The 2022 Lenten season begins with Ash Wednesday on March 2nd and ends with Easter Sunday on April 17th. During this time, Christians prepare for Easter by deepening our spiritual lives through the traditional practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving… But what does that mean?
I break down these spiritual practices into concrete ways to observe Lent, with some bonus ideas of spiritual disciplines to add during Lent. If you’re looking to grow closer to God, try some of these good ideas for Lent.
Note: This post contains affiliate links, including Amazon links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I might earn a commission at no cost to you. However, I only recommend resources I trust. I want to make it easy for you to commit to one or more good ideas for Lent by suggesting optional supplemental materials.
10 Prayer Ideas for Lent
Prayer isn’t just a good idea for Lent–it’s an essential daily practice for Christians. However, I know I’ve struggled in the past to get into a good prayer routine. Whether you need help praying daily, or you’re looking for new prayer ideas for Lent, these prayer practices will get you started.
Don’t try to do all of these good ideas for Lent. Pick just one or two prayer ideas, and commit to them daily.
Every year, Arabah Joy hosts the Praying the Promises of the Cross Challenge. She’s put together a list of 40 scripture readings, each about a different promise from God. When you sign up, you’ll receive an email with a free printable that lists the entire 40 scripture readings. Take these, and pray one scripture daily.
This challenge is free, although you can buy optional study materials to help.
Learn more about why you should pray God’s promises daily.
Start a Prayer Journal
I actually have two prayer journals!
I keep one in my reading nook, along with my Bible, my devotions, and other Christian materials. Each morning, I write down any scripture that inspired me from my daily reading, and I try to write a prayer as well. Sometimes I don’t always end up writing out scripture or a prayer, but I do this multiple days per week.
My other prayer journal is at my desk. This is where I write prayers for other people, usually after reading their prayer requests on Facebook.
Writing my prayers helps me focus my thoughts.
Starting a prayer journal is a simple way to improve your prayer life during Lent.
Use Prayer Acronyms
Prayer acronyms can help you focus your prayers. I use ACTS most nights before bed.
Learn more prayer acronyms in this post on Christian prayer.
Pray the Lord’s Prayer Throughout the Day
The Lord’s Prayer is short, and it focuses our attention on God. We praise God, pray for God’s will, ask for provision, request forgiveness, promise to forgive others, ask for help against sin, and again praise God.
First thing in the morning, recite the Lord’s Prayer.
Say it again before each meal.
Recite this prayer before getting in the car.
Ask your kids to pray with you when you pick them up from school.
See how many times during the day you can stop and recite the Lord’s Prayer, truly thinking about what the words mean.
Expand Your Prayers with Prayer Prompts
My prayers can be repetitive from day to day. While it’s good that I’m always thanking God for my husband and our life together, I can do more through my prayers. These prayer prompts will challenge you to pray for new people and new situations every day.
- 31 Days of Prayer for Women
- 31 Days of Prayer for Your Spouse
- 31 Days of Prayer to Cultivate Gratitude
- 31 Days of Powerful Prayer for Leaders
Pray the Stations of the Cross
The Stations of the Cross refer to a series of artistic depictions of Jesus from His last day on earth. While the Stations of the Cross are most commonly found in Catholic churches, some Protestant churches have them as well.
Ideally, you would attend a Stations of the Cross prayer service. However, you can also pray the Stations of the Cross at home. These meditations and prayers will guide you through the Stations of the Cross.
Pray for Others
Ask for prayer requests. Follow up on them. You can do this in many ways.
- Post to social media, asking for people to share their prayer requests with you.
- Call a friend or family member each week, offering to pray for them.
- Send out a group email (use BCC!), asking for people to share their prayer requests with you.
- Keep track of prayer requests shared by your church.
Most importantly, follow up with prayer! On social media, I respond directly to prayer requests by writing out a prayer. When it’s appropriate to do so, I also reach out again later for an update. For some prayer requests, I write in my prayer journal, and I come back to that prayer multiple times.
Read a Prayer Book
Sometimes we struggle to find the right words to pray. While God wants to hear from us anyway, even with strong emotions and awkward ramblings, it’s also okay to read written prayers. I keep a copy of Hi God (It’s Me Again): What to Pray When You Don’t Know What to Say on my bedside table. You can also read my mom’s book of prayers.
I’ve also created a 7-day prayer guide for Holy Week, the final week of Lent. Each day includes scripture readings and prayers, plus space for prayer journaling. You can download this free!
Pray the Canonical Hours
Canonical hours divide the day with liturgical scripture readings and prayer spoken at regular intervals. Catholics and different Protestant denominations have their own traditions and long histories. For simplicity, I recommend you utilize an online resource or a book, and begin praying at morning, midday, and evening.
