Are you ready to get serious about your relationship with Jesus? Maybe you’re one of the millions already scrolling through page after page, site after site, to find something significant or meaningful to give up for Lent. If you aren’t sure what to give up for Lent, get alone with God and pray. Use a journal if needed. Chances are God is already showing you how he wants to partner with you because Lent is a wilderness journey for many Christians wanting to dive deeper into their relationship with God. It’s a chance to get free of the shackles you may be in.
What Is Lent?
The word “Lent” comes from a Saxon word that meant “length.” It originally referred to the springtime season in the Northern Hemisphere when the days were lengthening, and signs of new life were appearing. In Eastern churches, Lent begins on the Monday of the seventh week before Easter and ends on Friday, that is nine days before Easter. This 40-day “Great Lent” includes Saturdays and Sundays as relaxed fast days.
There are actually 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, but Sundays during Lent are not considered “prescribed.” Lent begins each year on Ash Wednesday, 46 days before Easter Sunday. This year Lent will start on February 22nd, 2023, and if you are following the 40 days tradition, Lent will end on Holy Saturday, April 8th, 2023.
Ash Wednesday is the First Day of Lent
The purpose of Ash Wednesday is to focus your heart on prayer and repentance through communion and confession. In the Catholic Church tradition, a priest places ashes on the head to represent the dust of the earth from which we are made. The priest usually recites, "remember that you are from dust and to dust you will return."
These ashes help symbolize the grief of our sins and the need for repentance. It is the start of the Lent season in which the goal is to purify hear and soul, control desires, and pursue holiness, in preparation for Easter.
Why Do We Give Up Things for Lent?
Lent is based on the time Jesus went into the desert and fasted for 40 days. However, others believe it is based on the biblical significance of the number 40 — specifically, the 40 years the Israelites wandered in the desert and the 40 days of Jesus being in the wilderness.
It’s a time of inner reflection, self-sacrifice, denial, and repentance. If something has a grip on you, more than likely, it’s become unhealthy. It may or may not be an idol. Lent season is an opportunity to grow closer to God, to remember Jesus’ life and death, and to focus more on him and less on ourselves and our busy schedules. Many Christians also use Lent to study their Bibles and pray more intensively, using the many devotional books and courses now available. In fact, according to an article by Christianity Today, 20% of Protestants, as a whole (including 28% of Evangelicals) observe Lent in some capacity, even if their home churches don’t.
What to Give Up for Lent? Try these 30 Great Ideas
10 Simple Things to Give Up for Lent
1. Using words that don’t glorify God.
2. Meat. You can be a vegetarian for 40 days, or give up meat on Fridays, or give up red meat. Whatever it is, make it meaningful to you.
3. Soda. It’s not good for you anyway.
4. Pizza. You may be one of the millions obsessed with it, give it up.
5. Clutter. If it doesn’t bring you joy… If it prevents you from being organized…
6. Sugar. Did you know a teaspoon of sugar has the ability to lower your immune system for three to four hours? Enough said.
7. Dining out. All forms of fast food and restaurants.
8. Online shopping. If those Amazon memes hit home, you know it may be a good time to try this.
9. Netflix, Hulu. All forms of watching tv, movies or any of your shows.
10. Dairy. This means cheese, lasagna, milk, you name it.
10 Meaningful Things to Give Up for Lent
1. TV. If it’s become a way to escape the day or if it’s taken place of quality time spent with God, your family, your friends, or working out, it really needs to go. Are the shows you’re watching hindering your relationship with God or not?
2. Not exercising. Make this the time to get healthy. Sacrifice the time in front of the tv to be active. Take care of the body God gave you. Try Jazzercise, yoga, walks, sign up to train for a 5K. If you struggle with your emotions, especially anger, consider kickboxing.
3. Your morning latte and all forms of caffeine. Save the money and tithe to a specific fund at your church.
4. Makeup. This may be something to consider if you spend hours in front of the mirror instead of in the Bible. If you have issues with your appearance or feel insecure about your looks or if you are so attached to your eyeliner that you can’t leave the house without it. Now is a good time.
5. Replacing one of your mealtimes with reading the Bible.
6. Fast from a bad habit. Is it smoking? Late-night eating? Gossip?
7. Your hobby. It doesn’t matter if your hobby is reading fiction, golf, fishing, etc. Use that time during Lent for spiritual labor.
