I Don’t Believe in Giving Up Pizza for Lent

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Lent is designed to be a time for sacrifice and self-denial, the point of which is to deepen one’s relationship with God and strengthen habits of self control.

What you “give up” you can “offer up” as a prayer, united with Christ’s sacrifice of the Cross. Fasting is a powerful way to make an impact on the world with your daily prayers, which is why I think giving up pizza is a cop-out.

Is that harsh? Maybe. But I think Lent ought to be.

Unless you eat pizza every day, twice a day, you’re only going to be sacrificing anything a few times a week, max. That means your powerful prayers for our broken world are diluted to two, maybe four incidences in seven days instead of the hundreds of opportunities you could have.

When someone gives up eating between meals, or sweets that they eat 3-4 times a day (or more), or soda that they drink with each meal, or all meat or all grains, they are tempted many times throughout the day to give in and give up. At each of those times, they’re presented with an opportunity for prayer, for offering up their sacrifice with Christ. When you’re hungry all the time, like I am today, you can truly do what St. Paul says in 1 Thesselonians: “Pray constantly.”

That’s why I’d never give up pizza for Lent. It’s far too seldom and also too easy to follow the letter of the law and order a calzone instead.

Giving up something little like pizza, or your weekly trip to the coffee shop, or one show that comes on only on Thursdays, strikes me like Jesus getting all the way to the Cross and saying, “Nah, maybe next week. I’ve done enough today.”

When you love someone, you want to see them all the time. If you’re not with them, you’re thinking about them. You’re calling them. You’re texting them. You can’t wait until they come home, and when they do, you set other things aside to spend time with them.

Isn’t your love for Jesus worth setting a few things aside? Don’t you desire to see Him, to talk to Him, all the time? If you’re going to tell the Lord who died for your sins that you only want to pray and sacrifice for Him once or twice a week, I wonder if it would be better not to sacrifice at all. He spits out the lukewarm, anyway.

Prayer needs to be daily, or better yet, constantly. Fasting is an amazing gift that Jesus taught us to allow us to grow closer to Him.

How can you challenge yourself this Lent and work to improve your self-control and self-discipline?

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42 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. says

    I agree with you … I think this SHOULD be a difficult task that puts one in constant contact with the purpose of doing it …

    I also like to choose fasting. However, I think maybe I am not presenting myself with enough of a challenge. I do a daily 12 hour fast between 4pm and 4 am. Am I less committed because I fast at night instead of during the day?

    I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

    • Sarah says

      Skipping dinner is hard!! Going to bed a little hungry is what you’re doing, sounds like a sacrifice to me.

    • Katie says

      Merri Ann,
      Definitely shouldn’t be asking me about that! I think skipping dinner is awfully hard! Fasting is between you and God, for sure. :) Katie

  2. says

    I agree whole heartedly! I have committed myself to two changes that I know will be hard on my resolve- going to bed earlier (11pm, but for me that’s early) and not using my phone, computer, or ipad in the evening… I know that last one sounds a bit like a cop out, but they are necessary things for me to have for my blog and, well, they are my only contact with my family.

    I know I’m a little bit late deciding this, but I am debating on whether to give up grain, sugar, or both as well. But I also like that idea of 4pm to 4am fasting… I just don’t know if that would be reasonable for me to do every day, with my level of physical activity. Similar question… since I get up later, is it a cop out to fast from 7pm to 7am?? I always snack in the evening, so that would be a sacrifice.

    I just thought of an interesting story our priest used to tell every year at lent (I swear, he had seven stories he just repeated over and over…). He said he used to always give up Melon for Lent (and no, he wasn’t a kid at this time… I think it was during seminary if I remember correctly). Yes, he loves Melon, but there’s your point (not something anyone eats every day, multiple times). ALSO it’s not in season this time of year. But he went over to his parents house and his mom, knowing full well what he gave up (and why he chose it… she knew he was cheating…) had a huge, beautiful tray of cut up melon set out. Now that’s a good mom:)

  3. says

    Beautiful post! I just posted about fasting on my blog, and I’ve always thought it was wonderful that the Church, in her wisdom, calls us to fasting, which also has so many health benefits.

    @ Merri Ann- I think that is a great idea! From a health perspective, a 12 hour fast, no matter how it is worked in, is beneficial. If you wanted to step it up, you could do 16 hour fasts, where you eat all your meals during the day in an 8 hour period and fast for the remaining 16 hours, or you could do alternating fasts from 4pm one day to 4pm the next, which would give you full 24-hour fasts, but still allow you to eat each day (breakfast and lunch one day and dinner the next etc)

    For other Catholics out there, I’ve always found it fascinating that the church used to require a fast from midnight the night before receiving communion, and a fast of this duration puts the body in a heightened state of absorption and cleans the digestive track. At that time, Catholics were literally preparing for Christ, even physically.

