Lent 2017: It's More Than Just a Fast

Today marks the beginning of the Lenten Season. For the next 40 days, you will embark on a journey that will involve great sacrifice, but that will reap monumental rewards. These rewards are not tangible, like receiving a house, car, or winning the lottery. They are spiritual, and include the opportunity to increase spiritual discipline and endurance while developing a deeper relationship with Christ.  

Many of us look at Lent through the eyes of our flesh, believing we won't able to do without that thing from which we’re fasting for 40 days. However, the long-term benefits of sacrifice outweigh the short-term pleasure of pleasing our flesh.  You see, Lent can be a beautiful experience where you are no longer distracted, and can hear God’s voice clearly. The Lord will use those 40 days to plant a seed in your bosom that will blossom in the next season of your life. You may not believe me now, but if you truly take part in this journey, you will come to understand.

I know you have some questions. So, let me answer them for you.

What is Lent? Lent is the season on the Christian calendar that precedes Easter, and includes 40 days of fasting, repentance, and prayer.  This is truly the “let it go” season where you remove the food and drink, bad habits, people, and activities (i.e. social media) that act as a barrier between you and God.

The first day of Lent is also known as Ash Wednesday. It is the day when Christians are reminded about their mortality and repent for their sins. Ash Wednesday is observed at a mid-week church service where burnt palm ashes are smudged on the forehead of each person as an outward sign of humility. 

Why is it 40 Days Long?  Before Christ began his ministry, he was “led up by the Spirit to the wilderness” and fasted there for 40 days (Matthew 4:1). During that time of sacrifice, Christ was tempted by the devil upon numerous occasions, but resisted him. The 40 days of Lent is reminiscent of those days Christ spent fasting in the wilderness. 

From What Should I Fast? This is a very logical question. First, pray and ask God to reveal what He believes is a barrier between the two of you.  God will lead you to examine your life patterns, which will tell you exactly what you need to eliminate during Lent. Do you have an unusual dependence on food, turning to it instead of God when you’re stressed or upset? Are you always on your phone checking social media or texting when you know God is calling you to communicate with Him? Do you find it difficult to tame your tongue, speaking negatively about everyone, including yourself?  Do you always have to be busy doing something in order to avoid being in the quiet presence of God? Once God reveals the answer to you, then you will know what to release.

What Should I Do During Lent? 

Pray: I will be honest. You will be tempted, however, if you “seek first the Kingdom of God” through prayer, you will be able to push past your flesh and press into the spirit (Matthew 6:33). Remember, Christ was tempted while He fasted in the wilderness, but when he resisted, the “angels came and ministered to him” (Matthew 4:11). God will do the same for you.

Study: This is the perfect time to get to know God. Find a Bible Study or devotional to read daily. I would suggest that you wake up early in the morning to do this. Spending time with God during the pre-dawn hours allows you space to read and study without distractions. It also sets the tone for your day because it centers you in His peace.  (Listen to my Week #3 of my Cherishedflight Sunday Night Sessions podcast "It's Not Insomnia" for more suggestions on pre-dawn studying.)

Be Diligent: Lent is a sacred time, which means you cannot take yourself into certain environments you know will awaken your flesh. This is not the time to go into a new bakery if you’re fasting from sugar. This is not the time to hang out with your friends at the club if you’re fasting from secular music. This is not the time to be around that person that pushes your buttons if you’re trying to bridle your tongue. Know what your weaknesses are and avoid feeding your flesh.

I don’t know about you, but I am excited about what God is about to do for all of us this Lenten season. Please take this opportunity to press in to the Lord. I promise what God will do for your over the next 40 days will be worth the sacrifice.