or donate) 40 things for 40 days.
- Clean your house. Donate things you don’t need that could benefit others.
- Declutter. Get rid of all the stuff that you don’t really need. Having a cleaner, sparser space will not only help your mental health, but it will help you kick the habit of holding onto material things.
- Start walking. Spend 20 minutes in silence with God each morning (and get some exercise while you’re at it).
- Carve out time for Bible study. If you’re not already in the habit, check out these tips on how to create a new Bible study habit in 5 minutes a day.
- Carve out time for prayer. Pick up this 40 day prayer devotional by Justin McRoberts & Scott Erickson for a super simple way to add more prayer to each day.
- Pick up a 40 day devotional. Try out this devotional by Rowan Williams on Meeting God in Paul’s Letters. Or this devotion – Rethink Life – that challenges you to rethink seven areas of your life based on God’s purpose for you.
- Be more charitable.
- Donate your time.
- Donate your money.
- Compliment someone every day.
- Make something and give it away. An afghan, or some cookies, or whatever else you are gifted at making.
- Read a book. Ruth Haley Barton’s Sacred Rhythms is one of my favourites. She walks you through 8 spiritual practices that can help deepen your relationship with God and bring about spiritual transformation in your life.
- Adopt a child through an organization like World Vision or Compassion Canada.
- Bring someone a meal.
- Write a letter to someone.
- Try a creative prayer practice. The doodle prayer is one of my favourites.
- Don’t look at your phone for an hour after you wake up and an hour before you go to bed. Pick up a book or your Bible instead.
Thank you for sharing this. I have found meaningful things that I will do during Lent this year!
I’m so glad, Rhashauna. I’m happy I could be an inspiration. 🙂
I am glad I clicked here. Thanks for sharing great ideas for Lent. I found several that will work for me. Giving or donating is a great project for me. So by the end of Lent my house should be clutter free. Thanks for your ideas on what to give up for Lent. Have a blessed Lent season all.
I’m so glad that you found some ideas that will work for you! Yes, donating has the added benefit of decluttering. 🙂
As usual, I’ve given no more than casual thought to my Lenten choice this year other than giving up sugar, which I’ve done for about three Lents. It’s hard, good for me, and I should do it, but I’m bored with it.
So here I am on Ash Wednesday desperately looking for another meaningful thing to do. The first one I see is **screen time** and I honestly had more panic around that than giving up sugar. I’m about as imperfect as a woman can be. I realize the panic is a sign that doing a thing is a deeply meaningful choice.
I’m still thinking. Im not sure I’m strong enough this year for such commitment.
But I appreciate this list.
Haha. I’m a last minute planner too. Our family decided to give up screen times one day a week (on Fridays) for Lent this year. An easier task than the whole 40 days!
This will be my first time participating in lent. I started attending church this year, and as a result, here I am 🙂
Going to be giving up my phone for the next 40 days, except for when I’m at work. Going to be difficult, but I really look forward to all the extra time I will have available to take part in more meaningful tasks, including getting closer to god during this time.
Thank you for the article, and insight.