Ideas for 40 Days of Fasting or Lent

Ideas for 40 Days of Fasting or Lent

Throughout biblical history we see 40 days of testing, waiting and drawing closer to God. Ash Wednesday and Lent typically mark a spiritual quest for Christians, though it’s often recognized as a Catholic tradition. It’s a time of prayer, service, sacrifice and self-examination.  Look beyond the face of religion and into the heart …and see if God is calling you for the next 40 days. Does He want your attention and your heart focused on Him?

Forty-day spiritual journeys are well known in the Bible.  In Genesis 7 Noah spent 40 days and nights on a boat while God destroyed everything he had created. In Exodus 34 Moses was on the mountain with God 40 days without eating bread or drinking water, while God wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments. In Exodus 16:35 the Israelites ate manna 40 days until they arrived in the promised land. They then suffered 40 years in the wilderness for disobeying God. In Deut 2:7  we’re reminded “The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything. ”

Jesus was called by God and immediately a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. Mark 1:11-13 NIV

Below are some ideas about spending 40 days with God.

Fasting 40 Days

Luxuries- One year during Lent, my husband and I decided to give up (fast from)  all luxury expenses. Since we use budgeting software, we were able to look at 12 months of luxury expenses (pizza, movies, coffee drinks, dining out, etc) and estimate the daily cost. We multiplied the cost by 40 days and then gave up these luxuries with a promise to God to give the money saved to charity. In the final two weeks my husband lost his job and we were tempted to keep the money. By faith, we donated the money and trusted God with our finances. By blessing others we were blessed by God. We learned how to live on less and continued to give up luxuries until he found new employment.  It was truly amazing!

Food- Another year, we practiced traditional fasting by giving up specific foods or eating at specific times of the day. You can learn more about this in the popular book Fasting (Book with DVD): Opening the door to a deeper, more intimate, more powerful relationship with God by Jentezen Franklin. The concept is refraining from food for a spiritual purpose. One word of caution when fasting: watch your blood sugar! I ended up hospitalized after 40 days of liquids until 5pm and light meals in the evening. Know your threshold and guard your health.

Events- My children are making decisions about their own level of participation. They might fast from television, texting, Facebook or specific foods such as sweets, pizza or fast food.

40 Days of Prayer

Devotionals- Now is a good time to start reading a devotional and praying each day. One of the popular devotionals is Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young, where each day you read a sample of what Jesus might write to you.  The Life Application Study Bible Devotional: Daily Wisdom from the Life of Jesus (Bible NLT) is more scripture based and focuses on Jesus’ life as seen through scripture.

Psalms- Pick up your bible and pray through the Psalms each day or read the book Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness by Nan C Merrill. As you read the verses, focus your mind on how you can apply the verses to your life today. Select a few favorites and memorize them.

Prayer Walk- Each day when you exercise (or just driving the car to work and carpool) go on a “prayer walk.” Notice your surroundings and pray for those people around you. Pray for your neighbors as you walk past their homes, pray for the person parked at the stoplight beside you, pray for those people in your path. Read the book PrayerWalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength, and Discipline by Janet Holm McHenry.

Body Prayer- During the next 40 days, pray through your body. Start at your feet and toes and pray something similar to this “Lord, examine my toes and feet. Search for anything that is not pleasing to you, find anything that is toxic and does not honor you. Wash over my feet and toes with the blood of Jesus and allow my feet and toes to honor Him.” Repeat for each body part, from toes to head as you lie in bed and prepare to fall asleep.

Read-The Purpose Driven Life (QR Code Enhanced Edition): What on Earth Am I Here For? by Rick Warren. The book has 40 chapters and is designed to be read one chapter, one day at a time for 40 days.

Memorize Scripture- Get some index cards and write out scripture verses to memorize.

Pray For a Child- If you are a parent or grandparent, pray for your children each day for the next 40 days. Pray for your nieces and nephews. If you sponsor a child through Compassion International, Gospel of Asia or World Vision then spend the next 40 days praying for your child. Pray for children who are waiting to be adopted. For the next 40 days, find children you can pray for.

Pray For a Relationship- Pray for your spouse, friend, boyfriend or a relationship. Focus each day on the same person and spend 40 days covering this person with your prayers.

Pray for Your Coworkers- Print a copy of the company directory or write a few names down on paper and pray for these people during the next 40 days. Pray for them to know Jesus, for peace and hope  in their lives and for God to reveal Himself to them. Pray with expectation for goodness, peace, joy and hope in their lives.

