Do you or your family practice any spiritual disciplines during Lent? Disciplines are anything from attending extra worship services to fasting from certain kinds of food to making extra time to devote to prayer. They’re a powerful way to deepen and enrich our faith life and, as one friend of mine puts it, help us to “stretch our spiritual wings and grow closer to God.” Which is why I want to suggest several spiritual disciplines for you to try with your preschooler during Lent this year.
But first, a word about Lent. Lent is a special time or season in the church year that begins on Ash Wednesday (March 1, this year) and concludes at sundown on the night before Easter. It’s a time of repentance—recognizing our sin and making changes in our life that help us draw closer to God. This repentance is undertaken in preparation for Easter and lasts for forty days (all the days, except Sundays, between Ash Wednesday and Easter).
And this brings us to Lenten disciplines, which help us in the task of repentance. They remind us of the things God values and help us to become more like the people God created us to be. Here are three, prayer-related disciplines. My encouragement is to try one new one with your family this year.
- If your family does not pray before meals, commit to praying before one meal every day during Lent. Pray either before or after the meal and pick a prayer that you can say together. A great resource is Thank You for This Food: Action Prayers, Blessings and Songs for Mealtime by Debbie O’Neal.
- If your family does not say prayers before bed, commit to praying before bed during Lent. A simple way to do this is to think back over the day and talk to God about it. With preschoolers, talk together about the things that were “glad” or “sad” during the day. After the conversation, offer these things up to God as a prayer. Close by saying “Amen.”
- Help your preschooler begin to learn the Lord’s Prayer. This can be done in several ways: Pray it together each day. Or go back and forth with each person saying the next phrase to practice.
These are just a few ideas. I’m sure that you’ll come up with even more. And whether Lenten disciplines are something that you’ve done all your life or they’re something brand new, they’re a powerful way to grow closer to God. I’m sure that you’ll do great, and if you ever have any questions or disciplines you’d like to share, I’m always here for you and would love to hear about them.