You may think of Lent as hard, somber, or only for Catholics, but like more and more Christ-followers, you can find your Lent journey to be a blessing filled with God’s abundant grace.
My experience is that Lent is like the easy yoke of Jesus: It can seem hard to get into it, but once you do, you discover it to be the best life!
Lent starts with Ash Wednesday. It’s a forty day journey of the cross that prepares us for Easter’s resurrection — and to live with resurrection joy and power every day of the year!
I find it especially helpful during Lent and Holy Week to immerse myself in the Gospel stories of Jesus and his cross. I’ve written a 68-page guide to share this journey with you: Unforsaken: With Jesus on the Stations of the Cross. Whether you use this resource, or your own readings of the Gospel accounts, soaking in Jesus’ grace, power, and empathy for you will make your lent journey a blessing.
In this article, we will explore:
- Lent in Jesus’ Easy Yoke
- A Fresh Perspective on Ancient Lenten Practices
- Helpful Resources to Guide You
Let’s begin by looking at Jesus’ invitation for you this Lent…
Drawn In By the Radiant Smile!
“Come to me,” Jesus says. To fully receive and embrace his invitation, you’ve got to see his smile shining over you like sunlight and his arms open to you like a mother when her little child comes running to her!
The Lord Jesus knows when you feel “weary and burdened” and he promises, “I will give you rest.” He explains, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30)
We may wince at the thought of being like a young ox that’s yoked to another ox in order to pull a plow across a field! But in the analogy Jesus is the lead ox that we’re connecting with! And he assures us that to get into his yoke is to learn to walk in his “rhythms of grace.” (Matt. 11:28-30 MSG)
This Makes Lent “Easy”!
Many Christians don’t practice Lent. Few people think of it as “easy.” But in truth Lent becomes an easy yoke when we keep going deeper in our appreciation of the mercy and grace of Christ and we learn how to apply it to our daily life.
Traditionally, the discipline of Lent is to fast from something, but not as an end in itself. Self-denial is like medicine — it helps us when we need comfort and strength.
The purpose of denying yourself something is to engage more deeply with the God who loves you with great delight! We turn our faces up to Christ dying on the cross for our sins and see through his anguish and into the radiant, undying love of God that’s on his face and in his words.
You know from your own experience that when you learn with the Lord’s help to deny yourself something, whether extra desserts or angry words, it makes your life easier and better!
So for Lent you might fast from meals periodically in order to focus on Scripture meditation and intercession for others. Or you might limit the time you spend watching television or social media in order to make space to connect with Christ in the Gospels and share with a soul friend.
Practices for Your Lent Journey
Those of us who did not grow up observing Lent may be most familiar with the practice of fasting — perhaps being told by a friend what they had “given up for Lent.” But fasting is only one aspect of Lent and even that can be practiced in different ways.
Let’s look more closely at the three classic practices of Lent reimagined.
Fasting, prayer, and generosity are the three classic Lenten disciplines. Often they are practiced in the same ways each year, but we want to suggest some fresh approaches!
Fasting: Cultivating a Heart That is Hungry for God
God gives us so many good gifts to be enjoyed. But, in our fallenness, we can become too satisfied with the things of this world. Even good gifts and blessings can become idols in our lives.
Lent is an opportunity to ask Jesus to reveal an area that he is inviting you to release. This could be an area of dysfunction or sin. It could also be an invitation to let go of something in your life that is keeping you from experiencing Jesus’ love in a deeper way.
Whatever you choose to fast from, the aim is to cultivate a heart that hungers for Jesus. Our Hungry Heart Scriptures offer an opportunity to meditate on Scripture to foster this longing for God.
Prayer: Experiencing a Fresh Practice
The 40 days of Lent can be an opportunity to try a new approach to prayer! This article outlines many different prayer practices with related resources to try, including…
- Breath Prayer
- Praying the Hours
- Centering Prayer
- Prayer of Examen
Generosity: Reconsidering Charity
How can you be generous in this season? By giving money or providing for those in need? That may be exactly what Jesus is inviting you to do!
And perhaps there’s something else, or something more…
The true meaning of charity is love. And so how can you give and receive love generously this Lent?
In his book,The Good of Giving Up, author Aaron Damiani (who Kristi and I have enjoyed getting to know at our Soul Shepherding Institute!) describes the traditional practice of “almsgiving” as an adventure of overflowing the abundance we have received into the lives of those around us: “Biblical generosity is a posture of openness to bless our neighbor with our personal presence, our love, and, in some cases, our resources.”
Here are a few ideas to practice generosity this Lent:
- Giving the gift of your undivided presence
- Reaching out in love to someone you might normally overlook
- Enjoying praying for or donating to a Christian Mission/Missionary
Enjoy the adventure of blessing your world through acts of love with Jesus.
The Heart of Lent
The heart of any Lenten practice is the desire to seek Jesus, to know him better, and to bless others.
It is also an opportunity to consider personal holiness — and this may look different for everyone because Jesus invites each of us to experience his light and life and break free from the chains of this world!
How will you prepare for Easter this year with Jesus?
Let Me Guide You
I’d be honored to guide you through the days of Lent and show you step-by-step how following Jesus as he carries his cross for you and taking up your cross with him can become a surprisingly easy yoke for you. Soul Shepherding has two resources that you can choose from to use for Lent:
In both books you’ll be drawn into a captivating intimacy with Christ!
You’ll discover fresh insights in Bible studies that focus on the person of Christ and inspire your “apprenticeship” to the Master of Life.
And you’ll learn about your personal stress points and how to pray through them and relax in Jesus’ easy yoke. Yes, even when you’re stressed you can live a more relaxed life with your sweet and strong Savior at your side!
You’ll be doubly blessed to share this journey with a friend or your small group as the books are made for experiencing and sharing!
A Prayer for Guidance
Thank you Lord Jesus for guiding each of us individually. You instruct us to take up our cross and follow you and yet in every situation we are invited to come and be with you in your easy yoke. As we prepare our hearts for Easter, guide us in your paths. Give us a fresh experience of your Spirit. May we understand your sacrifice and experience your love more deeply! Amen.
May you experience Jesus’ power and grace in your lent journey this year, and may it overflow blessing from your life into the lives of everyone around you!