Do you long to draw closer to God? Do you want more of God’s presence? If the answer is yes, then I invite you to observe Lent this year. Depending on what church denomination(s) you have been to, you may or may not have heard of Lent. I currently go to a non-denominational church that doesn’t observe Lent. But I still find Lent to be a valuable time, so I prefer to observe it.
What is Lent? In anticipation of Easter, Lent is meant to be a time of spiritual reflection. It can be a very rich, soul-nourishing season … if we make the right decisions. I will dig deeper into that in a bit.
When is Lent? Lent starts on Ash Wednesday (which lands on 3.6.19 this year) and lasts for about forty days. Lent ends just before Easter. Depending on the denomination (such as Catholic), some say it ends on Holy Thursday. But in the churches I went to when I was a child (such as Methodist), it was said to end on Holy Saturday.
You will often hear people say that they are giving up something for Lent. I am sure you have heard of Mardi Gras, which is French for Fat Tuesday. This is the day before Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Many people give up certain foods or drinks during Lent. And on Mardi Gras, they indulge in those things one last time before Lent begins. Then they say they are giving up chocolate or coffee (for example) in the name of the Lord. They see this as a sacrifice, which I can understand.
Nevertheless, in my opinion, if I give up something for Lent, it should be an item that hinders my relationship with God. For me personally, I don’t feel that giving up a certain food or drink is helpful. To be honest, there were times in the past when I did give up chocolate or cookies for Lent. However, now my focus has changed. During Lent I want to grow in my relationship with the Lord. I personally would prefer to find something that will truly improve my spiritual walk and produce lasting results.
Please keep in mind that I do believe there are times when giving up a meal might be a good idea, such as not eating dinner, if I am using this mealtime as a means of traditional fasting. I could use the time to pray, rather than eat. Or I could also consider using the money that I didn’t spend on that meal, and donating it to those less fortunate.
In today’s society, a good thing to give up might be social media. This tends to be a huge distraction in our lives, which takes away from our time with the Lord. Giving up television, computer time, or video games are other good examples. This will vary with each person. It all depends on what stands in the way of deepening your relationship with God.
Or another option would be to add something new to your routine, rather than removing something. If you haven’t had time to read your Bible on a regular basis lately, adding a daily Bible reading regimen would be a wonderful option. Or you might want to find a Lent devotional to read over the forty days. Or you could also consider adding more prayer time into your day. Again, this will vary with each person. If you see an area in which you would like to grow, then consider making this a priority for the forty days. The point is to draw closer to the Lord. So if you decide to observe Lent, then you will need to examine your own life to see what the best options would be.
I do want to mention one more things. It is important to go in with a solid plan. There have been years when I said I would just “cut back” on electronic devices. This didn’t work out well because I still looked at my smart phone every day, and in the end I didn’t see any real changes in my life. But if I had decided to only use my phone for calls – this would have worked out better. It would have given me more concrete guidelines to follow, and in turn, I would have seen better results.
So before this Wednesday, I encourage you to give this some thought. (If you read this after Lent has started, it’s not too late. You can still use the time remaining.) If you want to deepen your relationship with God, then consider observing Lent. And think about what things you might want to remove and/or what things you might want to add to your routine. Please comment and let me know your view on Lent and how you plan to observe it. I pray that by Easter, we all will see that we have drawn closer to God and deepened our faith!