Forty lentings for the season of the cross

I just learned a new word that a few friends have freshly minted: lenting.  It’s the verbal form of Lent, meaning “giving something up for Lent.”  As in, “I’d love to hang out with you at the pub but I’m lenting alcohol.”

Giving something up for Lent (what my friends call “lenting”) is a common practice in this season of the cross.  It’s not done to earn spiritual brownie points with God but instead is a concrete, embodied way of walking with Jesus in his Passion.  lent

This year, I’ve had trouble narrowing down to one Lenten practice, one thing I’m going to be lenting (I’d consider giving up coffee … for the afternoons of Lent).  Our family decided on something to practice together but I hadn’t landed on a personal Lent practice.  Then a brainwave – what about a series of Lenten practices, a different one for every day of Lent.  My wife thought this was a crappy idea, out of sync with the vigor of an extended lenting and likely a reflection of my indolent and undisciplined life (she didn’t exactly use those words but its amazing how much gets communicated with a glance).

I still think its not a horrible idea.  So for all you Jesus followers who are still wondering how to mark Lent, here’s an accessible, day by day series of lentings, forty different practices to walk the way with Jesus in his Passion.

  1. – enjoy five minutes of silence, quieting yourself in God’s presence.
  2. – put a $20 in your pocket and give it away today.
  3. – for 5 minutes hold a posture of empty hands (hands open, palms up), and reflect on your need for God.
  4. – slow down and become aware of your breathing.  Pray a simple breath prayer, with the in-and-out bellows of your lungs and diaphragm: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
  5. – pray for someone who is mourning and write a note of comfort.
  6. – unplug your life and hold an electronics fast today
  7. – give up complaining for the day
  8. – read Psalm 51
  9. – go through your closet, dresser and garage to find 5 things to give away to your local thrift store.
  10. – hold a simple fast today, just vegetables and water.
  11. – fast from defending or justifying yourself, reminding yourself all the while of God’s approval of you in Jesus.
  12. – forgive a debt that is owed to you (financial or otherwise)
  13. – take 5 minutes to really see something; observe and pay focused attention to one thing.
  14. – watch Of Gods and Men and reflect on Jesus’ call to be peacemakers.
  15. – pray for Christians who are being persecuted
  16. – throughout the day, as soon as you feel an anxiety or worry, immediately give it to God.
  17. – refrain from blaming the world for the decay and problems in life today; instead look for alternative explanations.
  18. – light a candle and let it remind you of the call to push back darkness wherever you are.
  19. – spend some time with a good book of art on the crucifixion (one good possibility is Rien Poortvliet’s He was one of us)
  20. – keep a gratitude list all day
  21. – pray for your enemies
  22. – confess your sins to a friend or spouse (the real junk not the safe, generic stuff)
  23. – give seven genuine, thoughtful compliments today
  24. – buy nothing today
  25. – it’s time – give up coffee for the day
  26. – fast from insults and sarcasm (both spoken and mental – including no rolling eyes!)
  27. – forgive someone who hurt you
  28. – pray for someone going through a divorce or a relationship breakdown
  29. – dwell on Luci Shaw’s poem Trauma Center
  30. – pray today’s news
  31. – secretly clean the dishes at the office kitchen or in your home
  32. – pray Psalm 32
  33. – judge no one today (but more likely, inventory every judgmental thought, word or attitude today and ask for forgiveness as it arises).
  34. – fast from social media.
  35. – buy a grocery gift card and give it to a panhandler or homeless person you meet
  36. – try the daily prayer at
  37. – take a nap (your body leading the way in resting in Christ’s completed work)
  38. – wash someone’s feet (not metaphorically but actually)
  39. – pray Psalm 22
  40. – listen to U2’s 40 and remember Resurrection Sunday’s coming – it’s not that far off.  Or watch 40 here

3 thoughts on “Forty lentings for the season of the cross”

  1. Today is the day we always pray for you and Knox and it was lovely to find a new Squinch about “Lentings.” Here in Tucson the Pastor of our little church plant asked us to write weekly devotional leaflets for our congregation who along with us, felt called to go a “40 day Journey with Jesus” to draw nearer to Him and to deepen their love for God and others. Your “40 Lentings” include some lovely ideas I will share with my friends, especially on the week that our theme is “Sowing new seeds of love”. Thank you much and many greetings and blessings to the congregation! Mary Anne (and Jack)

  2. Boy, could I picture the look on Betty’s face. However, I love this idea, Phil. Funny how the day I had the strongest internal reaction to was the day to give up coffee! Not sure what that says about me so I’ll have to reflect on that awhile.

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