Every year when we come around to the Lenten season I always have people ask me why I take part in Lent as a Spiritual practice. “Isn’t that something that Catholics do?” And yes, as an ancient spiritual practice and a part of the Christian calendar, this is a practice that is usually reserved for the higher liturgy traditions. But I also believe it is a practice that has great value in other Christian traditions as well.
Lent is defined as the forty day period leading up to Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday and is an observation practiced through fasting to symbolize Christ’ forty days of fasting during his temptation in the wilderness. The unique thing about the Lenten fast is that every Sunday during the time period from Ash Wednesday to Easter is a day of celebration from that which you are fasting. This is intended to prepare your hearts for the ultimate celebration in the Christian calendar…Easter! There is a traditional fast prescribed by church tradition, but often in protestant denominations, laity have taken part in a selective fast where they sacrifice part of their daily routine to the forty days.
So how does this add value to our walk with Christ? Lent is really all about appetite…which is ultimately where temptation strikes. We have appetites for all sorts of things and in Lent we sacrifice one of our appetites up to a time to grow with God. In an interview last year, Mike Breen (the head of 3DM), referred to the effectiveness of Lent in the following quote. “Learn to use your will to give something up so that the doors of your heart are crowbarred open just enough so God’s Spirit will give you His power over the other Appetite.” God’s Spirit is partnered with our consecration to Him. If we are yielding our appetites up to Him for forty days, perhaps we are able to easier give the harder things over to Him as well. Growth through Lent can look a lot like growth in Holiness. So may you find forty days from Ash Wednesday to Easter as an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to walk with you into the ultimate celebration in the Christian year…the Resurrection of our Lord!
“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10-11