40 Days of Praise

Worship Music  Change the radio station in your car or on your computer to Christian music and listen exclusively for the next 40 days.  Scan YouTube for Christian songs and save your favorites in your profile. Richard of www.Tworship.com writes “Praise and worship are contrasted with attachments to or pursuits of things honored by the world. Jesus rebuked Satan’s offer for power and beauty (Luke 4:5) by quoting Deuteronomy 6:13:“It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

Journal- Get a fresh notebook and journal your gratitude to God. Read the popular book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp and make a decision to start noticing the gifts God has bestowed upon you. This is especially wise if you are under a cloud of unemployment, financial worries, health problems or relationship troubles. Count your blessings for the next 40 days. One of my favorite journals is The Footprints Journal, Premiere Collectionwith beautiful quotes and pages to reflect upon.

Listening – Life Coach Bridget Haymond says “When I think of sacrificing 40 days, I think about dedicated time spent in prayer and reading my Bible.  With so many things vying for your attention, time spent focusing your mind and silencing your racing thoughts is a discipline and a sacrifice.  It’s truly an exercise in self-control to put aside your own opinions, ideas, agendas and to-do lists in order to truly focus on listening to what God wants to speak to your heart about.  The modern day routine rarely values the discipline of a contemplative lifestyle.  However, clearing your mind and waiting patiently for insight, direction and fellowship with the Heavenly Father is equivalent to what Jesus did regularly.  What you choose to give up in order to spend focused time listening is up to you.  It could be the time you normally spend reading a magazine, watching television or going on your favorite social media site, but whatever you exchange for time spent listening will be well worth it.  I have always come away refreshed, encouraged and blessed by my times of waiting and listening.”

Beauty Treatments- When is the last time you used your body as praise to God? Created in His image…when you look in the mirror do you see the child He loves or something less beautiful in your own eyes? Explore opportunities to honor your body and treat yourself as a son or daughter of the King. What would you eat as His child? How would you dress? What would you do to maintain the body He created for you? Put this thought into your heart, pray over it and see if you need “40 days of beauty treatments” in the name of the Lord. Get a copy of the book His Princess: Love Letters from Your King by Sheri Rose Shepherd and remind yourself daily that you are His.

40 Days of Giving

Giving Your Gifts- Marie at Spreading Joy is an expert at giving and says this: “Knowing each gift given, regardless of size, has a limitless effect on the recipient, we choose to simply give.  We are tempted to compare our gifts to what others are doing, where they are making their gifts to and the size of them, but when you step back and look at what Jesus did, you’ll realize that is where the comparison needs to be made.  Jesus simply gave what He had.  He saw the need and stepped in to meet it. We see needs we can meet often, but because we can’t meet them all, sometimes we’ll choose not to do anything.  Give what you can – where you can, as making a difference for just one person is exactly Jesus did.  Give without comparison and give in love. ”

Cooking- If you are making a family meal, double the batch of spaghetti, soup, stew or lasagna. Package this with a loaf of bread and deliver it to your neighbors, family member or a coworker. Use the element of surprise and make their day special when you bring an unexpected meal. Make a batch of cookies, brownies or cupcakes and each day during the week find someone you can share them with.

Giving Your Time- Spend 40 days giving your time and attention to your friend, spouse, children or family members. Pull yourself away from Facebook and social media, from the distractions of the television or internet…and center your time on someone else. Make a list with the number 1-40 and each day write a name of someone you are going to give time to. You can make a phone call, send an email, mail a card, or visit in person. Take the focus off yourself and your needs and give time to someone else.

These are just a few ideas to start you thinking about your own 40-day spiritual journey. Pastor Mike at A Heart For God says “Lent is the season (between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday) where Catholics prepare for Easter. Many do it by giving up things. As a former Catholic who holds dear his Catholic heritage (after all, I gave my heart and life to Jesus as a Catholic), I’ve wondered about the practice of “Lent” in this way. If we would surrender certain things during the season prior to Easter, why not surrender them entirely the whole year through?”

The decision to spend 40 days focused on God is yours alone. Pray over this and see if you are led to do something or possibly wait for another time. Know that during your 40 days with God you will attract the attention of the enemy and he will throw flaming arrows your way. Stand firm with the shield of faith and keep your eyes and heart on God.

