Decluttering as Part of Your Lenten Spiritual Practice

The Lenten season isn’t just about giving up food and drink. It can also be a time for decluttering your mind and heart.

- Posted on Mar 6, 2019

Decluttering as Part of Your Lenten Spiritual Practice

The English word “lent” comes from a Dutch word referring to the season of spring. It’s the 40 days (not including Sundays) between Ash Wednesday and Easter, traditionally associated with giving up food or, in more recent years, social media.

Some denominations refrain from meat on Fridays, while other people give up one food category, perhaps sugar or coffee, for the full 40 days.

But the “Great Fast,” as referred to by some church traditions, can also be a time to do a spiritual reset by decluttering and re-focusing on what really matters.  

The purpose of Lent is to give up the things keeping you back from God. Decluttering can be a way to release physical and spiritual clutter and focus on developing your relationship with God.

Like any fast, this is a two-step process. It’s not only about giving something up, but connecting with a higher power. Here are three strategies to incorporate decluttering into your Lenten season:

1.Toss out one item every day for 40 days

Start small by committing to get rid of one item a day for the next 40 days. To help yourself remember, set a daily alarm—perhaps for first thing in the morning, during your normal prayer time or during an evening loll. It may feel small, but by Easter you’ll have removed 40 unnecessary items from your life.

2. 40 bags in 40 days

In 2011, Ann Marie Heasley, who blogs at White House Black Shutters pledged to l declutter during Lent—she called it the 40 Bags in 40 Days Decluttering Challenge. The challenge is simple: fill one bag with items to discard every day during Lent.

3. Clean out one area every day

Another way to approach decluttering is to make a list of areas in your home, office or life you want to declutter and then work on one space a day. These could be as small as a junk drawer or bathroom cabinet. If you declutter one small space every day, you’ll have made major progress at the end of 40 days.

Once you’ve decided how you want to declutter, it’s even more important to remember what Lent is truly about: connecting with God. Here are a few ways to keep your focus on God as you declutter:

1. Use cleaning time to pray

It might sound obvious, but the purpose of decluttering isn’t just to make more physical space—it’s to make spiritual room for God. Try practice this by praying as you clean, fill bags or tidy up spaces.

2. Don’t forget the non-tangibles

Just because you have a clean house doesn’t mean there aren’t spaces in your life that need a fresh look. Perhaps you’ve been feeling disconnected from God and need to take a hard look at your social calendar and find ways to free time. Or maybe you feel debt is holding you back and want to make a plan for decluttering your finances. Decluttering isn’t only tied to physical belongings. Use this season of penitence to re-assess your mental and spiritual health as well.

3. Set aside time for God

No matter what you decide to do for Lent—even if you do nothing at all—you can dedicate yourself to prayer and quiet time this season. Commit to a daily devotional or prayer practice, like Guideposts 40 Days of Prayer ProgramClick here to sign up for the Lent prayer program.

How do you commemorate Lent? Comment below and let us know.

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Tags: God,Lent,Prayer
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