More, Not Less: A Practice for Lent

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

One of my favorite gifts that I’ve ever been given and get to use each day is my Hosannah Revival five-year prayer journal. Every day I get to write a little prayer of what I’m thanking or asking God for, and what is so amazing is now that I’m in year two of my journal, I also get to look back and see how God has grown and changed me over the span of a year.

Looking back over the first few months of last year, I see so many entries that say something along the lines of “God, I want to love you, but my heart feels hard and apathetic. Please help me to love you.” I was coming off a long season of wrestling with God, and even though I felt I had landed in a better spot, my heart still felt so hard.

And then came Lent.

Now, you might not go to a church that practices Lent, but even if you don’t, it is a beautiful part of the Christian calendar that we as believers get to participate in. It’s a time for us to draw near to God, to fast and pray and wait with a sober understanding and joyous expectation for Easter, the time where God reconciled us to himself once and for all through Jesus’s death on the cross.

For a lot of my life, I tried to give up things for Lent that I thought would make me feel better. I’d give up social media, but still find myself not reaching for my Bible. I’d give up chocolate, saying that it was for Lent, but secretly hoping I’d curb my sweet tooth and “look better”. And something hit me last year where I realized that maybe I didn’t need less of something in my life. Maybe I needed more of God.

So I made the decision that every day on my drive to work, I’d listen to worship music. Whether it be some old school Sara Groves, the newest worship album from Maverick City, or Ellie Holcomb’s Sing albums (Sure, they’re “kids songs”, but how often have I cried as the truth of the lyrics pierces my heart? More times than I can count!), I made a commitment to carve out intentional time to worship and be with God, even while I was on the go.

And do you know what happened? My heart became soft. It was like something beautiful began to happen on those drives. I’d sing and cry and smile and connect with God, and what was originally a 40 day Lent practice became a regular part of my life. A year later, I’m still listening to worship music on my drive each day, not because I have to but because I want to.

So even though Lent has already started, any day is a good day to start focusing more on God. My challenge to you is this: Rather than just giving up something in this season, where can you make intentional space for more of God in your day? Here are a few simple suggestions to get you started:

  • Replace your regular podcast/radio music/listening habit on your drive to work or school with worship music.
  • Set a timer on your phone for a few days of the week and pray for a specific person (for example, right now, I pray for my friends’ new baby every Monday at 7:30 am).
  • Set aside 10 minutes in your day to walk around the block and pray. My counselor gave me the great suggestion once of setting a good middle point, praying and talking to God on the way there, and stilling your mind and heart to listen on the way back.
  • Choose a simple Bible reading plan on your favorite Bible reading app. They have all sorts of short studies that span a variety of topics. Read each day’s reading either right when you wake up or before you go to bed. Share what you’re learning with a friend.

No matter what you choose to do, making more space for God in your life will change you for the best. I’m praying that as you find what works for you, you’d feel the love and tenderness of God, and your heart would soften, too.

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