Related Articles on Fasting and Lent

Christians Tailor Lent Outside Catholic Traditions -Christian Post

We’d like to hear your ideas. Post a comment below and share your ideas for a 40 day journey.


Priceless Gifts

Priceless Gifts

We all love giving and making a difference.  Spreading Joy is what I love to call it.  The problem is that many of us look at our giving in the wrong fashion.  We look at what we can’t do, don’t have or dwell on the huge things that we may never be able to do.

The Bible is filled with example after example of the Lord giving to us and doing so unapologetically.  Our desires to give big and have a huge impact often cloud our hearts of the impact we are making.  It blinds us to the reality that we can make a difference with little to no resources. We all can give the gifts to others that the Lord so graciously gives to us.

Let’s look at some examples together:

The Gift of Strength – Women are strong. We’ll step in between danger and our children in an instant and think nothing of it. We’ll face monsters that lurk in the dark, giants that terrorize our kids and a million other things that make our children and families feel weak and defeated.  When you strengthen another by lending a hand, agreeing in prayer or simply being their rock in times of deep sorrow and pain, you are giving those people the gift of Psalm 46. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” This Psalm goes on to describe the mountains crumbling into the sea and how we can count on the Lord to strengthen us.  You know what it feels like when your world has been shaken to the core and then how wonderful it is when God steps in. During those times when your world is falling apart, a true friend to strengthen you is priceless.

The Gift of Time – God desires to dwell with us, just as he desires us to dwell with him. In this hurry up society where the elderly are pushed aside, kids are sat in front of the TV and there is never enough time for anything anymore, this gift is more valuable than we seem to realize.  I love family gatherings, I love girls’ night out and I love one on one time with my kids.  Give the gift of time, knowing that this gift will always be treasured.

The Gift of Love – Unconditional love is simply amazing. Being loved just for you is a priceless gift that God gives us. Psalm 139 tells us that the Lord knows every single thing about us and yet He chooses to love us anyway. He loves us when we are whiny, bratty, disobedient, fearful, doubtful and even when we run from Him. We KNOW this love from Him and are so grateful for it. Why, then, do we not value it more when we give this gift away? You don’t just love your friends that live in the fanciest of homes, drive the best cars and provide the best dinner parties.  You don’t just love those family members that never cause you grief or always are helpful. You love your family and friends unconditionally and in doing so; you make a huge impact on each of those hearts.

The Gift of Peace – When the tears are flowing, uncertainty and anxiety are bursting from your heart, Jesus steps up and whispers “Peace, be still” and because HE is the Master of the wind, the raging storm must quiet. The peace we have that passes all understanding is because we know that with each trial, God is there with us.  We don’t have to go through things alone.  When we have a friend that will hold our hand as well as touch our heart with kindness as we are going through the valley brings us amazing peace because we are not alone. This gift allows us to take one more step, knowing that it’s truly going to be ok. I pray you use this gift often as you wrap your arms around someone hurting and assure them that “it” will be ok.

The Gift of Prayer – When we pray for others, we are sometimes guilty of thinking “I wish I could do more.” Well, I do that occasionally.  Praying for someone is absolutely the greatest gift ever! I’m boldly going before the throne of grace on their behalf and asking God the Father to find favor with them. I’m going before the One that knows their pain, feels their grief and is right in the midst of their trials.  I’m seeking help from the One that can help when no other can. The gift of prayer is perfect as one size fits all and anyone can do it!  I don’t know about you, but when I wake up to an email or message that says “I’m praying for you” my heart immediately smiles because I was being wrapped in prayer while I slept.  I have a policy that I never break.  My mind is usually running everywhere, so when someone pops into my mind and on my heart, I’ll say a prayer for them.  Knowing that God placed them there for a reason since it was out of the blue.  I do try and contact them to let them know, but sometimes that just doesn’t work out.  Give the gift of prayer, without feeling like you should do more.

The Gift of Forgiveness – Pain is pain, regardless of who caused it, where it comes from and how deep it cuts to our core, it hurts! There are some that choose to hold a grudge and will simply not let go and they refuse to give the gift of forgiveness.  As long as we are in this earthly body, WE will hurt others.  We will disappoint, discourage and cause pain and have to ask forgiveness of those we cause this hurt to.  Remember that when someone has to ask you to forgive them.  Give this gift freely, without the give and take of reminding and remembering the pain.

