Last night at church my wife Joanna gave us all a brilliant Lent challenge, so I thought I’d share it with you here. Lent starts this Wednesday 05 March (remember to celebrate with pancakes tomorrow night!). It’s always a great opportunity to think about where you are in your relationship with God, and what changes you would like to make to get to know Him better.

This makes Lent more than just giving something up for 40 days. It becomes more about what can you do to draw closer to God during this season. That could involve giving something up, taking something up, or a whole host of other things.

So last night Joanna challenged us with three questions:

  1. What will you give up for God this Lent?
  2. What will take up for God this Lent?
  3. Who will you stand up for this Lent?

I’ve already decided to give up chocolate this Lent. I last did that back in 1998, so it’s about time I did it again, and reminded myself that God is far more important than this most tempting of treats for me.

But what will I take up for God this Lent? I think a new practice that will hopefully help me draw closer to Him. Currently the challenge I feel is to sing worship songs whilst I’m in the shower, to have an extra time of regularly praising God.

And who will I stand up for this Lent? That’s one I hadn’t considered before, but I’ll do so before Wednesday starts. The Bible encourages me to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9). So this Lent I’ll commit to speaking up for someone or some group who have been wronged.

What will you give up? What will you take up? And who will you stand up for?

Mark Williamson works as a director of One Rock. He’s a lay preacher and leader within the Methodist Church, author of a biography on John Wesley, and has a biography on William Wilberforce coming out in summer 2014. He enjoys good films, good food, praying for London, and going for long walks with his wife Joanna. You can follow him on Twitter @markraynespark.