So . . . what’s everyone giving up for Lent this year*****?
Just kidding. I don’t really want to know.
I mean, I do. (I’m nosy like that.) But, you know, Matthew 6:16-18 and whatnot.
As for me, I’m doing one or two different things to commemorate Lent this year. For the most part, these will remain between me and God and Ken*. Rest assured, though: none of them, thank the Lord, is anything like my Lenten fast last year.
(Never again. Never ever ever ever ever. No. Just no. Never. Ever. Please. Thank you.)
There is one Lenten “thing” that I do want to share with you, though, because it involves a book — a book I’m reading (and appreciating — a lot) this Fastenzeit.
This year in Lent, I’m trying to be extra faithful about reading from the Treasury of Daily Prayer every night before bed.
Treasury of Daily Prayer? you might ask. What on earth is that? And why don’t you just read straight from the Bible?
Good questions, folks.
To answer the last one first: I have a couple of minor challenges to overcome when I just read straight from the Bible (though I really love to do that, too). For one, I’m never quite sure where to start, and I’m never quite sure when to stop. For another, I tend to find myself reading the same favorite books over and over again (John, Hebrews, Zechariah — seriously, I love that book) to the unfortunate exclusion of others (Acts, Hosea, Job**).
The Treasury of Daily Prayer helps me with all of this***. For every day in the year, it gives me . . .
- a Psalm (or a substantial portion thereof)
- a (rather longish) passage from the Old Testament
- a (rather longish) passage from the New Testament
- a bit of good spiritual writing from somebody significant during the church’s last two millennia
- a hymn verse****
- a prayer
For me, it’s a kind of one-stop shop for devotional reading — if I can remember to crack it open.
This Lent, I’m trying extra hard to remember.
* I know you’re supposed to keep fasting mostly to yourself, but in my opinion, if you’re going to fast, it’s kind of important to let others in your immediate household know something of what you’re doing. That way, they don’t get hurty feelings when they cook you a big, delicious steak dinner with all the trimmings and you respond with, “Oh, that’s so sweet, but, um, I’m just not that hungry tonight [wink wink nudge nudge say n’more].”
**To be honest, I’m not sure I’ve ever read the book of Job in its entirety. I usually start at the beginning, get to the part where Job’s sitting in ashes covered with boils, and then skip ahead to the awesome bit at the end where God speaks to Job out of the whirlwind.
*** I still haven’t read far enough in it to know whether or not the Treasury of Daily Prayer includes the entire book of Job.
**** I usually read these quietly to myself, because singing in bed is just a little weird.
***** Though I don’t really feel a need to ask what you’re all giving up — or not giving up — for Lent, I am curious about this: if you happen to be fasting or engaging in some other form of spiritual discipline right now, what is your motivation? And what is it that you hope to gain from the experience?