As I was making the lists for observing Lent for myself, I wanted something that I could use to engage my small, special needs children in the Lenten season. So here is a list of 40 daily practices for Lent that were designed for my children. If they help you with yours, then that is awesome. Again, if you pick and choose between several lists or observe in a completely different way, do what makes the season meaningful for you and your family. These are little things that shouldn’t take too much time. And remember, be flexible. My children have special needs so if something doesn’t work out, don’t worry too much about it.
1. (Wednesday) Plant the seeds for the garden indoors in a Jiffy greenhouse or similar, seeing as it is still too cold to plant outside. Spend time explaining to the children how God created the seeds to work, try to inspire wonder in their minds.
2. (Thursday) Get the children to help cultivate the gardens, pulling the rest of the weeds and getting the gardens ready for planting. Explain how, after the seeds have germinated and sprouted, we are going to plant them in the gardens.
3. (Friday) Read the children a story about Easter.
4. (Saturday) Take the children for a walk outside to pick up trash and talk to them about taking care of the earth God gave us.
5. (Sunday) Teach the children some prayers, and encourage them to pray them. Things like “The Lord’s Prayer” for example.
6. (Monday) Pull up some worship music videos on YouTube and spend time singing and dancing in worship.
7. (Tuesday) Fill pots with dirt, letting the children get dirty and explaining that God made us out of the dirt.
8. (Wednesday) Begin reading Matthew 5. Read Matthew 5:1-12 today. This list will cover the entire Sermon on the Mount during Lent. Explain that God’s Kingdom is different to our culture and his ways are different than society.
9. (Thursday) Plant one of the seedlings, even if it is too cold still to plant them outside yet. Plant one in a pot for the children to be able to keep inside and observe.
10. (Friday) Make a very basic meal, such as beans and rice, or ramen noodles for dinner, and talk to the children about how other children in other places don’t get three meals a day, or don’t get to eat all the wonderful things that they do.
11. (Saturday) Continue with reading the Sermon on the Mount. Read Matthew 5: 13-21. Continue discussion about God’s Kingdom vs. the world.
12. (Sunday) Have prayer time with the children, encouraging them to pray their own prayers, as well as reciting some well-known prayers. Talk with them about how they can dialogue with God at any time.
13. (Monday) Do something creative with the children, letting them make a craft, draw a picture, write something, etc. Have them thank God for giving us ways to express ourselves and be creative.
14. (Tuesday) Continue with reading the Sermon on the Mount. Read Matthew 5:22-37. Continue discussion either where you left off last time or on specific things that come up in the reading of this section.
15. (Wednesday) Sit down and read a story that shows them something about God. Discuss the story.
16. (Thursday) Let the children spend extended time playing in water, talking about the cleansing power of water and also about how we are very blessed to have running water, and clean water, for drinking, and that other children don’t have that. Encourage them to spend some time thanking God for the gift of clean, running water.
17. (Friday) Continue with reading the Sermon on the Mount. Read Matthew 5:38-47. Discuss themes of justice and charity.
18. (Saturday) Encourage children to help with household tasks, doing more than they usually would. Use this time to talk to them about love and unity and cooperation and being part of a family and how we each do different things and all are important.
19. (Sunday) Have special prayer time with the children, continuing with the recited prayers as well as encouraging them to pray their own prayers. Have those old enough to do so write God a letter.
20. (Monday) Continue with reading the Sermon on the Mount. Read Matthew 6: 1-13. Discuss themes of forgiveness and for doing the right thing because it is right, not because people can see you.
21. (Tuesday) Spend some time tending to the new gardens and plants, extra time than your normally would on a day to day basis. Encourage the children to look closely at how much the plants have grown, tear out any weeds and use this to explain how weeds come up in our lives and we need to get rid of them.
22. (Wednesday) Get your children to write a note or draw a picture for someone that they love.
23. (Thursday) Give your children a treat, for no other reason other than that you love them. Especially if they have been less than good today. Explain to them how much you love them and then use it as a springboard to share with them how much God loves them.
24. (Friday) Continue with reading the Sermon on the Mount. Read Matthew 6:14-23. Discuss how hoarding things doesn’t benefit us in the long run, also explain about walking in light and being careful what you allow yourselves to engage in and look at.
25. (Saturday) Sit down and read a story that shows them something about God. Discuss the story.
26. (Sunday) Have special prayer time with the children, continuing with the recited prayers as well as encouraging them to pray their own prayers.
27. (Monday) Watch a movie with the children that has a good message and discuss.
28. (Tuesday) Continue with reading the Sermon on the Mount. Read Matthew 6:24-33 today. Discuss how God wants us to trust him with our lives.
29. (Wednesday) Get children who are old enough to talk about a time when someone hurt their feelings. Discuss how so often we ourselves offend other people and talk about how we should treat others.
30. (Thursday) Light a candle for just a few minutes, so the kids can see it. Talk to them about how fire keeps us warm and gives us light, but how it can also be dangerous because we can say mean things and gossip which can spread like wildfire and be very destructive.
