What is Lent?
At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, He was sent into the desert, where He fasted from food for 40 days and 40 nights and completely devoted Himself to the Father (Matthew 4:1-11). All of this was preparation for His ministry to show and teach people who God is and how to live in perfect relationship to Him. Jesus’ hunger drove Him deeper into the presence of God, as He prepared to live out His mission as the Messiah, the Savior of the world.
Lent is the 40 day period from Ash Wednesday to Easter, during which Christians have traditionally followed Jesus' example of denying themselves in order to more fully devote themselves to God. The celebration of Lent pre-dates the Catholic Church, going back almost 2000 years to the early church.
We could give up a good thing like chocolate, a common convenience like Facebook, one meal each week like Friday lunch, or a temptation like dessert or alcohol. When we think of what we’re giving up, or crave it, we turn to God in prayer and we say, “God I’m putting you ahead of this in my life. I’m giving this up to tell you and to remind myself that I love you and need you more than everything else.”
This practice of denial and devotion helps us identify with and commune with Jesus, and serves to build up our anticipation for Easter.
How Do I Participate?
Participating in Lent is not an effort to impress God with our self-control. The goal is to press deeper into communion with Jesus as we follow His path of self-denial, bring our weakness and temptation to Him in prayer, and experience Him supplying our every need.
Each year during Lent, we DENY ourselves of some worldly comfort, and DEVOTE ourselves to God in its place.
1) Begin each day in prayer:
- “God, You are more important than anything or anyone else. I am going to spend today focused on putting you first. To live that out, I'm going to deny myself of this thing.”
2) Let your hunger and desire drive you deeper into the presence of God. Turn to Him in prayer:
- “Jesus, this desire I feel helps me understand a little more of what You experienced when You gave up everything to save me. Thank You for denying yourself for me."
- "God, You are more important than everything else. You are my treasure, my great reward, and the fulfillment of all my desires. Help me to walk in these truths as I resist temptation. Please supply all my needs right now.”
40 days—or 46??
You might notice that there are actually 46 days during Lent, not 40 – what gives? Traditionally, the 40 days of fasting during Lent doesn’t include the 6 Sundays that fall between Ash Wednesday and Easter—so every Sunday during Lent becomes a rest from denial and a small taste of the coming glory of Easter! Pretty cool!