Old Testament: Psalm 103:8-14
New Testament: Matthew 12:43-45
Practice: New routines
Fasting is a central part of Lent, but we must not focus solely on what we “give up.” In Matthew 12, Jesus teaches that when an evil spirit leaves a person, it will eventually return and find “its former home empty, swept, and in order” and that seven other evil spirits more wicked than the first will take up residence (Matthew 12:44 NLT). When we choose to fast, I don’t think we are necessarily fighting off evil spirits, but I do think the principle is the same. If our focus is solely on ridding ourselves of our vices or distractions, we might actually open ourselves to new distractions and vices. Lent is a time to abstain from some practices, but it is also a time to begin (or renew) other practices that can reinforce our faith and deepen our relationship with God.
If you choose to spend less time (or no time) on social media or watching television, what are you going to do with the time you would ordinarily spend on those things? If you choose to fast from a meal each day or fast completely once a week, how will you use the time that you would normally eat? It is easy to commit to skipping lunch and working right through it, so how are you going to ensure that your commitment to fasting remains spiritually driven and doesn’t get pushed to the side by other obligations? At the heart of Lent is a renewed focus (and reflection) on our relationship with God in everything we do.
Yesterday we considered different things we could abstain from during the Lent season to help renew our focus on the Lord. Today, let’s consider some practices that you can experiment with during Lent to help stir your spirit. If it doesn’t betray a commitment that you made for Lent (watching videos online, using technology, etc.) Check out this short TED Talk by Matt Cutts called “Try Something New for 30 Days” (it’s less than four minutes long). It’s a short pep talk on the power of trying new things. Here are some ideas for you to consider committing to during Lent.
- Find a way to incorporate this devotional guide into your daily routine. Consider reading the Scriptures when you wake up in the morning or listen to the songs over breakfast. Try to establish a rhythm in the first few days that you can incorporate over the next several weeks.
- Go out of your way to pay someone a compliment each day – maybe even record what you said and to whom.
- Try to incorporate prayers into some of your mundane daily routines (brushing your teeth, showering, preparing breakfast).
- Give away money one day a week. Pay forward a coffee or fast food meal. If you pass someone begging for money, give them some.
- Send a message or a note of encouragement to someone every day – maybe begin your day that way or while you eat lunch.
- If you aren’t a reader, consider reading a book over Lent.
- Every night before you go to bed, make a list of things that you are grateful for that day.
These are, again, just a few ideas to help you think creatively about some new practices that you can try to incorporate into the daily rhythms of your life. We have probably all been driving somewhere without paying any attention to the journey when, suddenly, we arrive at our destination. We are creatures of habit and live a good bit of our lives on autopilot, so let’s take some time in the coming weeks to better awaken ourselves to the presence of God in every minute of every day. Paul writes in Colossians 3:17 (NLT) “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”