The Gift of Courage – Just as Abraham “went” without even knowing where he was going, God supplies us with the courage we need to serve Him.  The Bible is filled with time after time when men faced the unknown, like Abraham or giants, like David.  Knowing what God wants you to do is one thing, but having the courage to step out and DO it that is another thing entirely. When you step up, stand up and lead the way, you may never realize it but you are giving someone else courage to do the same.  Many do not want to stand alone and are fearful so your simple act of leading the way empowers others with the confidence to do the same. Go…boldly so!

The Gift of Compassion – Isaiah 30:18 talks about how the Lord longs to be gracious to us and He will show us compassion! We treasure that with the Lord! Jude says and some having compassion, making a difference.  When you give the gift of compassion you instantly make a difference. Be compassionate, even if you don’t understand what is going on or how someone could have gotten into “that” situation.  Be compassionate with your Pastor, teacher and the other leaders in your church as they have a huge responsibility of making sure that the flock is taken care of.  Be compassionate…period.  Many people are hostel and indifferent to those who are facing hard times. Your gift is received with a grateful heart and will be passed on. Someone will remember this gift and pass it to another that is facing difficulty.

The Gift of Hope – All the resources are gone…. there seems to be no job, no money, no family members that will come to the rescue…no hope.  You see the need, you do what you can to help as well as do what you can to show them other resources and avenues that can be taken.  You give hope that tomorrow will be better, you inspire them to keep going, keep looking and remind them that someone cares. There’s nothing like the gift of hope. Philippians 4:19 BUT my God shall supply all your need according to HIS riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

The Gift of JOY – Joy is contagious! Don’t you just love being around people that are happy, joyful and that just seem to enjoy each moment of life? I love watching people like this! The Bible says that the joy of the Lord is our strength. Have you considered what brings God joy? We bring Him joy just by being ourselves. He loves us, adores us and has chosen us. Our praise, prayers and service to HIM brings him joy. Our act of praise and thanksgiving not only help lift our spirits, heal our hearts and bring us closer to the Lord, but it also brings the Lord joy. Our repentance and willingness to be the light he has called us to be brings Him joy.  Our willingness to serve and our complete submission to His will brings Him great joy.  Our faithfulness and faith IN Him brings him joy.  Faith, even when we can’t see the path, even when we are afraid and even when we wonder why would he even choose to use us in the first place….brings him great joy.  Yes, the Joy of the Lord is a priceless gift to give others. Let them see His love, peace, mercy and grace flowing through you.

These are priceless gifts that God gives to us!  Why do we not see the value in them as we give them away to others?

I hope this encourages you to re-think your gift giving, refocus your values on these kinds of gifts and that it reminds you that you are awesome at spreading joy! I hope you’ll remember these gifts as you thinking about giving to others.

One of my goals is to make sure that I’m spreading joy daily and I hope that you’ll make that as your goal as well!

 

Related Articles

50 Ways of Making a Difference without Spending a Penny

Another 50 Ways of Making a Difference

Making a Difference is as Easy as ABC

 

About the Author

Marie Wikle, Spreading Joy Corporation Spreading Joy uses financial gifts to allow people from all walks of life to have some joy come their way.  Marie creates a chain reaction of joy spreading from person to person  as donations of products and/or services positively affect the recipient.  As these gifts are distributed to brighten someone’s day it  motivates them to look for ways to start spreading joy and possibly help them to rise above their circumstances. She is the co-creator of Twitter Nightly Worship, or Tworship, which draws between 100-300 worshipful spirits from social media.

 

Every Life Matters

Image from charitywater.org

Every life matters, and 9 year Rachel Beckwith knew this in her heart. So for her 9th birthday her only wish was for people to donate to Charity Water. Rachel’s goal was to collect $300 in donations for Charity Water. Rachel posted this on her Charity Water donation page:

“On June 12th 2011, I’m turning 9. I found out that millions of people don’t live to see their 5th birthday. And why? Because they didn’t have access to clean, safe water so I’m celebrating my birthday like never before. I’m asking from everyone I know to donate to my campaign instead of gifts for my birthday. Every penny of the money raised will go directly to fund freshwater projects in developing nations. Even better, every dollar is “proved” when the projects are complete, and photos and GPS coordinates are posted using Google Earth. My goal is to raise $300 by my birthday, June 12, 2011. Please consider helping me. Thank you so much!!!”

