What Is Lent And Why Should I Participate?

Sacrificing one thing without seeking something else will always leave you short in your spirit.

This Wednesday, February 14th, marks the beginning of Lent.  Lent is the 45 days leading up to Easter Sunday and is a season of fasting and prayer designed to focus us on repentance, confession and spiritual renewal with God.

I gotta be honest.  Up until last February of last year, I really didn’t know a lot about Lent.  For a lot of us, me included, when I heard “lent” I thought of the fuzz you find in your pocket or clean out of the dryer at home.  But Lent is a century’s old spiritual practice and discipline, that unfortunately for many people, has turned into a tradition only.

For the longest time, all I really knew about Lent was McDonald’s promoted the Filet-O-Fish more than normal and on Ash Wednesday some Catholic friends looked like they needed to wash their forehead.  Lent is not something we are required to observe as followers of Jesus, in fact, this year I am not giving up anything for Lent.  However, if you are observing Lent, I’d love for you to know a little bit more about it while you do.

I provided a video below from a sermon last year at Element Church where I preached about Lent.  As a church, we went on a 40-day focus to intentionally seek God and prepare ourselves for Easter Sunday.

If you do choose to observe and participate in Lent, there are three things after the video to consider doing.  Personally, I believe if you observe Lent but don’t seek these three things it will be a fruitless effort.  Why?  Because sacrificing one thing without seeking something else will always leave you short in your spirit.

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So, what should we seek during Lent?

1.  The Word of God

What if over Lent, we had a renewed focus on God’s Word?  I’m not talking about just “reading it,” although I think we should read the Bible.  I’m talking about learning to rely on it as food for our soul.

In Matthew 4:4 Jesus said, “People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” 

2.  The Will of God

Outside of His Word, the main way we seek the will of God is through prayer.  Fasting, without focusing on prayer will just leave you frustrated.  You’ll just be giving up something you like without seeking God to fill up the void.

Whatever you choose to give up during Lent, seek God during the time you’d normally be consuming that thing.  Whether it’s a specific food, drink, social media, or favorite activity, whatever it is, seek the will of God while you give up that one thing.

3.  The Worship Of God

In Matthew chapter 4, when Jesus was fasting in the desert and being tempted by the devil, He said this to satan:  “You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.”

Worship is one of the best ways to fill the voids in our life.  I’m not talking about coming to church and having the band play some songs for you.  You can worship anytime and anywhere.  You don’t even have to sing out loud to worship.

Maybe you play some worship music.  Maybe you sing in your head.  Maybe you just thank God for the sunrise, sunset, fresh air, family, and friends or whatever it is.  Worship is all around you!  Sometimes it takes giving something up to be reminded of what is already there.

Whether you choose to observe Lent or not, I hope you understand it more and appreciate it’s significance even more as well.

 

Jeff Maness
I am a follower of Jesus first, husband to a beautiful wife, father to four amazing children, lead pastor of Element Church in Cheyenne, WY, and blogger of all things life.

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