- Common Prayer (free website)
- The Divine Hours (Volume Three): Prayers for Springtime: A Manual for Prayer
- Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals
- Daily Prayer (free app from the Church of England)
Pray Against Temptation
Fasting is another key component of Lent. Whatever you decide to give up, pray about it. When you encounter temptation, pray for God’s deliverance. When you resist temptation, thank God for lending you Her strength. Each day, pray that God uses your fasting or your abstinence to nurture your faith.
10 Things to Give up During Lent
Christians approach fasting in multiple ways during Lent, depending on their specific faith tradition. This can include days of literally fasting (eating very little). For many Christians, we decide to give up something during Lent.
When I was in high school, many girls gave up chocolate or carbs for Lent. One year I gave up soda for Lent. While giving up a certain treat is one way to observe Lent, you can also give up certain behaviors that hurt your relationship with God.
These good ideas for Lent will draw you nearer to God as you discover balance and moderation in your life.
Social media is a tool. We can decide how to wield it, but unfortunately, many of us do not use social media carefully. Mindless scrolling, unnecessary arguing, endless comparing.
Consider deleting one social media app from your phone during Lent. Or try logging out of one social media platform from all of your devices. You can also choose to limit your time on all social media platforms to just 15 or 30 minutes a day–set a timer!
If you use social media for your blog or business, try scheduling your weekly posts every Sunday.
Streaming services like Netflix and Disney+ give viewers access to TV shows and movies on demand, without ads. While binge-watching a series can be one way to keep the story fresh in your mind over a few days or weeks, it can also lead to hours on the couch, disengaged from the rest of the world.
For Lent this year, consider pausing your streaming service subscriptions. What can you and your family do instead of streaming TV and movies? Read books. Play board games. Take walks.
How much money can you save by not subscribing to multiple services? Divide the savings between charitable giving and your emergency fund.
Screen Time Before Bed
You already know that screen time before bed can negatively impact your sleep. The blue light suppresses melatonin, and smart phone activity can keep your mind alert, not relaxed.
Stop all screen time at least half an hour (an hour is better) before bed. Use that time to read a book, to journal, to pray, or to do something else that relaxes you.
If your inbox is anything like me, it’s filled with tantalizing ads for new dresses, limited-edition makeup, and big sales from your favorite brands. It’s so easy to open these emails, click around, and spend $100 or more on pretty new things.
You can give up frivolous shopping for Lent. Make a list of necessities and stick to it. No online shopping. No extras at the grocery store.
You might even develop good spending habits that last after Lent!
I admit that my own house is messy and disorganized, and I know I’m not alone. One of my personal goals for Lent is to declutter. Clothes, shoes, books, etc. that no longer serve me, but could bless another family. If you want to join me in giving up clutter for Lent, here are a few ideas.
- Set a timer for 15 minutes each day. Declutter one small area in your home until the timer goes off.
- Choose one item each day to declutter.
- Clean out a different category each week: clothes, shoes/accessories, books, kitchen items, skincare/makeup, toys, home decor.
If anything is stained, tattered, or expired, throw it away. Gather items in good condition, and donate them to a local secondhand store, preferably a nonprofit.
What does it mean to gossip? It comes down to two basic things:
- Sharing information that may or may not be true
- In a mean-spirited way
(By the way, men gossip too).
Asking a spouse or a trusted friend for advice regarding an interpersonal situation is not gossip. Even venting about someone can be okay, if you keep it limited and factual.
But idly talking unkindly about someone else, even if it’s technically true, is gossip.
For Lent this year, give up gossip!
When your neighbors come over for dinner, don’t share negative news about your other neighbors.
Next time your parents call, stop them if they start divulging unflattering details about your siblings.
Don’t spread rumors, even about celebrities.
Choose truth, love, and kindness whenever you speak or post to social media.
Yes, life is hard. I’m living with depression, anxiety, and Crohn’s Disease. Inflation is shockingly high. Russia has invaded Ukraine. We all have genuine personal problems to manage in addition to handling societal issues.
However, constantly dwelling on the negative will not fix anything. You don’t have to pretend you’re okay, or fake positivity, but you can take certain steps to minimize negative thoughts and actions. Here are some ideas:
- Unfollow negative accounts on social media.
- Limit your daily news consumption.
- Whenever you realize you’re being critical of yourself, stop the negative thought. Say a positive affirmation instead.
- Keep a gratitude journal.
- Ask loved ones to pray for your struggles.
- Start therapy. This is a great way to work through some of your personal problems.
Alcohol is an indulgence that can turn into a vice if you aren’t careful. Personally, I participate in Dry January every year as a way to maintain a healthy relationship with alcohol. If you’ve never done Dry January or Oct-sober, Lent is the perfect time to abstain from alcohol.