After a fatal car accident, people around the world have been donating to Charity Water in Rachel’s name. Before her death she was just shy of her $300 goal to help others. After her death, she has raised more than $750,000+ to date. Read the full story here:

Christian Post

Huffington Post

Charity Water Blog Update

CNN Article

Please pray for Rachel’s legacy of caring for others to live on. My prayer is that Rachel’s legacy brings in a million dollars for the children she cared about. Pray also for Rachel’s grieving family and for God’s remarkable presence in their lives.

Rachel’s Charity Water Donations

 

Update August 15, 2011: Rachel has now raised more than one million dollars for Charity Water.

A Child’s View of Satan

I posted this on my personal blog in 2009 and thought I’d share it here with the Womens Bible Cafe. This was my daughter’s view of Satan:

Last night as we snuggled in bed, my seven-year-old daughter apologized for her bad behavior during the day. Earlier in the day she was disciplined for a lengthy temper tantrum when I told her that an online game was putting a virus on my computer and I asked her to stop playing it. She earned herself five minutes of time out for her backtalk, until she discovered she had accumulated a 35 minute time out in her room. Angry, she kicked and pounded on the heavy mirrored doors of her bedroom closet, earning more time for her anger management.

In the evening, she wanted to apologize for saying “I wish you were dead. I wish God never made you. I wish you were not born.” I accepted her apology and explained that in anger we say hurtful things that we don’t really mean. I showed my forgiveness and reminded her that I love her now and forever. I apologized for my own behavior when I became angry with her.

Continuing the conversation, my daughter then elaborated on the source of her anger. She is just 7 years old and often speaks like Abigail from the Bible.

Mom, Satan grabbed hold of my feet. He walks with me all day long, holding my feet, waiting. Then he started going up my body to my stomach, past my heart and right to my mind when I was really angry. He knew I could not keep him away from my mind once I was angry. Inside my mind, Satan twisted my words and would not let me focus on God. He went back into my mouth and made me say things that I knew would hurt you. I’m sorry Mom, I know that it was wrong to let Satan past my feet. Sometimes God allows him to do that so God can show me how much I need him.

Seriously, this is what she said!

Blessings,

Putting Up Jesus

In about fourteen days, after Thanksgiving, we usually put up our Christmas Tree. A few weeks ago, my daughter started asking to put up the Christmas Tree, she wanted to feel the presence of Jesus in our home. We declined and offered the normal excuses:

  • It’s too early
  • Everyone waits until after Thanksgiving
  • It will be up too long
  • The neighbors will make fun of us

My husband and I had a delightful conversation inspired by her request. My husband gave in to her shiny blonde hair and big blue eyes (I warned him about this) and said “We’ll put up the tree but not the outside lights.” I argued back that the weather is sunny and beautiful and putting up the lights now makes good sense. He replied “but then people will see me putting up the lights and make fun of me for being the first to do so!” I fought back “what you are saying is that it’s okay to put up the inside decorations, and when people mock us, you can blame it on me.” We continued the debate as I encouraged him to put out the lights “you don’t have to turn them on until after Thanksgiving.” Suddenly I realize that my husband (not me?) had too much pride. His pride (not mine?) was keeping him from putting up the Christmas lights before it was socially acceptable.

Looking inward, I realize that I too was soaking in pride. Why not put up the Christmas Tree and celebrate the birth of Jesus! I am a Christ-follower and love the Lord, so why not put up the symbols of His birth celebration! As a society, we ridicule department stores and retail mall stores for putting out their Christmas (excuse me, “Holiday”) decorations before Thanksgiving. We see this as a lure by retailers to push us into spending our money on their Christian (oops, “Season”) gifts. We complain about the Christmas Trees and we stand our ground that we’d never put up a tree before Thanksgiving. How embarrassing!

In my morning bible study I was reading about Paul’s conversion and the persecution he endured because he loved Jesus so much. My Christmas Tree story is beginning to reflect a lack of submission and humility for the sake of the Lord. My eyes were blinded by what is socially correct, compared to what honors my Savior. I was seeing my Christian holiday through the eyes of social politeness- and I did not like what I saw. Pride was keeping me from putting up the Christmas Tree! I feel into the trap of giving the Thanksgiving holiday higher value than my own Christian holiday. I was lured into the “one-holiday-at-a-time” rules of society passed on from one generation to the next. I’ve stepped out of my little box and today is the day we are putting up the Christmas Tree. Humble me Lord.