Lent Ideas: Things to Do During Lent

Lent is a period of 40 days before Easter whereby we examine ourselves in reflection to the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ for us. During Lent, we can:

  1. Forgive someone

Habouring resentment is hard. Psychological studies show that there are negative effects on our bodies if we are resentful or are angry at someone. Just as God has forgiven us of our sins which we have committed knowingly and unknowingly, ask God for His grace so that we can forgive those who have wronged us.

2. Thank a person

Are there people in your life whom you appreciate but you hardly tell them their presence in your life means a lot to you? Let us say something nice to our family and friends. Lent is a time to appreciate and thank someone. It also means appreciating the people in the society. We can do so by saying “thank you” to them or give them a smile, or even acknowledging their presence by having an eye contact with them. Their selfless contributions bring improvement to the society.   

3. Do an act of kindness

Lent is a wonderful time to do an act of kindness to others. Do you see someone a need? You can offer your help. In our day to day life, we can be caught up with our own needs. Let us look beyond ourselves and see how we can help those who are in need.

4. Exercise and take care of our bodies

In the midst of pandemic, it doesn’t take long for one to realise the importance of having a healthy body. If we have been neglecting our bodies due to work or bad eating habits, Lent is a time for us to give it the proper nutrition, adequate rest and some exercise.    

Lent is a season for us to draw closer to God. Through these acts of love and kindness, may we experience His love in our daily living.

Retreat came earlier this year…

My retreat came earlier this year than I had planned. I had planned one in August right around my birthday. The reason for this unplanned retreat: I was down with Covid.

I could not believe it when I was tested positive. I had all those symptoms: flu, chills, muscle ache, cough but the results from the antigen tests were negative. I was hopeful that I might just be having a common flu. I prayed hard that I would remain ‘negative’ for Covid tests.

How could I get Covid, right? I am relatively healthy: I take my supplements daily. I have always been super careful: double my masks, sanitize the cart at the supermarket before using, sanitize my hands every time I touched something (may be I was a little extreme) and once I return home, I immediate sanitise my handbag and my phone. How can someone so careful like me get Covid?

On the morning of Day 5 of my exposure to the virus, I did an antigen test upon waking up. It said, “positive”.

I stared at the result. I was shattered.

I was given a ‘Home Isolation Or Surveillance Order’ for one week.

Home Isolation. Away from people. I am used to being away from people for retreats but this time, while in home isolation, I was in isolation with angry thoughts, bitter thoughts, sad thoughts.

 On the first day, I spent much of my time being angry: I was angry at the person for giving the virus to me. My breaths were hot, like a fiery dragon’s. Nobody wants to be infected. Nobody in their right mind wants to pass the virus on to others, I understand. My friend is feeling guilty, I understand. But still, I was very angry. I have to announce to the church that I am a “Covid Positive”, a label I was trying to run away from ever since the start of Covid 2 years ago. And it has been miserable getting Covid. It was a terrible experience.    

On the second day, I spent most of my time sulking and getting angry at God. I complained to God. Why would You allow this happen? What about Sunday? Who would preach at the church on Sunday? What would the church leaders think of me? Would the people run away from me when I see them in church on Sunday?

On the third day, I re-watched some of my favourite movies and TV series (grateful for streaming services and good internet connection). I laughed and laughed at my favourite scenes. The movie therapy took away my sadness and anger for a while. I talked to some friends (via chat, I couldn’t talk due to the persistent sore throat and cough). One of them commented that I have “joined the Covid party” which I thought was hilarious.   

On the fourth day, I was ready for a therapy session with God. I stopped sulking and stopped throwing myself a pity party (but still angry at my friend!). Throughout these couples of days, family and friends remind me that God is with me. I may be angry and bitter but this does not change the fact that God loves me.

We are in the Season of Lent. Lent is to remember that Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days and night to prepare Himself for the public ministry. I would love to have been there to hear His intimate conversations with His Father in Heaven. In these 40 days, Jesus was tempted by the devil three times but every time He was tempted, He leaned on God’s Word and power and He was victorious over these temptations.

May be God wanted me to experience Him in a new way in this season of Lent. May be I should lean upon God and rest in Him, no matter what the circumstances I am in.   

