Habits of Lent

March 7, 2022

I think it’s safe to describe Lent 2020 as the Lentiest Lent I’ve ever Lented.1 When Lent 2021 came around, I was still pretty exhausted and the idea of “observing Lent” felt overwhelming, a bridge too far. Now it’s 2022, and while I’m in a better place than the last two years, there’s still been a lot of daily fasting in my life, and the idea of following “the custom of the Church to prepare for by a season of penitence and fasting”2 continues to feel a bit overwhelming.  

In my pondering about keeping Lent this year, I keep finding myself drawn back to these words from the opening of the Ash Wednesday service liturgy from The Book of Common Prayer: “I invite you, therefore, in the name of the church, to the observance of a holy Lent: by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and alms-giving; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.”3 So if, like me, you are struggling to imagine adding in more fasting this year, because, the last two years have been a continuous fast in one way or another, here are a few ideas for observing Lent: 

Expand your prayer habit.  

“…a book of prayers can help spark you imagination as well as giving you words for when you are stuck.”

Perhaps you could decide to expand how often you pray—adding in a short noon prayer time. If you want to expand this beyond a two minute pause at noon, consider using the “Midday Prayer” service (or the shorter “Family Prayer” version) from The Book of Common Prayer (BCP).4 Or perhaps you could expand who you pray for and how you pray. In addition to the many collects in the BCP, a book of prayers can help spark your imagination as well as giving you words for when you are stuck. Morning and Evening Prayers by Cornelius Plantiga5 is a recently published compendium of 30 days of thoughtful prayers for morning and evening.  

Expand your scripture reading habit. 

If you already read scripture regularly, expanding your scripture reading habit might mean adding a few minutes onto the time you already have set aside in your day. Perhaps you might add another passage from elsewhere in the Bible each day, adding a Psalm to your passage from the current book of the Bible you are reading through, or you might decide to read one of the sets of eight verses from Psalm 119 each day, meditating on God’s words as you do so.  

If you don’t already have a scripture reading habit but want to add this in for Lent this year, it could be as easy as taking a ritual that already exists in your day and adding scripture reading as the next thing in your routine (i.e. a habit stack)—for example, turning on the coffee maker as you pick up your Bible and read until the coffee maker is done. If it helps you to set a goal or have a plan, look for a reading plan, which could be as simple as the “Daily Office Lectionary” (near the end of The Book of Common Prayer)6, or you could pick up a book like Isaiah by the Day 7 by Alec Moyter, using the sections and corresponding thoughtful prompts to spark deeper reflections. 

“…it could be as easy as taking a ritual that already exists in your day and adding scripture reading as the next thing in your routine…”

Expand (or start) your scripture memorization habit.  

How long has it been since you memorized a passage of scripture? (I will confess it has been a long time for me.) Another way you could “meditate on God’s holy Word” this Lent is to memorize a passage of scripture. You could choose a few verses, a psalm or chapter, or a longer passage (perhaps even all of one of the shorter letters in the New Testament). Working a little bit each day on this habit can result in large gains. 

Expand your knowledge of men and women of faith. 

One of the things we often neglect in the Protestant Christian traditions is intentionally and regularly remembering individual legacies from the Cloud of Witnesses. If you’re interested in adding a historical take on the Christian faith as part of your Lenten journey, consider picking up a biography of one or more saints (perhaps something like All Saints8), or participating in the light-hearted “Lent Madness”9 experience with the goal of learning more about these women and men who have gone before us in race. 

I hope and pray that one (or more) of these ideas provides you with a jumping off point for observing a holy Lent that brings you closer to God. “And to make a right beginning, let us now pray for grace that we may faithfully keep this Lent. 

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made, and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”10 

About the Author
  • Kayt Frisch is a wife and mother who serves an Associate Professor of Engineering at George Fox University. When not teaching in the classroom she can be found building relationships over good food, good coffee and board games, or hiking with her family.

  1. Thanks to Fr. Sean Flannery for first describing it that way  

  2. ACNA. The Book of Common Prayer. “Ash Wednesday” (2019)  

  3. ACNA. The Book of Common Prayer. “Ash Wednesday” (2019)  

  4. https://bcp2019.anglicanchurch.net/index.php/downloads/  

  5. https://smile.amazon.com/Morning-Evening-Prayers-Cornelius-Plantinga/dp/0802878814/ref=sr_1_1?  

  6. https://bcp2019.anglicanchurch.net/index.php/downloads/  

  7. Isaiah By The Day https://smile.amazon.com/Isaiah-Daily-Readings-Alec-Motyer/dp/1845506545/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2Q14XFGFZENHH&keywords=isaiah+by+the+day&qid=1645456698&sprefix=isaiah+by+the+day%2Caps%2C151&sr=8-1  

  8. https://www.amazon.com/All-Saints-Reflections-Prophets-Witnesses/dp/0824516796/ref=asc_df_0824516796/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312519927002&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=11075865235834879410&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9018273&hvtargid=pla-568493811022&psc=1  

  9. https://www.lentmadness.org/about/  

  10. ACNA. The Book of Common Prayer. “Ash Wednesday” (2019)  

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