The Christian season of Lent begins today on Ash Wednesday, as a reflection of the 40 days Jesus fasted prior to beginning his public ministry.
The most common tradition for evangelical Christians who have adopted this element of the liturgical calendar, is abstaining from a certain food, habit or vice for the 40 days (not including Sundays) of Lent. It’s a time to repent of sin, grow more deeply in God’s grace and perhaps even break a bad habit.
There are all sorts of things you could give up for Lent, but there are also some things that you really shouldn’t. If you’re thinking of giving up one of these 10 things for Lent, think again.
- Fasting is a key element of Lent, with different traditions abstaining from meat or other types of food. But don’t give up food entirely, because you’ll probably die.
- On average, the human body can last three days without water. Trying to give up water for four days, let alone 40 days, is just plain silly.
- Trust me, the community around you will greatly appreciate it if you don’t give up showering and brushing your teeth.
- Unless you’re giving up pop/soda entirely for Lent, don’t give up free refills. It’s a great deal and it’s Biblical to be a good steward of your finances.
- The world record for holding your breath is currently 24 minutes and 3 seconds, but the average person can only hold their breath for around two minutes. You’re setting yourself up for failure if you try to quit breathing for Lent.
But seriously, folks…
- 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says to “pray without ceasing,” so you definitely shouldn’t cease praying during Lent. In fact, a big part of Lent is devoting yourself more wholeheartedly to prayer.
Loving your neighbour
- Traditionally, one of the big parts of Lent is almsgiving, or donating money, good and/or time to the poor. Christians should never give up charity and loving your neighbour at any time, but especially not at Lent.
- Perhaps it’s peculiar to Western Christianity, but we often think of Lent as something done alone: I give up something for Lent individually and fast and pray on my own. But Lent is meant to be experienced in community. So don’t give up going to church, meeting with your small group, or spending time with fellow believers. It’s especially helpful to keep each other accountable and focused on God if you are experiencing Lent together.
Reading the Bible
- Lent is a time of preparation for Easter, so it’s an ideal time to study and meditate on the moments leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection. You spend more time in the Word of God at Lent, not less.
- Jesus’ final command before his ascension was to “go and make disciples of all nations.” That shouldn’t stop during Lent. In fact, talking to your non-Christian friends about what you’re fasting from during Lent can be an opportunity for a spiritual conversation.