Forty Ideas to Incorporate or Give Up this Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  Today we remember our station, that we are dust, and one day will return to dust.  It’s a time of personal reflection on the passion of Christ, and the imitation of Him.  It’s also a time of intentional resolve to follow the exhortation of Philippians 2, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.  The sacrifices we make should be from a heart of obedience, and not for outward show.  In this, we draw near to the heart of God, as obedient children, and have the opportunity to participate in His suffering and death.  The practical application of this participation is denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Him. We give up things, attitudes, or bad habits that may have taken a place in our hearts that is reserved only for the Lord.  We put these things aside, and work on developing good habits while we nourish our souls.

If you don’t know what to give up for Lent, I’ve compiled a list of 40 ideas for you to choose from:  If you’e already made your Lenten sacrifice, there’s an idea for each day of Lent for a little extra sacrifice to keep you extra focused.

I’m always on the lookout for new ideas, and would love to hear yours.  Feel free to share your Lenten inspirations with me in the comments.

  1. Spend some time developing your prayer life this Lent.  I’m still adding to and organizing my own prayer journal, and working on making better habits.
  2. Give up social media.  So much time is wasted here.  I’ve actually fasted completely in the past.  This year, I’ll be partially fasting, because of work that requires me to be on social media.  My goal is balance, my plan is to abstain from sun up to sun down, then prioritize the time acquired between work, familly, and ministry. I hope to be able to continue this even after Lent is over.
  3. Television.  Turn. It. Off.  Seriously!  We actually are planning to disconnect cable altogether as soon as this billing cycle ends.  What a waste of money and resources.  It’s just a vast wasteland of mind rot.
  4. Replace TV time with reading a good book.
  5. Read Story of A Soul, or if you prefer, listen to it online.
  6. Give up some sleep.  Wake up an hour earlier than usual, or stay up an extra hour before going to sleep.
  7. Replace sleep time with prayer and/or contemplation.
  8. Learn and pray the Divine Office.  It’s online here.
  9. Give up your telephone.  Turn it off for an hour, or an afternoon, or all day.  Let your voicemail pick up important calls and you can return them later.
  10. Make and send a handwritten greeting card or letter.  Don’t you love to get REAL mail?  Give, and you will receive.
  11. Give up laziness.  When you feel like sitting and relaxing, get up and DO something.  Combat laziness with activity…go for a walk, exercise, garden….
  12. Offer up your hobbies.  We enjoy them, but sometimes they take more time than they should, time away from necessary things, even.
  13. Give up worrying and fretting.  Aint’ nobody got time for that!  Replace it with thanksgiving, and allow His peace to fill your soul.
  14. Memorize Philippians 4:6,7
  15. Pray the Rosary.  If you are a baby Catholic (like me) or are just learning the Rosary, it is helpful to listen and pray along with one of the many youtube videos available.  Check it out, and pick your favorite.
  16. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  I prefer to sing it.  This is my favorite version right now.
  17. Give up your pride.
  18. Pray the Litany of Humility
  19. Turn off your electricity for a day and meditate on Jesus being the Light of the World.
  20. Pray for those who do not have electricity for refrigeration, cooking, heating/cooling, and etc.
  21. Give up your favorite Alcoholic drink.
  22. Replace your usual alcohol beverage with water while you meditate Jesus’ first miracle.
  23. Give up caffeine (!)  (I have to admit this one is a huge sacrifice for me, I really, really love and appreciate my morning coffee.  If you can’t give it up completely, what about cutting back and limiting yourself to just one cup instead of half a pot?)
  24. Cut out all sugar and carbs and replace them with healthy alternatives.
  25. Give up one meal.  Offer it up and replace the time with a Rosary for world hunger.
  26. Give up meat.  Try some new meatless meals on another day besides the usual Friday fast.
  27. The ever popular “sweets”.  Give up candy, sodas, desserts, etc.
  28. Give up that second helping.  That dinner was good, and you could easily polish off another plate of it?  Resist.  Offer it up.
  29. Give up salt. Experience the absence of salt while you do a topical study on all the times salt is mentioned in the Bible.  You won’t forget it.
  30. Visit a shut-in
  31. Read Thomas A’Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ 
  32. Did you know Thomas A’Kempis has another beautiful work?  I’m reading The Imitation of Mary this Lent, after finding it in our church’s bookstore.  So far, I don’t see a free version online, but Amazon has them if your church bookstore doesn’t.
  33. Give up your inclination to anger.  When you feel it rising, offer it up, and and look for an opportunity to exercise your compassion.
  34. Memorize Colossians 3:8-13
  35. Give up grumbling and complaining, replace it with thanksgiving.  This requires you to think before you speak, a worthy habit to develop!
  36. Memorize Philippians 2:12-16
  37. Give up shopping for 40 days.  Learn to be content and make do with what’s on hand.
  38. Memorize Hebrews 13:1-6
  39. Give up procrastinating.  Whatever it is you’re putting off, do it, so you can get it done!  You’re not getting any younger.
  40. Memorize Ephesians 5:14-17 — in fact, if you’ve got serious penance in mind, memorize the whole chapter.  It is RICH, isn’t it?
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