Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.
Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Read: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Psalm 51:1-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; and Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
I dare you to give up more than chocolate for Lent. I dare you to do more than the symbolic gestures. Release something really big, like the urge to control everything, or independence from God and each other. Let’s see what God can do if we give up something huge and open ourselves to the Holy Spirit. I dare you.
Will you do it? Will you dare to think outside the box? Will you give up your own selfish desires and allow God to work his way in you? It’s a scary thing... how do we know we can trust him? How do we know we won’t become one of those obnoxious Christians we see running around?
I dare you to take the next forty days and do something constructive. Lent is a time to put aside unhelpful things, a time to assess where we stand in our journey of discipleship, and a time to pick up something that helps us in our walk with God.
We get into Lent and realize some of the baggage we’re carrying is useless weight and needs to be discarded. We don’t really need some of the things we’ve long been accustomed to carrying. Lent provides us the opportunity to cut those things out of our lives. As we drop our useless baggage, we then have room to add things that we actually need. Personal spiritual disciplines, for instance.
So, I dare you to do differently this year. Don’t stop with giving up chocolate or carbonated drinks. Don’t stop with giving up a TV program or favorite pastime. I dare you to give up something fundamental to your identity, and allow the Holy Spirit free reign to work within you.
You may find the following prayer helpful:
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.