Looking back at the past couple of days, I am so grateful for family and friends who sent me words of encouragement. They check in on me daily to make sure that I am physically (and emotionally) healthy. There are friends who send me groceries, lunch and dinner, snacks, coconut juice, and a slice of yummy cheesecake. I am never hungry. I spent a lot of time at the dining table enjoying these little surprises. There are friends who go to the pharmacies for me to get the needed medication. I am never in need. My needs have been supplied.  

When I count my blessings, I have less to grumble about. No more complaints. No more worries. No more asking God why. After all, this is what Lent is all about: focusing on the love and sacrifice of Jesus. Not on our current misery. For now, I will nurse myself to good health and to be strong for ministry again, emotionally, physically and spiritually.  

Suggestions from Pope Francis on Fasting for Lent:

Fast from hurting words and say kind words.

Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.

Fast from anger and be filled with patience.

Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.

Fast from worries and trust in God.

Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.

Fast from pressures and be prayerful.

Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy.

What to give up for Lent?

Lent a period of 40 days. It does not include Sunday. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday.

The forty days of Lent represents the 40 days and night Jesus spent in the wilderness. During these 40 days, the devil came to tempt Him but Jesus defeated these temptations. Jesus also spent time fasting and praying to prepare Himself for His ministry.

What was Jesus’ ministry? His ministry was to preach about the Kingdom of God. His teachings were on turning away from sins, or also known as repentance, and living our lives in faith and obedience to God.   

Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. Let us use this time to reflect on the love of Jesus Christ for us. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into this world for us. He suffered and died for us. He who was without sin carried all our sins upon Himself. He rose from the grave and ascended into Heaven. He is in Heaven now, preparing a place for us—those who believe in Him.  

If we have been struggling to read and study God’s Word, this is the time for us to do so. If we have been too busy to pray, the season of Lent is a good time for us to refocus on Him.   

Sometimes, when life gets too overwhelming , we can’t hear God talking to us. We may be carrying too many unnecessary baggage.   Now is the time to slow down our pace and receive healing from God. Now is the time to bask in God’s friendship and enjoy His love.

What to give up for Lent?

Unnecessary spending

We may not need a lot of the things which we had purchased. Now that we are in the pandemic, we may not shop as often as we like, but let us learn not to spend unnecessarily  and to find contentment in what I have. After all, godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6).

This can also be time where we look through at our possession and donate items we no longer need to people who really need them.


Let us be more intentional in focusing on God and reflecting on His love. Instead of watching TV or Netflix, we can use this time for meditation or read the Bible. This is also the time to minister to a friend who needs a listening ear, visit a friend, keep in touch with a friend, get to know someone or do something nice for someone.  

Junk food

I love junk food! I love bubble tea. I love ice cream. I love fried stuff. All these are yummy but they are not good for my body. This is the season that we give up on food that do not nourish us. After all, we need to take care of our health, which is one of the most precious gift from God.  

 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” Corinthians 6:19-20

Late nights

Lent is a time for us to rest in God and to find peace in Him. After all, God is in control of the universe, not us. Let us rest in Him.

What are you giving up for Lent? May you experience God afresh as you draw close to God. May His love and presence surround you and your family.

Day of Repentance

Today is Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent. Ash Wednesday reminds us of 2 things:

(1) our sinfulness before God

(2) our human mortality

In the beginning, God formed human beings out of the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7). After they had sinned against God, God gave  them their punishment and told them, “you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19 NRSV).

John the Baptist and Jesus Christ also preached the message, “Repent, and believe the Gospel” (Mark 1:15).

Let us intentionally spend time today to reflect on our lives—we are frail creatures. Let us be mindful that we are sinful creatures and confess our sins before the holy yet merciful God. May God teach us to number our days so that we will live wisely for God’s glory.  

The Type of Fasting God is Looking for

Bible text: Isaiah 58:6-12

February marks the beginning of the season of Lent. What is Lent? Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. Lent is a season of 40 days, not including Sundays. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter Sunday). Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word “lencten”, which means “lengthen” and it refers to the lengthening days of spring.

There are 40 days in Lent to represents the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness, in which Jesus was spending time in prayer in preparation for His ministry. It was when the devil tempted Him 3 times, and Jesus defeated him (Matthew 4:1-11).

Lent is a time of repentance and fasting. Fasting does not necessarily mean we abstain from food. It can be refraining from activities that distract us from spending time in prayers. Fasting helps us to draw closer to God by remembering that we do not live on bread or food alone but on God’s Word. Fasting helps us to attack the sin that is within us. What sins are you struggling with? Fasting helps us to lean upon God and with God’s help, break away from the sins that entangled us. Fasting gives us freedom from sins that grip us. 

