Check out these great Lenten Exercises from our friends at St. Thomas’ Church, Whitemarsh.
It is traditional to take something on and give something up during Lent. Daily spiritual practices build strong Christians. Lent is an ideal time to develop such a practice, which transforms us from the inside out, shapes our character and strengthens our faith.
Choose one or more of the following spiritual practices:
- Attend church every Sunday in Lent, honoring the Sabbath, even when you are out of town or traveling. If you cannot worship with us in the morning, attend our Faith at Five worship service at 5 p.m. each Sunday in the new chapel. Give yourself a full day to rest in God, turn off electronics, read, walk, nap, cook a good meal and savor time with friends, family and God. You will wonder why you aren’t doing this every Sunday.
- Attend the Discovery Hour each Sunday or our Wednesday Lenten program on facing down temptations and make spiritual formation a priority in your life.
- Read a portion of Scripture each day. Consider slowly and meditatively reading through the Gospel of John during Lent or reading A Journey with John: The 50-Day Bible Challenge edited by our rector. Copies are available free at church.
- Read the 2017 Lenten Devotional with daily Scripture readings and an accompanying meditation written by St. Thomas’ members, clergy and staff.
- Set aside 10 to 15 minutes each day to pray. There are many ways to go about this. Your clergy would be honored to meet and discuss them with you. Prayer is like mindfulness, only better, less fad-like and proven successful for perhaps 5,000 years!
- Select five people to pray for each day. For yourself, select three traits to pray for daily, asking God to assist you in strengthening gifts such as faith, gentleness, integrity, patience, compassion, or humility.
- Read a spiritual book. You know, one of those books you swear you are going to read one day. We suggest authors such as Sr. Joan Chittister, Thomas Merton, C.S. Lewis, Esther de Waal, Margaret Guenther, Martin Smith, Barbara Crafton, Thomas Keating or Basil Pennington.
- Go and receive confession. It’s awesome! Seriously, you feel spiritually lighter and unburdened after meeting with a priest for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Our clergy are so gentle in their approach. It sounds scary, but it’s so worth doing.
- Learn to say grace together as a family each night before dinner. It will help you savor the meal and add peace, substance and gratitude.
- Call, write a letter or send a card each day to a friend or family member with whom you have not been in regular touch. Resurrect 40 relationships by Easter. In this electronic age, surprise those you love with a heartfelt, old-fashioned message.
- Give alms throughout Lent. Carry around lots of $1 bills and distribute them to those in need or make a special contribution to the church to care for the poor.
- Tithe for Lent (give 10% of what you earn each day to God) for 40 days. It will transform your life and things will happen in your life that you never expected.
- Take a meditative walk each week on the St. Thomas’ labyrinth and sense God’s path for your future starting to unfold and become clearer.
- Sign up to cook for Church of the Advocate, and if you are able, help serve the meals you have made at Church of the Advocate’s soup kitchen. This is an intergenerational opportunity for all ages. Contact Robin Worgan to sign up at email@example.com.
- Anyone in 9th grade or older can help tutor students at the St. James School during their Academic Clinics which usually occur on the second Saturday of each month. Click this link for more information and to sign up: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/60b0f45abad2fa02-stjames
Things to consider giving up:
- Look at what comes between you and other people. Chances are, it’s also a problem between you and God. Is it your phone? TV? Facebook? Let at least one thing go for 40 days that is getting between God and you.
- Simplify your life and your home by collecting and donating forty items over forty days. Each day remove one item from your closet or home, put it in a large trash bag or box and bring it to the barn after March 15 to be resold at our Second Saturday Sales. It will benefit someone who could really use it and raise money for outreach.
- Fast throughout Lent by missing one meal each day and eating lightly at other meals. Do it for spiritual reasons, not as a diet. You will be rewarded by greater clarity in prayer and ability to sense God’s voice and call in your life, as well as by weight loss and a feeling of being happier and healthier.
- Give up alcohol for Lent. If you cannot give it up for 40 days, you probably should give it up for life.
- Fast from gossiping. Do you like to keep in the know about other people’s lives, and do you call, email or tell others, thinking you are doing them a service? Perhaps your tongue is more dangerous than you think.
- Give up going to Starbucks or Wawa each day for coffee, save the money and give it to God or to a charitable cause at the end of Lent.
- Fast from complaining and criticizing. The average parent criticizes a child 25 times a day before they get to school. Fast from negative words and criticisms. Transform relationships around by you bridling your tongue for Lent.
- Give up dessert for Lent. It’s a small thing to do, but will keep you somewhat mindful of Jesus’ temptations in the desert. Do it for spiritual reasons.
- Fast electronically, by limiting the time that you spend using electronic devices each day. Reduce the number of emails and texts you send. Make a few additional phone calls. Let people hear your beautiful voice.
- Give up luxuries for Lent. Stop ordering from catalogues and shopping. More than half of the 1.2 billion people in India live on less than $2 a day.
- Give up watching television for Lent. Read a book. Have a conversation. Give your mind and spirit a break from the almighty screen.
- Fast from social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or Tumblr) for Lent. Go cold turkey on one of these.
- Participate in a carbon fast for Lent, taking 40 small, achievable steps during the 40 days of Lent. Reduce your environmental footprint by cutting down on energy and water usage, waste and travel, and to consider the environmental impact of food. To learn more, visit The Carbon Fast for Lent is here http://acen.anglicancommunion.org/media/207648/Carbon-fast-2016.pdf or The Green Anglicans Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/GreenAnglicans
To print, click here: Lenten Exercises