Disclosure: This post about how to keep the spirit of Lent alive after Easter contains affiliate links to products that I truly love and recommend.
We’re 5 days past Easter and I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a bit adrift spiritually. It happens to me just after Christmas as well, but the post-Easter period is always the worst. I think it’s because Lent and Easter are just so intense for me.
I spend more time in prayer, in Bible study, and even in worship than usual so when Easter is over, there’s a bit of – dare I call it – emptiness? This year though, I’ve been determined not to let that feeling take hold. Instead, I’m actively working to keep the spirit of Lent alive after Easter.
Let’s start by recognizing something really important. a) Easter isn’t actually over. According to the church calendar, Easter continues right up until Pentecost. It’s only Easter Sunday that is over. b) In some ways, Easter is never over. Jesus IS with us. He is alive and present in our lives every day.
Here’s what I’m doing to keep the spirit of Lent alive:
First, let me just give you a helpful mantra or two to keep in mind as you read through this. Some is better than nothing. It’s not practical to try to cram too much into an already stuffed schedule. So, 10 minutes is better than 0 minutes. Here’s another helpful mantra. God is a priority not an extra. You have to be committed to devoting time to your spiritual growth. It really doesn’t work to just try to squeeze it in “when you have spare time”.
1. Daily meditation.
Traditional meditation is not easy for me. With my chronic pain, quieting my body and mind in that way simply means that I’m then going to lie there and focus on how much pain my body is in. I’ve found what works better for me is to get outside. Sitting out on my back porch, just watching the birds and other wildlife back there allows me to get out of my head without then becoming hyper-focused on my physical pain.
I find that as I just sit there and watch what’s happening in the backyard, my mind begins to wander. It feels like it opens up and I’m in a better place to work through and let go of any problems. I’m also in a better place to receive anything God wants me to hear. If the weather is bad, sometimes just sitting with some instrumental music playing, listening to an inspirational podcast, or reading a few Bible passages gives my brain the focus it needs to go in the right direction.
2. Daily prayer.
I have quite a few friends who are going through a LOT right now. I want to be sure to pray for them and their needs as well as for my family every day. But it can be really easy to say, I’ll pray for you and then not really follow through. I do firmly believe that just the act of saying “I’ll pray for you” is a prayer in itself but I also like to devote more time to specific needs.
I always start with what I refer to as the “stop, drop, and roll” method of praying. The moment that I am made aware of a prayer need/request, I stop what I’m doing, even just for 30 seconds, and I say a quick prayer asking God to hold that person close. I also jot down their name, perhaps with a little note beside it about the prayer need, in a designated notebook.
That way, if and when I have more time, I can go back to pray in more depth. I keep a list of people whom I pray for every single day in my prayer journal, along with some “generic” prayers for them. For example, Walter – pray that he grows up healthy and strong. That helps eliminate me sitting down to pray and having my mind suddenly go blank.
15 Minutes Alone with GodFive Minutes in the Bible for Women15 Minutes with God for GrandmaThe Power of a Praying® Grandparent Book of PrayersThe Power of Praying® for Your Adult Children Book of PrayersThe Power of a Praying® WifeBusy Mom’s Guide to Prayer: A Guided Prayer Journal (Motherhood Club)The Busy Grandma’s Guide to Prayer: A Guided JournalThe Busy Mom’s Guide to Bible Study
3. Practice mindfulness.
Okay, I’m going to be honest here. I’m not fond of the term “mindfulness”. It seems to have become one of those trendy things that gets thrown around all the time. So, let me define what I mean by it. To me, mindfulness is putting aside multi-tasking in favour of fully engaging in one task at a time. Don’t get me wrong. I think there’s a time for multi-tasking. I do like to listen to a podcast while going for a walk. There are times that while doing the dishes, I will put on one of my current Netflix binges on my iPad. Or right after Walter was born, when there hours and hours on end of holding him while he slept (so that the others in the house could get some sleep), I would use that time to read one of my books on Kindle.
There is something to be said though for paying attention to the sights and sounds around you while you walk. Or just letting your mind wander while doing the dishes. And these days, when I’m playing with Walter, I like to give him my full and undivided attention. It’s in many of these “mindful” moments that I feel more open to receive the signs that perhaps God is placing in my path.
4. Embrace gratitude.
There’s an expression that goes something along the lines of, “if you only say one prayer, let it be thank you.” I think that a little gratitude goes a long way. I know that for me, if I pay attention to the blessings I’ve been given, it can have an immediate positive effect on my mood. I pay more attention to God’s hand performing all sorts of amazing things in my life when I purposely embrace gratitude.
5. Read the Bible every day.
This is the most difficult one on the list for me. And once again, it’s because of that perfectionist, “all or nothing” attitude that I often have. You see, I can put a lot of roadblocks in my own way. I must get involved in an elaborate Bible study. I must read 5 chapters of the Bible daily. And on it goes. Instead, I’m making sure to start small. I’m setting a timer and reading the Bible (or a Bible study) for 10 minutes. Timer goes off and I stop. Or I don’t. But once I’ve fulfilled those 10 minutes, I have achieved my goal. If I’m feeling stressed about all the other things I need to get done that day, I can go ahead and do them instead. BUT, if I’m really into what I’m reading and I can take the time to read some more, I can do that too.
Does that all sound overwhelming to you? It doesn’t have to. Even picking just ONE of these and devoting 10 minutes to it is a start when it comes to maintaining the spirit of Lent. A really good start. Once that one is well underway, you can extend the amount of time you spend on it. Or you can add in another practice. You may find, as I do, that once you devote some time to your relationship with God, you’re motivated to draw even closer to the Lord.