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How to Be Spiritually Intentional With Your Lenten Sacrifice

Her daughter wanted to give up meat for Lent, but was it a meaningful sacrifice?

Woman's praying hands during Lent; Getty Images
Credit: www.peopleimages.com

After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.—Matthew 4:2 (NIV)

Today I got a text from my daughter Charlotte. “Want to give up meat for Lent with me?”

Unsolicited conversations of a spiritual nature are so rare, so delightful, with either of my daughters. Answered prayer! I thought.

Immediately afterward, though, I began to doubt that her text had anything to do with God or the meaning of Lent. Although she’s thin and healthy and eats heartily, Charlotte loves weird fasts and diets. Just last month she and some friends had gone on a crazy two-day juice cleanse involving pricey liquids: a bitter green one, a fatty one made of cashews, and lemonade laced with cayenne and maple syrup. Was her desire to give up something up for Lent just such a game?

I prayed for the right response, some way to focus the conversation and the ensuing fast on spiritual matters without causing her to shut me down as preachy.

After praying, I was still unsure how to reply, so I consulted my colleague Jake, a Presbyterian minister’s son who, I often joke, is my own personal Holy Spirit. Though younger than I, Jake always offers helpful advice. “Ask her what she wants to put in its place,” he said.

I knew what he meant. I also knew what Charlotte’s answer would be: vegetables, tofu, nuts, pasta… Nevertheless, as typically happens when I consult Jake, I felt empowered.

“Okay,” I texted back. “That’s a meaningful sacrifice. Let’s also think of a way to be spiritually intentional about it.” I suggested possible strategies and then hit Send. I didn’t really expect a reply.

Imagine my delight when I got one: “Okay.” Not a full-out statement of commitment, but still.

Dear God, show me how to make You real to others, to help them know You.

Digging Deeper: Matthew 6:16–18

Excerpted from Walking in Grace.


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