Even the most mechanical routines can transform our inner lives.
Being religious is not about following rules. It's more like dancing.
My Lenten practice has almost involved some kind of endurance. As a child I usually gave up something like chocolate or sweets. My practice evolved into committing to walk to the grocery store or buy nothing but food or, one year, give up plastic. But regardless of what I took on or gave up, I have always intended for this to last through all of Lent. The practice ends—or finds a new form—at Holy Week, and the endurance test ends with it. This year, Lent has an entirely different rhythm for me—because of a book by writer and Benedictine oblate Paula Huston.
Sustainable Lenten disciplines anticipate an Easter in which they will continue. But surely Easter hope is for something more.
If you share my concern about the theological thinness of much of the current craze of construing Christianity as a practice, get Roger Owens's book. Even more, if you care about the theological identity of the church, you will find The Shape of Participation to be this decade's finest work of ecclesiology.