WHAT IS LENT?
Lent, as a season of preparation for Easter, is traditionally focused on repentance. Even though
a repentant spirit should mark all we do year round, it is appropriate that certain times be set
aside for a particular focus on repentance. The Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday and
lasts almost seven weeks until Easter Sunday. The last week of Lent is called Holy Week, which
includes Maundy Thursday (commemorating the institution of the Lord’s Supper) and Good
Friday (commemorating the crucifixion). Reminiscent of Jesus’ fasting for forty days in the
wilderness in preparation for his ministry, the Lenten season, not counting Sundays, lasts forty
That brings us to the topic of fasting. Many Christian traditions have long tied the season with
giving up certain things, especially some food. Fasting can be a good thing for us who have so
much. Often our struggles are in denying ourselves things, in comforting ourselves, in filling
ourselves with activities and devices that there is very little space for anything else, most
notably God. However, fasting can also be a holy hill of sorts. One we die on every year in
failure or climb and feel the radiating goodness of self-righteousness. Fasting is meant to bring
you to repentance and a deeper hunger for God. This is why you might fast from something
during Lent...to grow in your awareness of this lack of space, the ways you don’t hunger and
thirst for Jesus and his kingdom, because you are always full with everything else. So, Lent
provides a season, 40 days, to be satisfied in God alone as your bread of life. Also, fasting
doesn’t just mean food. It could find its location here, or it could from your phone, from social
media, from bike riding, from tv, from work, no not really from work. But you get my drift.
Additionally it is important to remember that if you do choose to fast for Lent remember that
Sundays are supposed to be a break from the fast, because the Lord’s Day is never a fast day
but always a feast day—a celebration of the resurrection!
Whether or not you think fasting is helpful, I do want to urge you to treat the Lenten season as a
time for asking questions about your spiritual health. Part of that should include a special
emphasis on repentance and prayer.
With all this self-examination, however, it is crucial to keep your focus on the gospel (GOOD
news!): All of us are more sinful and helpless than we would’ve ever dared admit, yet in Christ
we are more accepted and forgiven than we would’ve ever dared hope.
We invite you to incorporate this devotional into your spiritual practices this season. May God grant you a truly holy Lent!