8. Your phone. Instead of having it in your hand 24 hours a day, give it up. As soon as you get home from work, dock it somewhere in the house. Keep it out of your bedroom. Just because it’s your only source of communication doesn’t mean you have to ignore phone calls. Be sure to tell your friends and family you are giving up your phone at 6 p.m. so they know how to get a hold of you.
9. Social Media. All platforms. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. ALL. OF. IT. If it’s taken precedence over time with Jesus, friends, and family, if it makes you feel insecure, if you often have a case of FOMO, it’s time. This is the perfect opportunity to surrender this “high place,” this platform, this idol.
10. Masturbation. Being sexually pure is something God truly wants for you. This includes porn and sex outside of marriage too.
10 Unique Things to Give Up for Lent
2. Gluten. Your body may be inflamed because of how much gluten you consume. This may be the perfect time to take your health seriously and give it up.
3. Alcohol. Yes, friends, wine is included in this category. And Beer, Bourbon, Whiskey, Cocktails, Martinis. ALL FORMS OF ALCOHOL.
4. Music. All forms of music except worship music.
5. Sleeping in. Instead, get up early to spend time with Jesus. Get up at 5 a.m. so it’s nothing but you, Jesus, a Bible, and a pen.
6. Give up transportation. Walk or bike to work.
7. Sex. Enough said.
8. Plastic. God ordained us to rule of the earth, this includes taking care of it.
9. Work. As in working late or putting work in front of your health, your family, or even time with God.
10. Spending freeze for 40 days. Give up shopping other than the basic essentials.
20 Additional Things to Give Up for Lent
These are less traditional, but all good things worth giving up during Lent. Giving up on some of them may lead to healthy habits you can practice throughout the year.
10 Unhealthy Things to Give Up for Lent
1. Resentments. Is there anyone in your life that you harbor resentment toward? Now is a good time to let those feelings go and pursue forgiveness.
2. Snacks. Do you have something sugary or starchy you regularly eat between meals? Is it helping or hindering your health?
3. Arguments with your spouse. Make a deliberate choice to use calm discussion tactics (like each person writing down their concerns) when you disagree on something.
4. Nagging your children. Do you only really talk to your kids when they forget something? Lent is a great time to try something new, like chatting over hobbies.
5. Conflict avoidance. It's never fun having a hard conversation with a coworker or family member, but avoidance only delays the pain.
6. Not sending thank-you cards. You know you need to say "thank you."
7. Forgetting to talk with loved ones. You don't have to answer every text from your third cousin, but you can find time to answer more messages and send thank-you cards.
8. Not wearing sunscreen. Don't forget to take care of your skin when you go outside.
9. Soft office chairs. Do some good for your back and try standing at your office.
10. Ignoring chores. Remember that car oil change or garage cleaning you've been putting off? This month is a good time to face that.
10 Recreational Things to Give Up for Lent
1. Books you will never read. Free up the shelf space if it's been on your shelf for a few years and you know you'll never read it.
2. Light reading material. Exchange your "quick Bible quotes" book for something more contemplative, like a classic Christian book.
3. Radio. Instead of listening to car commercials and pop music on the way to work, pop in an Easter hymn CD or a sermon.
4. Excessive video game playing. Your Fortnite account will still be there when Lent is over.
5. Phones at dinner. Make a rule for everyone to leave their phones off at dinner, so you can all have a conversation instead.
6. Family movie night. Trade watching movies or TV as a family for a game night or something else that requires in-person engagement.
7. Late-night activities. Turn in early to get extra rest and maybe rise earlier for devotions and Bible readings.
8. Unwanted toys. If you've got games or toys (for kids or pets) that everyone has outgrown in the closet or garage, consider donating them.
9. Electronics. Get off your game app and play a puzzle instead, or pick something else that doesn't have cords, screens or computer chips.
10. Traveling far away. Instead of hitting the big tourist destinations, look for local venues or activities that you didn't know about.
Whatever God leads you to give up for Lent, may it serve as a powerful decision to pursue more of God and less of self!
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When is Lent?
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Lent Scriptures and Bible Verses
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Heather Riggleman is a believer, wife, mom, author, social media consultant, and full-time writer. She lives in Minden, Nebraska with her kids, high school sweetheart, and three cats who are her entourage around the homestead. She is a former award-winning journalist with over 2,000 articles published. She is full of grace and grit, raw honesty, and truly believes tacos can solve just about any situation. You can find her on GodUpdates, iBelieve, Crosswalk, Hello Darling, Focus On The Family, and in Brio Magazine. Connect with her at www.HeatherRiggleman.com or on Facebook.