The Israelites described in this passage were fasting. However, their fasting was not acceptable to God. One of the problems was that although they were fasting, they were using it as an opportunity to oppress the weaker people. The employer would use fasting as an excuse to avoid work for that period of time, and it meant that the workers would have no income during the fast. This provoked God’s anger.

The people were fasting, yes, but at the same time, they had their own selfish agendas behind it. From the outward appearance, it seemed they were fasting, but God saw their hearts, and their hearts were far from God.

What is the type of fast God is looking for?

What is the type of fasting which God is looking for?

It is mentioned in Isaiah 58: 6-12:

•          to loose the chains of injustice

•          to untie the cords of the yoke

•          to set the oppressed free and break every yoke

•          to share your food with the hungry

•          to provide the poor wanderer with shelter

•          to clothe the naked

•          and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood.

And then in verses 9-10:

•          if you do away with the yoke of oppression

•          stop the pointing of the finger

•          stop the malicious talk

•          spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry

•          satisfy the needs of the oppressed

In short, God wants to see these things in His children:

1.        Lift the Burdens of Others

•          to loose the chains of injustice

•          to untie the cords of the yoke

•          to set the oppressed free and break every yoke

•          To satisfy the needs of the oppressed

Words such as: “chains, cords of the yoke, oppressed…”. God wants us to help lift the burdens of others. Not to increase it.  

May we help those in need, and not to be bystanders to watch or to add to their hardship. 

2.        Share your food with the hungry

In school, we had to do Moral Education. We were given a picture and say what we should do in a scenario. In school, it is easy to say we should do this and that but now we are adults living in a real world. Sharing food with the hungry is not as straight forward as writing Moral essays in class. How can you share with food with the hungry? We are called to feed the hungry. What are some ways that we can feed the hungry? It may not need to be like a pot-bless or a party or something extravagant. It can be a small little act that we do. God will use your small acts of kindness to bless someone in need.  

3.        Provide the poor wanderer with shelter

God calls us to provide shelter to others. It can refer to being hospitable to others, especially the foreigners, the migrants in our land. How can we show hospitality to others?

4.        Provide clothing for the naked

This includes clothing others with dignity. Remember that we all came from the dust of the ground as God has made the first man out of the earth. Uphold each other with dignity.

The verse says, don’t point fingers at others. Be sympathetic.

5.        Respect others

In fasting, we are to respect others. And not to turn away from our own flesh and blood.

13 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. 3 Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (Hebrews 13:1-3, NIV)

Remember those who were in difficult circumstances as if we too are in it.

6.        Satisfied the needs of the oppressed

Help those who are oppressed. Be their friend.  Passionless giving or donation without much thoughts are not what God wanted.

If you do these things, then see how you will experience God’s mercy and grace:

-Your light will break forth like the dawn

You will enjoy the blessings of the Lord. People will know that you belong to God by the way you live.

-There will be strengthening in you  

-Your righteousness will go before you

-Glory of the Lord will be your rear guard

-The Lord will surround you

-The Lord will answer when you call

-The Lord will satisfy your needs

-The Lord will strengthen your frame

-You will be like a well-watered garden and like an ever-flowing spring

God blesses those who bless others. God will never short-change His children. When you give of yourselves to help others, God will satisfy you. You who feed others, God will feed you. You who clothed others in need, you will be clothed by God. You will not be in want but will be like a well-watered garden, a spring that will not run dry. God will strengthen you and bless you.

These are the blessings we will receive when we fast the right way to seek His face. We have to be very careful here. God is not a genie whose arms we can twist in order to get blessings. Every blessing we receive is grace from God, not that we have earn it with our own efforts or strength.

It is a right time to think about these questions:

Why am I doing what I am doing?

Why am I fasting?

Am I praying and fasting because I want to draw near to God? Or am I doing this with hidden motives or self-centred agenda?

Lent started with Ash Wednesday. The significance of Ash Wednesday is to remind us of our mortality. Let us be mindful that we are just a breath. The weak, the poor and the oppressed are not so different from us. They are also human like us. How would you live differently if you are mindful that our days are on earth are numbered? As Moses prayed, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. Let us be intentional to set aside time to seek God’s face. Let us think beyond ourselves and see how we can help others during the season of Lent. May we be refreshed by God as we help others.