    In case anyone is interested in more info on fasting and health:

  4. Ashlee says

    I gave up FB for lent and my hubby gave up ALL sweets. We were both already challenged by 9am this am. I completely agree, that it needs to challenge you several times each day.

  5. says

    Amen! I agree wholeheartedly. Constant communication with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the ultimate goal. Oh how I love Him! I want my life to reflect that I spend time with Him… I want others to see Jesus in me. Thanks for posting.

    • mdvlist says

      My focus this Lent is on that exactly: Being less cantankerous. In service of that goal, I’m resolving to head to bed at 10 instead of my customary 11, and resolving to concentrate more on proper eating (for me AND my family) rather than fasting (which gives me migraines and makes me want to kill people).

    • Katie says

      That’s a good one – can’t sacrifice something and end up sacrificing your family’s happiness, too! :) Katie

  6. Maria says

    Alright Katie! You were speaking right to me! Pizza was on the list along with facebook. You make a great point. So now it’s no facebook and adding more prayer and family time.
    Thanks for being harsh : )

  7. says

    It warms my heart to see that someone shares the same sentiment about Lent. At first I thought giving up chocolate would be a huge sacrifice for me and then I thought about what I would replace my cravings with. Instead of prayer, I would have dived for the peanut butter. I am praying for something so much bigger than me. It makes the idea of giving up chocolate seem so silly now. I have yet to share what I am giving up though. The Bible says to fast in secret but at the same time my husband says he always feels so inspired when he hears what people are doing. I’d love to hear what you think of this.

  8. says

    Well said. I was tempted to give up something easy and really, really did not want to give up the thing that kept tugging at my heart just because I knew it would be really hard. So, that seemed to be a good reason. If it’s hard to sacrifice, then it probably needs to be sacrificed. And I’ve struggled today already. Which means I’ve prayed alot today.

  9. Mairzie says

    Katie, what a beautiful and provocative post. Thank you for this and the prick to my conscience! God bless you with a spiritually fruitful Lent. This is a great start to mine. Pax.

  10. says

    I am giving up meat (a little challenging) and sugar (very challenging!) for Lent. Additionally, I am praying about the gifts I can offer to my family and church community. I am welcoming this time to get my heart focused. Thank you for your post!

  11. susan says

    Having dealt with eating disorder issues in the past, I try to stay away from food as a lenten sacrifice. I’m trying to give up complaining this year.

  12. Ellen says

    I have vanity issues, so… I decided to give up mirrors for Lent. Already messed up so many times, mostly by accident (you don’t realize how often you glance at your reflection in everything – mirrors, windows, Skype, shiny faucets – until you try to give it up), and a few times by weakness (just get too scared to leave the house without checking my hair, even though it always turns out fine). Resisting temptation by prayer seems like the most natural thing in the world, but somehow I haven’t thought of it myself… Thank you, Katie!!

  13. says

    Thank you for this article. As a non-Catholic Christian, I’ve never given up anything for lent, but you really caused me to think about the true meaning. I have decided to give up all in-between meal eating – which is actually huge for me. I’m a stay at home Mom, and eat many small times throughout the day. I think focusing on “three squares” and not reaching for the little spoonfuls here and there throughout my day is really going to help me focus on the Lenten season the way God intends by using those spoonful moments to focus on Him.

    • says

      I’m a non-catholic Christian too, and did not grow up observing lent, but have observed for the past few years and think it is a great practice for all christians, no matter the denomination.

  14. says

    Thank you for your post. I appreciate hearing from other women of faith. This quote by Neal A Maxwell is one of my favorites because it reminds me that everything I have belongs to God anyway and the only thing I have that I can give to him is my will. Giving up my will to do His will is truly a sacrifice and yet the reward is worth so much more than the effort. “The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give,” brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!”

    • summer says

      I appreciate this quote & the beautiful way that it captures the act of submission for what it is: a gift to God.

  15. Kari says

    Hi Katie!

    I have not fully decided what to give up for Lent this year, but I’m thinking it needs to be computer related. Since reading The Makers Diet last summer and as a result completely overhauling my family’s diet, I have gotten quite attached to a dozen or so Real Food blogs. I have learned so much from you and your fellow bloggers, but I’m thinking all the time I spend on my computer could be better spent in prayer and Bible study for the next six weeks. It would truly be a daily sacrifice to unsubscribe to my beloved blogs. Of all the blogs I read, Kitchen Stewardship is my very favorite, not only because you are so thorough, but because you put Jesus at the center of everything you do. My question is: Do you think it would be a cop-out if I unsubscribe from all blogs except KS? Oh, and I would be giving up Facebook as well.

