Lent begins next Wednesday and is a season of preparation and reflection that is celebrated by many Christian faiths. It is a 40-day period leading up to Easter (not including Sundays) for us to reflect on Christ and His ultimate sacrifice on our behalf.
What is the Purpose of Lent?
Lent is a time of repentance, reflection, fasting, and sacrifice. It’s not to be practiced in a legalistic fashion, but as a sacrificial observance from our heart. The goal is greater intimacy with God.
Why is Lent 40 Days?
Lent is 40 days on the Liturgical Calendar representing Christ’s time of temptation and fasting in the wilderness at the beginning of His ministry.
Who Observes Lent?
Many Christian churches who follow the Liturgical Calendar will observe Lent as a congregation. Other Christians participate in Lent on their own, without guidance from their churches.
How Can We Practice Lent?
There are several things we can do during this time to prepare our hearts for Easter.
- Pray and Repent – Spend extra time in prayer. Ask God to reveal any ongoing sin in your life, decide to turn from that sin. Pray for God to break that sin cycle. Pray fervently that He will free you from that temptation. Thank Him for His love and mercy and forgiveness.
- Fast – For some, it may be refraining from some type of food or beverage for a time, but for others it may be giving up something in your life that keeps you from spending time with God or prevents you from being as productive in your day as God intends. Fasting reminds us of Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice on our behalf.
- Give – Use this time to remember those who are less fortunate. Reach out to someone by sending encouragement through an email or text. Look for ways to donate your time to help your neighbor. Or donate goods you no longer need or use to a charity you support.
As you spend time in prayer and reading God’s Word during this season, here are some verses to meditate on:
Philippians 3:10-11 – “I want to know Christ, yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participate in his sufferings, becoming like him in death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”
Joel 2:12-14 – “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate. “
Matthew 6:16-18 – “when you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites…but when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
1 Peter 5:6 – Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.”
If you would like more information on Lent, there is a great article HERE.
Finally, here is a prayer I found online and though I don’t know Debbie McDaniel, her prayer is certainly a wonderful reminder that God can bring beauty from ashes.
Lent Prayer by Debbie McDaniel
In this season of Lent, we’re reminded of our own difficulties and struggles. Sometimes the way has seemed too dark. Sometimes we feel like our lives have been marked by such grief and pain, we don’t see how our circumstances can ever change. But in the midst of our weakness, we ask that you would be strong on our behalf. Lord, rise up within us, let your Spirit shine out of every broken place we’ve walked through. Allow your power to be manifest through our own weakness, so that others will recognize it is You who is at work on our behalf. We ask that you would trade the ashes of our lives for the beauty of your Presence. Trade our mourning and grief for the oil of joy and gladness from your Spirit. Trade our despair for hope and praise. We choose to give you thanks today and believe that this season of darkness will fade away. Thank you that you are with us in whatever we face and that you are greater than this trial. We know and recognize that you are Sovereign, we thank you for the victory that is ours because of Christ Jesus, and we are confident that you have good still in store for our future. We thank you that you are at work right now, trading our ashes for greater beauty. We praise you, for you make all things new. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
‘and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. ‘ Isaiah 61:3