St. Christopher Catholic Church in Pontotoc, MS – a participating parish in our Next Generation Parish endeavor – decided they were up for a challenge… a prayer challenge.
Over Lent, they offered a Lenten Prayer Challenge to their community. Over the course of 40 days, parishioners were offered 13 challenges to test their faith and deepen their love for our Lord. One thing that St. Christopher Church has learned during their participation in Next Generation Parish is the importance of METRICS. They know that what gets measured gets improved, so they surveyed their parish to find out how this challenge worked for them.
What did you think about the challenges that were proposed in this Lenten season?
95% answered that they loved it!
One person even offered this feedback: “Try to include all 40 days next year.”
Wow, now that is a challenge!
Here were their 13 challenges:
Today, Christians strive to "give up" something during Lent in the categories of almsgiving, prayer, and fasting.
To reflect on Lent this year, we’re going to send you an email each day for 25 days. Each email will contain a challenge to help you grow closer to Christ this Lent, in preparation for Easter. Perhaps you’ll choose to take one of these challenges and commit to it every day until Easter!
📣Today’s challenge: Do not hit the snooze button tomorrow morning. Be determined to start your day for Christ by getting up on time.
Are you more of a coffee person, or tea?
What about soda and energy drinks?
Some of us prefer iced tea or lemonade.
Whatever your vice, give it up today. It may be tough, but each time you crave a sip of something sweet or your usual caffeine kick, offer it up as a prayer for someone in need, or ask God to unite your will to His in preparation for Easter.
📣Today’s challenge: Drink nothing but water.
From the beginnings of Christianity, both the Western and Eastern Churches observed Fridays as a special fast day in observance of the ultimate sacrifice Christ made for us on Good Friday. For some this meant giving up meat, and for others it meant giving up meat plus any dairy products.
Why is fasting important? The apostles and our forefathers knew that to say yes to Jesus, we have to practice saying no to ourselves. Fasting helps us to deny ourselves and keeps us from making pleasure, honor and glory the center of our thoughts instead of Christ and His will for us.
📣Today’s challenge: Plan to give up your usual Friday treat this week. Instead, save the $3 and give it to someone in need.
Let’s face it, we’re all just a little too busy. Some days, it’s hard to take time to pray, slow down and listen to our loved ones share that looong story from their day, or make it to that weeknight Bible study.
But slowing down and paying attention to those who matter most in our lives is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and those loved ones. This includes slowing down and spending time with the Lord.
📣Today’s challenge: Choose a weekday to attend Mass, a service, or a Bible study this week.
We all are aware of the many hours spent on social media these days. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Tik-Tok, most of us have our go-to that we wish we’d disconnect from more frequently.
📣Today’s challenge: Abstain from social media. Spend the time in prayer or face-to-face with your family or friends.
Almsgiving is donating money or good to the poor. It is a witness to fraternal charity and a work of justice that is pleasing to God.
"Give alms from your possessions. Do not turn your face away from any of the poor, and God's face will not be turned away from you. Son, give alms in proportion to what you own. If you have great wealth, give alms out of your abundance: if you have but little, distribute even some of that. But do not hesitate to give alms; you will be storing up a godly treasure for yourself against the day of adversity. Almsgiving frees one from death, and keeps one from going into the dark abode. Alms are a worthy offering in the sight of the Most High for all who give them." (Tob. 4:7-11)
📣Today’s challenge: Give alms. If you don't know where to give alms, give to your church or pick a charity based on a cause that you are passionate about.
Why do we fast during Lent?
Jesus is questioned about fasting in Mark 2:18 -20
Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, "How is it that John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?" Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast."
Matthew 17:21 also mentions that fasting is necessary to help drive away evil:
"But this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting."
📣Today’s challenge: Fast from something today and offer it to Christ.
“Our lives change when our habits change.” --Matthew Kelly
Simple as that! Focusing on a good habit can truly improve your days, and bring you closer to the person God created you to be.
📣Today’s challenge: Prayerfully consider a good habit you can begin this Lent, then write it down on a post-it note and leave it on your bathroom mirror or in a prominent place where you’ll see it daily.
Chances are, most of us have probably given up sweets for Lent in the past. There’s a reason this sacrifice is the ol’ reliable of Lent! So many of us have a really hard time turning down our favorite treats.
📣Today’s challenge: Abstain from all sweets, treats, and desserts.
Who doesn’t love to groove to their favorite playlist in the car, the shower, around the house, or while working? Most of us listen to music most of the day. And while music can be so good for our soul, it can sometimes prevent us from quieting our minds and listening to what God wants to say to us.
📣Today’s challenge: Turn off all music. Enjoy the stillness of silence, and ask God to help you listen to Him.
In the middle ages, meat, eggs, and milk were forbidden during Lent not only by ecclesiastical law, but by civil statues as well. Believe it or not, this rule was enforced until the reign of King William III (England, 1689).
Why do we give up certain types of food for Lent? What good does that do? Giving up a sensual pleasure (food) helps ensure that our lives do not become overly comfortable and without suffering. Fasting from pleasures of this life help us to realize that this is not what we are made for - we are made for a higher good, to serve Christ in this life and be with him in paradise!
📣Today’s challenge: Abstain from second helpings, snacks in between meals, and food after dinner.
Why do we focus on prayer? Scripture says to "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." (Romans 12:12) There are many scripture passages that stress the importance of prayer. Prayer is the building block to our relationship with Christ.
How can we say we know him if we do not spend time with him?
📣Today’s challenge: Pray quietly for 30 minutes.
Much like what we have discussed previously throughout these daily challenges, there are so many distractions in our world causing noise and pulling us away from our relationship with Christ. This Lent, try to prevent that from happening as much as possible.
📣Today’s challenge: Turn off the TV today. If you are feeling ambitious, say “no” to all screen time today, whether that is your phone, tablet, or laptop. Instead, spend your screen time in prayer or being present with the ones close to you.