Lent is more than just giving up something for 40 days. It is also a time of great growth and reflection as you quiet your heart.
You can grow closer to God and strengthen your faith by preparing your heart for Lent with a little bit of intentional thought and some planning.
The season of Lent is upon us and for most people, it just means giving up something of comfort for the next 40 days…. but Lent is so much more than making a sacrifice.
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Lent is a season of slowing down, to walk with Christ, and truly reflect on what He did for us.
Christ died on the cross, a death we deserve. He took our place so we could experience the hope and promise that comes from His resurrection on Easter.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Lent is a season of slowing down to walk with Christ & to truly reflect on what He did for us” quote=”Lent is a season of slowing down, to walk with Christ and to truly reflect on what He did for us.”]
After the holiday season, January always feels like a welcoming sight. Routines return back to normal, and our homes are simplified.
However, I don’t know about you, but in our home, it always seems like those fresh start days of the New Year only last for a few seconds before our hurried pace picks up again and our “normal” routines are filled up again with activities, responsibilities and rushing around.
We need a reset and Lent provides that opportunity.
For some reason, many churches don’t make much of Lent, almost as if it’s not part of the Liturgical Calendar. It’s a shame really because Lent, even though represents a dark season of waiting, also points us straight to Christ.
We are reminded Christ had to die for our sins.
We are reminded of the hope we have in the resurrection.
We are reminded that we have been saved through Grace and He is our ultimate redeemer.
I love how Margaret Feinberg put it, “the 40 days leading up to Easter can be some of the most life-giving, perspective-changing, hope-filled days of the entire year.”
Imagine if you spent the next few weeks really focusing on growing in your relationship with the Lord, how would your faith change?
How would your view of who Jesus is and what He has done for you change?
I’m going to bet that if you were intentional about keeping your eyes on Christ, big things would happen inside your heart.
Creating a Plan to Prepare Your Heart for Lent
Taking the time to prepare your heart for Lent is necessary. Entering into this season wanting to grow closer to the Lord, requires a little bit of intentional thought and some planning.
Take a few minutes to read through this list of practical ways to prepare your heart for Lent and to create a plan to not only grow your faith but to rely on Jesus and His grace in a way you have never done before.
Silence the Noise
We live in a noisy world, with the constant coming and goings, pings and beeps on our phones and an endless stream of news at our fingertips that fills our heart and souls with fear, anxiety, pride, envy, anger, and a whole host of other emotions that keep us from the Lord.
Lent is the perfect time to silence those noises.
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Turn off the notifications and remove Facebook and other social media apps from your phone, turn off the TV and limit your time on the internet.
This is the perfect opportunity to ask yourself why you are constantly reaching for your phone in the first place.
Set strict kitchen counter hours with your electronics and encourage your entire family to do the same too.
Turn off the TV during the week and make a choice to only watching something that is lifegiving and affirming together during a weekend family movie night.
Turn off the music. I’m a big fan of having quiet, worship music play through our home most days but lately, I’ve been enjoying the silence. I wholeheartedly believe Gospel-centered worship music stirs our heart’s affection towards Christ but silencing the noise to get alone with our thoughts and really listen to the voice of God is heart-changing as well.
If cutting off all streams of information isn’t possible due to school or work responsibilities, you can still drastically cut down on the stream of noise coming your way.
Replace these activities with things from the list below.
Instead of filling your home and heart with the noises of the world, fill them with the messages of truth found in the Bible, worship music, or Scripture-based sermons and podcasts.
While it will seem hard at first, a few days into your new discipline of silencing all the noise will bring such a sense of peace and clarity!
Read the Word
Now that you have silenced all the noise, you can fill your heart with God’s Holy Word!
If you are not already in the habit of reading your Bible every single day, commit to spending the next 40 days in Scripture.
Make reading your Bible a delight with these ideas if you don’t know where to begin.
If you don’t know where to begin, try one of these plans:
- Pick a Gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) and slowly read through and study the entire book.
- Join the She Reads Truth online community as they read through the book of Joshua and Mark this Lent season. You can sign up to have the daily Bible reading and short devotional delivered straight to your inbox every day for free.
- My friend Arabah Joy has a fantastic 40 Promises: Praying the Promises of the Cross 40-Day Kit. You can download your kit and receive a whole toolkit of goodies to help you in your journey.
Write the Word
Writing the Word has transformed my entire faith journey. It’s a simple discipline but what a great reward!
