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70 Ideas for What to Give Up for Lent: 2024 Fasting Guide

Here are 70 of our favorite and most popular ideas for what to give up for Lent.

GodUpdates Contributor
Updated Feb 14, 2024
70 Ideas for What to Give Up for Lent: 2024 Fasting Guide

As the spring blooms and the days lengthen, a centuries-old tradition beckons millions around the globe to embark on a journey of self-reflection, discipline, and spiritual growth. Lent, the 40-day period leading up to Easter, presents an opportunity for believers to engage in a symbolic pilgrimage of sacrifice and renewal. 

The age-old question resurfaces each year: What to give up for Lent? In a world bustling with constant distractions and demands, the quest for a meaningful Lenten sacrifice becomes more relevant than ever. Whether you're a seasoned Lenten observer or a curious soul considering the path of self-discipline, this guide aims to inspire and assist you in finding a personal sacrifice that resonates with the spirit of Lent. 

70 Things to Give Up for Lent: Table of Contents

Lent Begins on Ash Wednesday

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, where the goal is to purify heart and soul, control desires, and pursue holiness in preparation for Easter. 

Why Do We Give Up Things for Lent?

Fasting during Lent is a religious practice observed by many Christians as a period of penance, reflection, and preparation leading up to Easter. Lent is a season that lasts for 40 days (excluding Sundays) and is intended to replicate the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness before beginning his public ministry.

What Are the Rules for Lent?

While there are no set rules for Lent, there are some common practices observed by many.

The specific practices during Lent, including fasting, vary among Christian denominations, but the general idea is to engage in self-discipline, spiritual reflection, and repentance. Fasting during Lent often involves abstaining from certain foods or activities as a way of expressing solidarity with Jesus' sacrifice and reflecting on one's own need for repentance and spiritual growth.

In addition to fasting, people may also engage in other spiritual practices such as Lenten prayers, almsgiving (charitable acts), and attending religious services. The goal is to deepen one's relationship with God, seek forgiveness for sins, and prepare for the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday.

What to Give Up for Lent: 70 Practical Ideas

Here is a collection of seventy things to give up for Lent as you focus your time and mental energy more on the spiritual life, preparing for the celebration of Easter!

10 Most Common Things to Give Up for Lent

Traditional practices during Lent often involve giving up certain indulgences or activities as a form of penance, reflection, and spiritual discipline. Here are ten traditional things that people might choose to give up for Lent:

1. Meat: Abstaining from meat, especially on Fridays, is a common traditional practice during Lent.

2. Desserts and Sweets: Sacrificing indulgent treats and sweets is a way to practice self-discipline.

3. Alcohol: Many people choose to abstain from alcoholic beverages as a form of self-control and reflection.

4. Smoking: Giving up smoking is considered a significant sacrifice for those looking to improve their health during Lent.

5. Screen Time: Limiting or eliminating screen time can provide more time for prayer, reflection, and other spiritual activities.

6. Gossiping: Fasting from gossip and negative speech is a traditional way to promote kindness and self-awareness.

7. Excessive Shopping: Cutting back on unnecessary purchases and material consumption is a way to focus on simplicity and gratitude.

8. Caffeine: Some individuals choose to give up or limit their intake of caffeinated beverages as a form of self-discipline.

9. Luxury or Extravagant Spending: Choosing to live more frugally during Lent is a way to focus on stewardship and generosity.

10. Personal Comforts: Sacrificing personal comforts or conveniences, such as taking cold showers or sleeping without a pillow, is a traditional way to practice self-denial.

10 Easy Things to Give Up for Lent

1. Scrolling: Excessive time on social media takes up more of your day than you think! Limiting screen time can be a simple way to provide more time with the Lord.

2. Spending: Set a no-spend day each week during Lent to focus on what God has already provided for you.

3. Snoozing: Challenge yourself to get out of bed at your first alarm. This is good for your daily energy and can provide time to start your day in prayer or Scripture.

4. Swearing: Spend Lent focusing on your vocabulary and using language that is honoring to God.

5. Drive-Thrus: Take the time to park and walk inside your typical drive-thru spot. Spend the extra time to yourself in prayer as you give up that convenience.

