“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”
During Lent, traditionally observed for the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday, followers of Christ all around the world sacrifice things important to them, intentionally drawing themselves away from desires driven by their five senses. Lent helps us become more focused on the spiritual part of ourselves, preparing our hearts to genuinely experience the passion of Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the Cross. Lent draws us closer to God through purposeful prayer, self-denial, repentance, giving, and time in the Bible:
- Prayer. We thank God for reaching out to transform us, and we ask for direction and insight. Consider asking God to help you see people the way He sees them.
- Self-denial. Fasting means food, but we may also give up certain activities we enjoy. What things do you think about most? Food? Coffee? Sweets? Social media? Television and entertainment? Commit to go without at least one between now and Easter.
- Repentance. When our thoughts drift to ourselves, that’s our cue to connect with God, asking Him to show us our weaknesses and sins. We ask Him to forgive us and change our hearts.
- Giving. We freely offer whatever we have to those in need. It could be money contributed to worthy charities, our time, our talents. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or shelter. Visit the elderly. Write letters of prayer and encouragement to orphans. Give intentionally to people who can’t repay you.
- Scripture Reading. YouVersion has 5 Reading Plans specifically designed to help you center your life on God and His Word during this special time of reflection and purpose:
- Words of Jesus During Passion Week. In parallel passages from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, read what Jesus said during the week before His crucifixion. From Glo Bible. 12 days
- Lent For Everyone. Each day features a selection from Matthew, followed by reflections from renowned New Testament scholar N.T. (Tom) Wright. From SPCK. 53 days
- 40 Days of Lent. This 47-day plan walks chronologically through the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ last week of earthly ministry, with each Sunday offering a day of rest. From Journey Church. 47 days
- Devotions for Lent from Holy Bible: Mosaic. Designed to help you focus on Christ, this 46-day devotional includes Scripture and quotes and readings from Christians worldwide. From Holy Bible: Mosaic. 46 days
- The Story of Easter. Relive the last week of Jesus’ life on earth through fulfilled prophecies, intimate prayer, deep discussions, symbolic acts, and world-changing events. From LifeChurch.tv. 7 days
“…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
What combination of these five—prayer, self-denial, repentance, giving, and Scripture reading—will you commit to for Lent this year?