31. (Friday) Continue with reading the Sermon on the Mount. Read Matthew 7: 1-6. Discuss how the way we judge others will come back to haunt us. For instance, if someone is having a rough day and we say they aren’t a nice person, that might not be true. Maybe they are just having a hard time. Also talk about how we want to be treated when we aren’t being nice.
32. (Saturday) Take the children to the park to run around in the fresh air. Discuss how God gave us fresh clean air to breathe, and how that is what gives us life. God breathed life into us after he created us specially.
33. (Sunday) Have special prayer time with the children, continuing with the recited prayers as well as encouraging them to pray their own prayers.
34. (Monday) Continue with reading the Sermon on the Mount. Read Matthew 7:7-14. Discuss how doing what everyone else is doing isn’t the best choice because following God is hard sometimes.
35. (Tuesday) Take pictures of all the children, telling them how beautiful they are and how glad you are that God made them.
36. (Wednesday) Read a Bible story about Easter to the children, spend time discussing it.
37. (Thursday) Continue with reading the Sermon on the Mount. Read Matthew 7:15-20 today. Discuss not only false prophets but for the kids use the time to discuss bad friends and how they can lead you astray.
38. (Friday) Spend time talking with the children about the death and resurrection of Jesus.
39. (Saturday) Continue with reading the Sermon on the Mount. This is the final reading. Read Matthew 7:21-28. Discuss the wisdom of following God and the foolishness of not doing so and the consequences.
40. (Sunday) Explain to the children about the resurrection, preferably before church. Also have special prayer time with the children, continuing with the recited prayers as well as encouraging them to pray their own prayers.
Earlier today I posted a list of daily practices for the first 20 days of Lent, this is the list for the final 20 days. Again, this list is for me but I hope that if you are looking for some meaningful practices, this list can help. Some of the things are repeated, and some are not.
Nadiz Bolz-Weber, pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints, posted a list of 40 ideas for Lent. While not all of these ideas would work for me in my current situation, I was very much inspired to write my own list. I have appreciated Nadia’s perspectives on life and Christianity and was looking for a great way to observe Lent that would be meaningful for me. So here is my list, and I challenge any who feel it would benefit them to create their own list, use this one, use a different list online, or combine ideas from other lists to find something workable for you that will be meaningful to your faith journey. This list is for the first 20 days of Lent and I will post another list for the second 20 days.
1. (Ash Wednesday) Participate in an Ash Wednesday service, even if the service is run differently than the kind of services you are used to. Observe 5 minutes of silence in a quiet place either in nature, or in front of your prayer altar.
2. (Thursday) Connect with earth – do yard work, prepare gardens for planting, walk in the grass barefoot, appreciating the feeling of earth beneath your feet.
3. (Friday) Go for a prayer walk.
4. (Saturday) Choose to see the sacred in the mundane.
5. (Sunday) Study the scriptures in the lectionary.
6. (Monday) Connect with air – walk outside and breath in the air, appreciating the life it gives us, meditate on how God create us out of the earth, breathed his very own breath into us to transform us into living souls. Thank God for life both physically and spiritually.
7. (Tuesday) Read/research/write about those who suffer inequalities due to social structures.
8. (Wednesday) Spend time meditating on the Kingdom of God using the sermon on the mount, skip dinner to spend more time on this.
9. (Thursday) Connect with fire – burn incense, light a candle, etc. Thank God for fire’s warmth, light, and passion. Reflect on how fire can be a wonderful thing but can also be a bad thing if used inappropriately because it burns. Meditate on the verses in James that talk about the tongue causing great fires.
10. (Friday) Create a playlist of worship songs and play them, not in the background, but as the foreground, engage with the songs and the words by singing, dancing, etc.
11. (Saturday) Read and pray Psalm 51, and then confess particular sins and faults.
12. (Sunday) Study the scriptures in the lectionary.
13. (Monday) Pray for your enemies, and those who have mistreated you whether they realize it or not.
14. (Tuesday) Spend time writing about God’s goodness in your life, particularly as it relates to the concept of all things working together for good to those who love God.
15. (Wednesday) Connect with water – spend an entire day drinking only water, thanking God for the easy access to water for the quenching of thirst and running water for cleanliness, take time to soak in the bath instead of taking a quick shower, add some herbs or essential oils if you wish. Thank God for the fact that he cleanses us and is the living water. Meditate on what it means for God to be the living water.
16. (Thursday) Research human trafficking in the USA (or your country), spend some time familiarizing yourself with this problem. Consider some of the things that people do to contribute to the problem that they might not realize, such as viewing pornography or watching certain sporting events, etc. Spend time thinking about what you personally can do about this problem.
17. (Friday) Make a list of 20 blessings that you usually overlook (example, Ann Voskamp’s 1,000 Gifts), and thank God for them.
18. (Saturday) Spend time in prayer, reciting prayers such as “The Lord’s Prayer”, and “The Serenity Prayer” aloud, taking the time to think about what you are praying and declaring.
19. (Sunday) Study the scriptures in the lectionary.
20. (Monday) Skip a meal and use the time to memorize a particular passage of Scripture.