Fast food and takeout are both delicious, convenient food options, but they usually aren’t the best for our wallets or our waistlines. If you want to be a better steward of God’s gifts (your finances and your body), take a fast from fast food.
During Lent this year, start cooking at home every night and packing a lunch for work. This will help you be more mindful of what you’re eating and how you’re spending money.
You can always enjoy a restaurant meal on Sundays, the traditional feast days during Lent. Just remember to tip your server well!
I am guilty of eating lunch at my desk. My husband and I also watch TV while we eat dinner. Unfortunately, multitasking meals can lead to distracted eating, which can cause overeating.
Enjoying food on its own is another way to be mindful of what you’re eating.
For Lent this year, consider implementing family dinners. Begin each meal in prayer. As a conversation starter, ask everyone to share their highs and lows from the day.
If you live alone, you can still set a nice table for yourself. Treat yourself like you would treat company. Set out a tablecloth or placemat. Play some instrumental music in the background. Pray before eating. Eat slowly, paying attention to each bite.
10 Ideas for Almsgiving During Lent
To put it simply, almsgiving is charitable acts. Almsgiving can be monetary donations, volunteer work, or even random acts of kindness.
If you choose any of the good ideas for Lent that help you save money, donate at least half of that money to your church or another nonprofit.
You can practice almsgiving even when money is tight for your family.
In our first year of marriage, my husband unexpectedly lost his job. During his unemployment, he spent entire days volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, and he helped older family members with projects around their homes. Donating your time can be just as charitable as donating money.
Learn More About Human Rights
Choose a specific human rights issue to study in detail. Some human rights issues are:
- human trafficking
- gender inequality
- housing insecurity
- food insecurity
Once you learn more about this problem and the detrimental effects on humankind, choose a nonprofit working to solve that issue. Vet the nonprofit on CharityWatch before making a donation.
You can also support one of multiple nonprofits working to help Ukraine right now.
Confession: I don’t tithe. My husband and I donate money to a variety of causes, but we are not yet donating 10% of our income.
If you’re at all like me, it’s okay, but we can do better. God calls us to do better.
Look at your budget. What can you cut? Try trimming 10% from all fun categories. Donate that to your church or to another nonprofit.
Work your way up to donating a full 10% of your income to charitable causes every year.
Perform Daily Acts of Charity
Doing acts of charity can be small. Look for small ways you can brighten someone else’s day.
- Do your spouse’s usual chores.
- Mow your neighbor’s lawn while you’re doing your own.
- Sign the guestbook whenever you visit a museum or cultural center. (Yes, this makes a difference!)
- Take a meal to new parents.
- Leave a big tip for your server.
- Pick up litter around your neighborhood or at the local park.
Good ideas for Lent don’t have to be big. You can honor God through consistent kindness to Her children.
The American Red Cross has declared a blood shortage crisis. The pandemic has led to a huge drop in blood drives. If you are healthy, consider donating blood. Find a blood donation location near you in the United States. If you live in another country, Google “donate blood near me.”
Pledge Monthly Support
Choose a creator, a nonprofit, a ministry, or something else to support on a monthly basis. Patreon and Substack are both great ways to provide financial support for creative people. Here are a few Christian creators to consider:
- Austin Channing Brown on Substack
- Christina Cleveland on Patreon
- Sarah Bessey on Substack
- Jo Luehmann on Patreon
Offer Tutoring Services
Is one of your classmates struggling? Offer to study with them.
Do you know a young person who needs extra help in an area of your expertise? Offer to tutor them.
Just 1-2 hours per week can really make a difference!
Offer Babysitting Services
If you have friends, neighbors, or siblings with children, offer to babysit for a few hours. Parents always need support, but they really need a break with the upheaval of the pandemic.
If you’re babysitting in their home, try to do a few simple chores while you’re there. Help the kids pick up their own toys. Take care of the dishes. These little things can make a big difference.
Donate Gently Used Goods
Even if you are not giving up clutter for Lent, you can still take some time to find items to donate.
What books will you not read again? Take these to the local library.
What clothes have you not worn in years? Drop these off at the local women’s shelter or another thrift store.
If you recently upgraded your phone, your camera, or another piece of technology, instead of selling your old one, consider giving it away.
Create Care Kits for the Homeless
Assemble care kits with food, water, toiletries, and more to keep in your car. When you come across a homeless person, you can hand them one of these care kits. Find great instructions on putting together a helpful care kit on All Gifts Considered.
Write Notes of Affirmation
Each week, take time to craft a handwritten letter to someone who needs encouragement. Be thoughtful and deliberate with your words.
In addition, you can also send an encouraging text message daily to a different person.
10 Spiritual Disciplines to Try During Lent
These final good ideas for Lent are not based on the three pillars of Lent. However, adding a new spiritual discipline to your life is another way to grow closer to God. You might already be doing some of these things, but what is one practice you can add to develop your faith?
