How To Get Unstuck Preparing For Lent
By Nick P.
So Lent is coming, and you want to make sure that you are going to do something that will allow you to grow your faith during this period.
However, you aren’t sure exactly what you want to do.
Does this sound familiar?
I know it does for me!
Every year for the past few years I have waited until the last moment because I didn’t know what I wanted to do for Lent.
I basically became stuck.
What I am doing instead is making sure that I have a clear plan, which you may or may not have read. If you haven’t, click here to read how to prepare for Lent now.
However, this may not help you get unstuck, because now it’s even more confusing.
There are three areas that I want to focus on for Lent, and perhaps that will help you too.
Those three areas are: Fasting, Service, and Prayer.
Why did I choose these three areas?
Because each area is very specific to what the period of Lent is about to me.
While I won’t go into great detail about each, as I plan on doing that in later blog posts, I will touch very briefly on what each area means to me, and how you can get unstuck as you prepare for Lent.
When I first thought of the word ‘fasting’, I think of going without something. Usually that means going without food, although today you can fast from just about anything. You can fast from social media, you can fast from television, or you can fast from a particular type of food.
Each fast is worthy and something that perhaps you could pursue during Lent, but I also want to think about how else you can fast.
Can you fast from buying unnecessary items for your life?
Do you really need another pair of shoes, or that latest gadget? Could the money you spend on those things do some good somewhere else, either in your life or in someone else’s?
Do you need to spend time in front of the television, rather than reading something that may help you deepen your faith, such as a devotional book?
Can you take some of that television time and read the Psalms to your family, and help them grow in their faith as well?
It doesn’t have to be something BIG that you give up, but it should be intentional.
If you don’t think any of these ideas will help, how about writing down all the things that come to mind when you think of fasting? Will that help you find something to fast from?
We will go more in-depth on what fasting can mean, but these are some ideas that will help you get unstuck now.
- Write down a list of things you could do without right now.
- Choose to add something that will help you become more healthy.
- Turn off the television and open a book.
These are just some suggestions, but there are plenty more that you can find to use as a fast for your personal Lent journey.
Service can come in so many different forms, and it can be difficult to narrow down to what type of service you may want to give during this period.
I know, I feel that same way as Lent approaches and I try to determine how I can best give my time, talents and/or treasure.
So what does service look like to me?
For me, service is giving someone or something the most precious commodity we have: Time.
I like to give my time to those who need it, for those who are just looking to have a conversation and have someone listen to them.
The church my wife and I attend has a segment of older people (I’m 51 at the time of this writing, so imagine how much ‘older’ those people are) that have more specialized needs.
What type of needs?
For starters, they need someone who is going to listen to them with compassion.
They may be widows or widowers, or their circle of friends is dwindling as time goes by because of death or illness, or they may become shut-ins themselves.
It’s important that we recognize that they still have value, and give them the service that they need to feel that value.
This is what I intend to do during Lent, and beyond, with the time I can give to those who need it.
This doesn’t have to be what you do, however.
Here are some other forms of service that you can provide:
- Spend a few hours each week at a homeless shelter, listening to the needs of those who are living on the streets.
- Volunteer to teach a children’s Sunday School class at your church.
- Bring your neighbor’s garbage cans in when you bring yours in.
- Rake the leaves of your neighbor’s lawn.
As you can see, the service you give can be right next door. Take the time to look left and right when you leave your home, and see if service opportunities are there. It’ll make for a stronger community within your world, and also make you be a part of that world.
While we think that prayer is something that we do all year long, how much do you actually pray? What type of prayer do you actually do?
For me, prayer is essential to me feeling closer to God, but also a way to release those things that are on my mind or in my heart.
However, I also find ways to bring gratitude into my prayer.
I found that when I first really started to pray on a continual basis, that I prayed for release of my burdens. What I found is that through doing that, all I continued to focus on were the burdens I had in my mind and on my heart.
When I became intentional about praying, and focusing on those things that I was grateful for, I felt the weight of those burdens becoming less and less.
Now, I’m not saying that I don’t come to prayer and ‘voice’ my burdens to God, but rather that I start and end my prayer with gratitude.
While that works great for me, how you pray is something that you must decide.
Forms of prayer you may want to add or focus on during Lent could be:
- Reciting The Lord’s Prayer in the morning and evening.
- Praying the Rosary as a way to meditate.
- Praying for others as they go through struggles.
Prayer is something that needs to be personal, and purposeful. As Jesus said in Matthew, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like the pagans, who think they will be heard with their many words. For your Father knows what you need before you even ask him.” (Matt 6: 7-8)
Focus on what you can do, not what you are not able to do.
Do you have to do something for all the topics mentioned?
If all you can do is to devote your time to one thing, and give your all to it, that’s wonderful!
The goal is not quantity, but quality.
God already knows how your time is spent, and if you have a busy family life, busy work life, and can only devote a portion of your time to spending a few minutes a day in prayer, you are doing well for yourself.
The goal is to make it intentional to do something that helps you focus on the journey of Lent.
Do these help you get unstuck from what you are thinking? Please let me know below in the comments!