    • Katie says

      You are so sweet! I’m not very qualified to answer this now, am I? As long as you subscribe again at the end of Lent, I support you in whatever you need to do to be as holy as God wants you to be! 😉 Katie

  16. CW says

    Thanks, Katie. As a protestant, I’ve never observed Lent, but you’ve convinced me that I should consider it. I’ll be praying about what God wants me to give up.

  17. says

    This week in prayer group, we shared what we were giving up for Lent. Then we discussed the differences between the sacrifices. Some people chose to give up something that they had direct control over like not eating chocolate. Others, like myself, were choosing to give up something that functioned in relation to others. Mine was yelling.

    I know I have 5 kids, and that I need to yell sometimes to be heard over the noise, but I don’t need to yell all the time. Very often I feel like I start with yelling when I could start with a normal tone of voice.

    I think what I’m saying is that perhaps our sacrifices need to be oriented towards doing something for others rather than doing something for ourselves. My goal with the yelling is to improve communication with my kids and make for a kinder, gentler atmosphere.

  18. Toi via Facebook says

    Everyone is in a different place on their spiritual journey. I think God understands their spiritual intention and appreciates and loves them for where they are, and does NOT consider them lukewarm, nor does he spit them out. He calls everyone to Him and holds them lovingly in the palm of His hand. It is this kind of sanctimonious judgmental soapbox that divides rather than unites. What someone gives up, or how important it is to them is not ours to say, it is about their conviction and is between them and God. The job of a more mature Christian ought to be ONLY to love and support them.

  19. says

    I think that you have a good point! Fasting also doesn’t have to be food. It can something else that consumes your time-that you replace with prayer or scripture-or encouraging other Christians, or well you get the point. One person I knew decided to give up an hour of her sleep every morning because that was what she loved the most-being in her cozy bed. I believe Lent is a time to challenge us and for us to challenge others to grow in faith, to be uncomfortable with what we have become complacent with.

  20. ani says

    I encourage you all to spend your 40 days reading and studying the books of Hebrews and Galatians. In the book of Galatians Paul addresses the error of following law. Some in the early church had forgotten that they were saved by grace, by Christ’s work on the cross and were adding to that Good News rules that had to be followed. Katie, when you say, “What you “give up” you can “offer up” as a prayer, united with Christ’s sacrifice of the Cross” you are nullifying the Gospel. Nothing can be added to Christ’s work on the cross. That is what “It is finished” means. God told mankind, through His beloved Israel, for thousands of years that they were to be perfect. He gave them His perfect Law to follow. This was in order to show them that it was impossible. We are all imperfect, sinful, wretched creatures damned to eternal hell fire. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”(Romans 3:23) “For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) This is why God sent His perfect Son, the only One who could perfectly keep His Law. Jesus Christ came and lived a perfect life, one which no one of us ever can, and He sacrificed Himself on Calvary where God poured out His eternal wrath on His own Son, the punishment which should be borne by us all. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21) Remember in the Old Testament when they were sacrificing animals? Those sacrifices had to be perfect, unblemished animals. If they weren’t they were not acceptable. Only the best is to be given. The best is Christ. “By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”( Hebrews 10:10-14) “Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin. (hebrews 10:18)

    • Katie says

      Actually, “It is finished” refers to the Old Covenant, which was completed in Christ, the Lamb, sacrificing once and for all. He drank the fourth cup of the Passover meal moments before uttering those words, after He had so uncharacteristically left the table before finishing the Passover Seder. Church history is rich with such Old Testament/New Testament connections. I assure you, I would learn little from simply reading Scripture without guidance from the Church and MUCH more learned people than I to help me connect all of the history of God’s people together.

      Yes, I am sinful. Yes, I am wretched. But daily I scrape and claw my way by His grace alone toward Heaven.

      God bless you,

      • Kathy says

        Dear one – stop clawing – stop trying – simply rest in what was done for us by Him – It is easy to conform to externals – it is our heart He wants. It is a very easy thing for me to give up certain foods – it is an entirely different matter to love others when they are antagonistic or hurtful. The kind of fast that our Lord wants is in Isaiah 58 – a wonderful world it would be if us believers of Our Lord Jesus Christ would fast as He asks ! Ani provided many verses that would profit us to be studied :)

  21. Elizabeth via Facebook says

    I like this post. I see it as holding people accountable rather than judgemental. I was raised Catholic but am now Protestant. I’d say the attitudes toward/treatment of Lent has probably been the biggest thing I’ve struggled with. In some churches I’ve been in, you wouldn’t even know anything was going on between Ash Wednesday and Maundy Thursday. I also see it as a time of reflection, sacrifice, and remembrance.

  22. says

    Loved this post!! I’m not Catholic, but Lent and fasting are wonderful for our own relationship with God. I think what you are saying is if one wants a deeper, real relationship it’s time to put out love for pleasure aside for loving God (2 Timothy 3:4). THANK YOU for LOVING people and telling them the truth for their own good!

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