Read the Bible Daily
Reading the Bible is so important for Christians to do on a regular basis.
Last year is when I started being more consistent with reading the Bible, but I have not yet achieved daily Bible reading. However, my commitment to Praying the Promises (see above) and reading a daily devotion (see below) will result in reading the Bible daily during Lent.
Here are some helpful resources on studying the Bible.
- How to Read the Bible (Easy Instructions for Beginners!)
- 7 Easy Steps to Bible Study for Beginners
- How to Study the Bible in 4 Simple Steps
Read a Daily Devotion
A daily devotion is an easy way to begin the practice of consistent quiet time with God. Last year I started with Jesus Calling, which led me to start doing Bible studies and longer devotionals.
John Pavlovitz, a pastor and prolific Christian writer, recently published a collection of devotions for Lent. Rise: An Authentic Lenten Devotional includes 46 Bible readings and devotions. (Note: I received a copy of this book to review).
While Lent is traditionally 40 days, the entire Lenten season is 46 days when including Sundays (feast days). Pavlovitz recognizes that Christians interested in a daily Lenten devotion come from different faith backgrounds. He wants this book to be accessible to all, including those who don’t have a tradition of feast days.
Each day begins with a passage from one of the Gospels, followed by a reflection. Most days end with some sort of encouragement, like a challenge to think in a new way or reassurance that God’s grace still covers you.
While I’ve already read the entire book over the span of a week, I’m excited to read through it each day of Lent. I plan on using it alongside my prayer journal.
Try Scripture Writing
Writing scripture forces you to slow down and really contemplate the words you’re reading. It’s good to become familiar with the Bible, but we don’t want to become complacent. Each time you read scripture, you want to look at it with fresh eyes and an open heart. Scripture writing is one way to help with that.
Part of Praying the Promises includes daily scripture writing!
Study Different Translations
Most of the time, I read the New Revised Standard Version. This is also what I quote here on Muddling Through Together. However, for my ongoing Bible study of the Psalms, I also purchased Robert Alter’s The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary. This has greatly deepened my Bible study, helping me engage more with the text.
I love the website Bible Gateway for studying different translations. I even support them with a paid membership!
Attend a Lenten Service from a Different Church
I was in high school the first time I attended a Good Friday service, at the invitation of my mom. Our home church didn’t offer extra services during Lent, but my mom missed the Lenten liturgical services from her childhood Lutheran church. She found a local church offering a Good Friday service, which we attended together.
Catholic churches and multiple different Protestant denominations offer worship opportunities throughout Lent, especially during Holy Week. Challenge yourself to discover what another faith community offers.
Try Highlighting Your Bible
If you’re looking for a new approach to Bible study, trying Bible highlighting. I started doing this with the daily Bible verses from Jesus Calling, and now I use Bible highlighting in my study of Psalms.
I follow suggestions from this Bible highlighting guide, but you can find other systems online, or develop your own. I use the pastel highlighters that are bundled with the guide.
Listen to a Sermon or Christian Podcast
If you’re anything like me, you listen to a rotation of radio stations in the car, or maybe a nerdy podcast during longer drives. For Lent this year, try swapping out those secular sounds for a sermon or Christian podcast.
Diversify Your Media
Honestly assess the media you consume. Books, magazines, blogs, and newspapers you read. TV shows, movies, and YouTube channels you watch. Social media. Music. Podcasts.
Who are the creators? Who are the subjects?
Look for media created by diverse voices, about experiences new to you. Sarah Bessey put together a great reading list of six books written with unique Christian perspectives.
Take Notes During the Sermon
I learn best by reading, not by listening. Consequently, I used to struggle to pay attention during church sermons. As much as I tried to focus, my mind kept wandering.
Until I started taking notes. By doing an activity that engaged my body and my mind, I found it easier to focus on the sermon and actually learn from it. Plus, I could look over my notes later to review what I had learned.
Take notes on each sermon during Lent. See what you end up learning!
Jesus memorized scripture! In the Gospels, He routinely quotes the Old Testament. We should all be more like Jesus, and memorizing scripture is one way to follow Him.
Knowing scripture by heart gives us wisdom, comfort, and hope whenever we need it, even if we don’t have our Bible handy. Personally, I’ve recited the 23rd Psalm to myself over and over in times of fear and anxiety. Here are tips to get started with memorizing scripture.
Final Thoughts on Good Ideas for Lent
I hope you find encouragement from these 40 good ideas for Lent. Making just a few deliberate changes during the Lenten season will not only prepare your heart for Easter, but those changes can also lead to lifelong habits.
What good ideas for Lent would you add to my list? How do you plan on observing Lent this year?
Looking to learn more about the Lenten season? Check out these other posts!