As you are reading and studying God’s Word during this Lent season (and all year long!), begin the simple exercise of writing down a few verses.
If you really want to make an impact, challenge yourself to write through an entire book of the Bible!
I am slowly working my way through writing out the Gospel of John and I invite you to join me too with this exciting resource I now have available!
My other favorite resource are the Write the Word journals from the Cultivate shop. They are beautiful leather-bound journals with pre-selected verses on various topics. They even have a blank journal for you to use along with the Praying the Promise challenge above!
Check them out HERE
If you don’t know where to begin when it comes to Scripture Writing, I have a free resource called the Scripture Graces Quick Start Guide which will help you understand what writing the Word is, how to start, and even a 5-week plan to write through the book of Colossians… perfect for Lent!
Remember these truths as you read and write through the Bible:
Allow God’s Word to flow through you as you write the Scripture down.
Meditate on what He is saying.
Remember that the Bible is a book not about us, but rather about God… What He has done, what He has promised, and what He is continuing to reveal to us.
Replace Comforts with the Comfort of Christ
Lent is more than just giving up sugar and sweets, Facebook, certain TV shows, or other creature comforts.
While making a sacrifice of something you crave and comfort does represent the ultimate sacrifice Christ made for us, if our hearts are not in the right place, why even bother giving it up?
[clickToTweet tweet=”If our hearts are not in the right place, why even bother giving up something for #Lent?” quote=”If our hearts are not in the right place, why even bother giving up something for Lent?”]
Before you give up something and fast from it during the Lent season, ask yourself the following questions:
How will this bring me closer to Christ?
Why is giving this up vital to my faith walk?
Is giving this up more about improving my health, sanity, energy, etc., than about drawing my heart closer to God? (If the answer to that question is YES, then you really need to evaluate your heart and motivation.)
It doesn’t mean that you can’t give up sugar or other unhealthy habits for the purpose of creating new habits but if that is your main focus, then you aren’t really sacrificing something to draw closer to God.
Instead, replace these habits, comforts, or cravings by delighting in Him.
Use the removal of these reliances to pray for strength during your withdrawal period.
Fill in the time you would normally spend on these activities in prayer and reading the Bible.
[clickToTweet tweet=” Let the sweetness of Christ replace your longings & desires for the comforts of this world. ” quote=” Let the sweetness of Christ replace your longings and desires for the comforts of this world.”]
Pray for God to change your heart.
Let the sweetness of Christ replace your longings and desires for the comforts of this world.
Bitterness and emptiness will be replaced with pure joy and deep intimacy with Christ!
Read Gospel-Focused Books
I’m a reader by nature, so of course, books are always added to my lists!
If you aren’t a reader, Lent is the perfect time to use some of your time each day (you know… the free time you have now that you have silenced the noise!) 😉 to read some literature that will point your heart towards Christ.
Commit to a few minutes each day, after Bible reading, to invest in growing your mind and allowing the powerful words that God spoke into gifted writers to penetrate your heart.
If you need some suggestions, here a few good ones:
Comforts of the Cross // It’s a 30-day devotional so it’s perfect to use during Lent!
Uncovering the Love of Jesus // A brand new devotional that is designed to walk you through Lent (this is what my family will be using this year!
The Promised One: Seeing Jesus in Genesis // I am reading through this for our women’s Bible study at church and it is so good!
Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die // short daily readings to think and chew on making this one a powerful read during this season.
Own Your Life // I’m slowly working through this one from Sally Clarkson and it is another great book that is challenging, convicting, encouraging, and grace-filled.
None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different Than Us (And Why That’s a Good Thing) // Jen Wilkin invites us to celebrate the freedom that comes when we rest in letting God be God.
Journey to the Cross: A 40-Day Lenten Devotional // This is a brand new, just released title by Paul David Trip that will call you to set aside busyness to focus on the suffering and sacrifice of Christ that ultimately brings us deep and everlasting joy in Him.
Journal Your Journey
Believing God can transform your life is a powerful truth.
What if you wrote what He is teaching and revealing to you down in a journal?
What a powerful testimony you would have of God working in your life. A beautiful reflection you could look back on over the years.
You don’t have to show anyone else your words. They could be just between you and Jesus, but the process of journaling and processing all you are learning and thinking about.
Commit to spending a few minutes each day reflecting on and writing down the truths He is revealing to you.