If you are not super familiar with Lent, and you think it’s something that only involved your Catholic friends at school not eating meat on Fridays for a few weeks, think again!
Any Christian can experience and practice Lent, too! And there are good reasons to celebrate Lent, no matter what kind of Christian church you attend.
Here’s some background on the history of Lent and its purpose within our Christian faith, as well as 10 ideas for what your family can do (or sacrifice!) for Lent.
What is Lent? Why Do We Celebrate Lent?
Just as we set aside time to spiritually prepare for Christmas by celebrating Advent, it makes sense to set aside time to prepare for the two most important days of the Christian church year, which are Good Friday (remembrance of Jesus’ death) and Resurrection Sunday.
Lent is a time that gives us an opportunity to reflect on our own shortcomings and sins and be reminded of how much we need a Savior. It’s a time to receive the grace of God and to be a little more intentional about practicing sacrificial faith as we remember what Christ did on our behalf.
Lent is observed for the 40 days leading up to Easter (Resurrection Sunday).
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, but it gets a little confusing here. Ash Wednesday starts on a different date each year depending on the date of Easter. Typically then, Ash Wednesday falls sometime between the middle of February and the middle of March. Then after that comes Easter, 40 days later!
On Ash Wednesday, churches sometimes will have a service where they put ashes on their forehead. Ashes symbolize mourning and help us to personalize the truth that our sin put Jesus on the cross.
You can certainly reflect on this without ashes, but historically Christians have continued this practice as a visible reminder of the words God said to Adam in Genesis 3:19, “For you are dust and to dust you shall return. . . .”, recalling how earlier the Lord had “formed the man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7).
Lent is a more somber season of the church year, unlike Advent, which has a more joyous tone. That sorrow is turned to great joy when we reach Resurrection Sunday!
10 Ideas for Celebrating Lent with Your Family
Here are 10 ways you can celebrate Lent with kids, whether you’ve done it for many years or if this is something new to you!
You can also view these 10 ideas for observing Lent in video form over on my YouTube channel!
I hope they are helpful ideas to help you connect with Christ during this season of Lent!
Ideas for Celebrating Lent with Kids
1) Attend a traditional Lenten service. All Catholic churches offer traditional Lenten services, but so do many Lutheran churches, and sometimes Presbyterian and Baptist churches will as well. There will probably be more in your area and a quick Google search should help you find one!
Ideas for a traditional service include: Ash Wednesday (discussed above), Maundy Thursday (Thursday before Easter, where communion is served), Good Friday (reading of the last words of Christ and more, very somber) and of course Easter Sunday! :)
Note: Please be sure to find a biblical church where you can attend a traditional Lent service! I’ve noticed an alarming trend of some churches practicing some Lenten traditions, but they’re not doing it in a biblically accurate way. If you need suggestions, email me at jenn at thepurposefulmom dot com and let me know where you live. I can probably identify a good option for you!
2) Do daily family devotions with a Lenten theme! You can find our best list of Lent Devotions for Families in THIS post!
3) Incorporate a daily prayer time that is focused on a Lenten theme as well. You can download our Lenten Printable Prayer Chain over in this post–you’ll need to subscribe via email, but you’ll get it right away and can unsubscribe any time.
4) Sacrifice something for 40 days. Talk with your family about something you can give up during Lent. It could be something tangible, like sweets, or it could be not going out to eat and using that money for charitable purposes instead. It could be a particular Christian practice that you’d like to get better at, like having devotions. It could be sacrificing your pride and forgiving someone you’ve held a grudge against and going to that person for reconciliation
Sacrificing for Lent isn’t about proving how holy you are. It’s practicing the denial of self and taking up the cross to follow Jesus. Luke 9:23 says, “And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” NASB
I think it’s also interesting how the Message paraphrases this passage. “Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self.” Luke 9:23
Being a Christ-follower does involve a change of priorities and Lent is a great opportunity to be intentional about this!
5) Take the opportunity to show hospitality. God reached down to us through Christ, so we can take the chance to reach out to others and show them the love of Jesus! Have a friend over for coffee or a family over for supper. Hospitality can be on the go, too. Bring something to someone: a meal to someone who is sick or a mom with a new baby or go and visit someone in a nursing home or care facility (if you’re not sick!).
6) Meditate on Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. Here’s a tangible way to do this. Find a print out of a lamb (represents Jesus, the Lamb of God). Grab some cotton balls. Each day of Lent, say a prayer thanking Jesus for His sacrifice or thanking God for who He is. With every prayer, put a cotton ball (or maybe half of one!) on the lamb and by the end of 40 days, it will be full!
I created a free printable to help you do this activity, you can find it by clicking this secure Google Drive link HERE.
***HEADS UP! You may make copies for your church as long as my website address shows on the bottom of the page on the copies you hand out. However, you cannot print this and use it as part of something that you sell. Thanks!
7) Understand and repent of your own sin. As a family, take a few minutes to talk about things you might be struggling with that you need prayer for, then pray for them out loud together! (Have a child who’s hesitant to pray out loud? Try these 8 things! Doing this during devotions is a good opportunity. This practice has such a positive impact on your family relationships and also helps you to recognize where you and your kids need help from Jesus, so that you know how to pray for each other! This is probably easiest to do with older kids, but you’d be surprised what a 5 year old can understand, so be sure to include the little ones as well, even if they’re just listening in :)
8) Focus on someone else’s needs. Prayerfully consider the needs of others around you, maybe it’s a friend at school or church or maybe it’s a community need where you can be the light of Christ in someone’s life. Let your kids give ideas too! Help your kids understand what a giving faith is about. Sacrificing some of our time and energy for another person brings us to an even greater appreciation of Christ’s sacrifice and love for us and His love for everyone else too!
9) Slow down your heart and mind. Consider how the busyness of your heart and life could be keeping you from a deeper understanding of Christ and His Word. Spend time together as a family. Say no to a few things. Pray before you rush off into your busy day.
10) Use Resurrection Eggs as Easter approaches! You can make your own resurrection eggs or order a set and use them the 12 days leading up to Easter! Each egg has an object and Bible verse inside that shares the story of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. Super engaging and fun for little and big kids!
You can find our very favorite set of Resurrection Eggs HERE!
We are mortal, but God is eternal! And because of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin, we can have eternal life!
Celebrating or observing Lent is a great way to be reminded of that. Because it’s easy to get distracted by the busyness of life, it’s a blessing to have an occasion that causes us to intentionally think about our sin and what Jesus’ death and resurrection really means for us!
You May Also Like:
More Lent ideas for your family…
Click on the links below.
40 Day Lenten Printable Prayer Chain
10 Simple Toddler Lent Activities
7 Lenten Devotionals for the Whole Family
40 Day Lenten Bible Reading Plan – Gospel of Mark
50+ Christ-Centered Easter Basket Ideas