6. Snacking: If giving up snacking in full is too difficult or will affect your energy, try dividing snacks into individual snack bags based on serving size to limit endless snacking.

7. Binge-watching: Set a schedule for your TV show-watching, 1 episode per day or space it out even more to once a week (like the old days!)

8. Being Late: Lent is the perfect season to reflect on your use of time and find ways to stay on schedule.

9. Overscheduling Yourself: If you typically have plans after work every day, try setting aside 1-2 evenings per week for yourself and time with God.

10. Speeding: While not speeding is a good practice year-round, Lent can be a time to be more intentional and safe with your driving. Spend the extra few minutes in the car in prayer!

10 Things for Kids to Give Up for Lent

1. Favorite Game: Whether it's a video game or a certain toy, giving up their favorite game helps you understand the sacrificial nature of Lent.

2. Soda: Drinking water or juice throughout Lent can be a great alternative and teaches kids that giving up sugary pop can actually make you feel better too.

3. Spot on the Couch: Choose to give up the comfiest spot in your house throughout Lent.

4. Competitiveness: Spend Lent focusing on helping others succeed rather than winning in competition.

5. Spot in Line: Allow others to cut in front of you throughout Lent.

6. Procrastination: Kids can benefit greatly from abstaining from procrastination and learning to check things off the to-do list!

7. Screens Before Bed: Turn screens off at least 2 hours before bed and spend that time reading, talking with your family, or in fellowship with the Lord.

8. Dessert: If desserts are a part of your daily routine, then try skipping dessert at least 3 days a week during Lent.

9. Excessive Energy Use: Remembering the importance of conserving energy by turning off lights and electronics when not in use is beneficial.

10. Complaining: This one is challenging, but putting effort into limiting complaining is good for your spirit and relationship with the Lord.

10 Foods to Fast From for Lent

During Lent, some people choose to give up certain foods as a form of sacrifice and reflection. Here are ten common foods that individuals often choose to give up:

1. Chocolate: A popular choice, as it is a sweet indulgence.

2. Sweets and Candy: This includes candies, desserts, and sugary treats.

3. Sugary Drinks: Giving up sugary beverages is a common Lenten sacrifice.

4. Fast Food: Avoiding fast food and opting for healthier, homemade meals is another common choice.

5. Meat: Many people choose to abstain from eating meat, especially on Fridays during Lent.

6. Alcohol: Giving up alcoholic beverages is a common practice for those observing Lent.

7. Coffee: Some people choose to give up coffee or limit their caffeine intake during Lent.

8. Fried Foods: Avoiding fried foods is a way to promote healthier eating habits during this period.

9. Processed Foods: Steering clear of highly processed foods can be a way to focus on whole, natural foods.

10. Dairy Products: Some individuals choose to give up dairy products, such as milk and cheese, during Lent.

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 the 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 (laziness). 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 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 something 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 for 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.

Hardest Things to Give Up for Lent

A new poll asked 8,000 people to name the hardest things to give up for the 40 days of Lent. Here were the seven most challenging things to give up:

1. Watching TV or using streaming services. 29% said it would be the hardest thing to give up. 

2. Caffeine, 19%.

3. Social networking, 11%. (#1 answer for young people. 24% of people 18-24 said it is the hardest, compared to just 7% of people over 55.)

4. Chocolate, also 11% overall.

5. Soda, 7%.

6. Alcohol, 6%.

7. Fast food, 5%.

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!

Download your FREE copy of our 40-Day Lent and Easter Devotional  - filled with daily Scriptures, reflections, and prayers for the Lent season. 

When is Lent?
Prayers for Lent
Lent Scriptures and Bible Verses

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/FREDERICA ABAN

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.  

Learn more about the meaning and significance behind the Easter holiday and Holy Week celebrations:

What is Lent? and When Does Lent Start?
What is Ash Wednesday? and When is Ash Wednesday?
What is Palm Sunday?
What is Maundy Thursday?
What is Good Friday? and When is Good Friday?
What is Holy Saturday?

What is Easter? and When is Easter Sunday?
Easter Bible Verses
The Resurrection of Jesus 
Easter Prayers


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