40 Days to a New Life: Week 2

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Lenten Prayer Space

Check out these Lenten activities and resources for Lent week 2! Remember you can do as many or as few as you like, and can always go back and do activities from previous weeks. The point is not to get as many done as possible, but to find something that fits you and your family and use it (or your own ideas) to make this a season that builds your faith and your family!

Monday: Have a Creative Lent

  1. Reflect on and chat about what you did last week for Lent. Are there any practices you and your family want to keep doing or drop? Which ones brought energy and engagement with one another and God? What did you get out of them? What are you hoping for for this week? Do you or your kids have any ideas for what you’d like to try this week?
  2. Find a creative way to engage Lent this week. Check out Busted Halo for a Lent Photo Challenge, “microchallenges” to increase your kindness, suggestions for Lenten activities, and a Lenten calendar (think Advent calendar, but with daily readings, prayers, and actions for Lent) from 2015 (so you’ll have to adjust the dates for yourself). Choose any that fit for your family.

Tuesday: Have a Prayerful Lent

Lent is a great time to start a new habit as a family. Simple prayers kids can count on at the same time every day can give them a sense of constancy and comfort, connection to you as their loving caregiver, and to God as a reliable source of love, encouragement, and protection. Check out the resources below for some ideas about learning to pray together.

  1. Start a bedtime prayer routine if you don’t have one already. Here are some suggestions from Vibrant Faith @ Home.
  2. For young kids try out The Hand Prayer
  3. Make prayer beads together. Here’s a simple YouTube tutorial. You can choose different categories for each of the “weeks”: prayers for people we love, prayers for those in trouble or need (this could be people, endangered species, the earth, countries at war or in famine, a sick friend, even a pet! Be creative and encourage your kids’ creativity), thanksgivings, saying sorry for things we did wrong or asking help to change bad habits, etc. Each of the cruciform beads can be a simple prayer that you say each time (The Lord’s Prayer, a simple, “thank you for loving us, God,” or whatever you’d like). Consider using the prayer beads at bedtime.

Wednesday: Have a Generous Lent

Traditionally “alms giving” is a part of Lenten devotionals–giving to the poor and those in need. Think about how your family could intentionally give to those who are hurting, poor, or otherwise in need this week. Some suggestions are below:

  1. Ask your kids who they’d most want to help if they could. Work as a family to come up with a plan to help. Remember to make prayer a part of your plan! One example: my daughter is a huge animal lover and came up with the idea to have a garage sale and donate all the money to a local animal shelter. Her best friends will help out and bring baked goods for a bake sale too. Our “Lent box” (see activity 1 for Ash Wednesday) is being filled with things we will sell at the garage sale.
  2. Begin to organize a “toy swap” and donate the toys to a local charity such as a family homeless shelter. Come up with a date and start to contact family and friends who might be interested.

Thursday: Have a Quiet, Mindful Lent

Lent is a time for reflection and prayer. It is harder and harder in our culture to find the time and space to quiet our hearts, listen to God, and share our hearts with God and one another. And over-stimulation is also one of the reasons for the epidemic of stress and anxiety affecting our kids. So take some time today as a family to be quiet together.  Try one of these ideas:

  1. Turn off the screens, read a favorite Bible passage or story and then spend a few minutes in silence. Spend the time drawing, coloring writing in a journal, mediating, or praying. Finish the silence with a quick prayer. You might print up Labyrinths  to color or use as “finger labyrinths” as a way to help your kids still their minds. Think about if there’s a way to bring some silence into your family life more regularly.
  2. Teach yourself and your kids to meditate. Here is a great resource for kids of all ages: https://app.omgmeditate.com/#/kids-meditations (all but the meditations for families are free). And here is a beautiful faith-based bedtime meditation you can do with your young kids. These meditations all take just a few minutes!
  3. Really challenge yourself and spend a whole day without screens, radio, TV, or any unnatural noise. Talk at dinner or bedtime about what the experience was like and if there were any positive things you noticed like being more relaxed, talking to one another more, or spending more quality time face to face with people. Talk also about the negatives. What might it mean if you felt anxious or bored or lonely? Might those indicate too much dependence on screens? Are there any healthier habits you want to establish as a family?

Friday: Have a Homey Lent

Kids actually pick up more about faith and God at home than they do at church partly because of the very few hours they spend in Sunday School every month vs. at home. Studies show that families who use church-only as a way to pass on faith to their kids end up with kids who stop going to church and don’t relate to Christianity as adults. But those who make faith and faith rituals a part of their home lives raise kids who internalize and value a relationship with a loving God. So this Lent make your home literally into a space for prayer.

Try out these suggestions from BuildFaith: Create a Lenten Prayer Space

Saturday: Have a Family-Friendly Lent

Families have less and less time for play and unstructured time together, so pick a favorite activity you haven’t done for a long time and do it together as a family. Instead of “giving up” something for Lent, add family time back in and think about what you might do throughout the whole season (and beyond) to enjoy time together more often.

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