I was first introduced to the Lent season whilst working in a London school. As I didn’t have a background in a traditional denomination like Lutheran, Anglican or Catholicism,I learnt alongside the children all about Shrove (Pancake) Tuesday and Ash Wednesday.
And while many may think Lent to be a religiousthing to do, I always like to stay curious and ask myself,“What can I learn from this?”
What exactly is Lent?
“It is the period of reflection and preparation before the celebrations for Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday, six and a half weeks before Easter, and provides for a 40-day fast (Sundays excluded) in imitation of Jesus’ fasting in the wilderness” (Britannica.com).
Lent 2020 starts on Wednesday 26th February and goes until Thursday 9th April.
Today, during Lent, many Christians commit to fasting, as well as giving up certain luxuries. It could be anything from chocolate, sugar, coffee, Netflix, alcohol, or playing video games.
Should Christians partake?
I personally think it is up to the individual and what they feel the Holy Spirit wants them to do rather than just partaking in it religiously.
In the past, Lent has provided a specific timeframe of focused fasting and has kept me accountable. Fasting during Lent has helped me to focus on the upcoming Easter period and what this truly means as a believer, rather than just the typical four days of Easter.
Fasting on the Rise
Regardless of people’s belief system there has been a definite rise in the popularity of fasting.
“Intermittent fasting” is all the rage, with people experiencing wonderful health benefits and seeing some amazing results, myself included.
I find it fascinating that fasting is ‘suddenly’ getting the attention it deserves, whereas it has been around for literally thousands of years. The bible really does contain everything we need to live healthy, abundant lives!
However, fasting from food is just one element. God may be encouraging you to have a fast from social media, television or sugar. He knows you best and wants the best for you, so I would ask him to reveal if there is something, he thinks would be beneficial for you to take a break from.
Exercising the Will
I’m the first to admit, I have great intentions and goals when it comes to fasting, yet when tiredness kicks in or I’m feeling a little flat or bored, it is difficult for me to exercise my will and show some self-control!
This is one area where fasting for a set period, such as Lent, can be beneficial. Knowing there is a greater reason for fasting rather than just losing a couple of kilos or getting clearer skin helps me as well. Fasting helps me to shift focus from the natural to things above.
Jesus fasted and prayed. But he was clear in saying don’t just do it religiously and for others to see how ‘holy’ you are.
Matthew chapter 6 verse 18 says;
“that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your father who is in secret. And your father who sees in secret will reward you.”
I believe it is a heart decision between you and the Father.
Regardless of whether you will partake in a fast of some kind during Lent, I do pray it will be a time of reflection over Christ’s ultimate sacrifice; cancelling our sins once and for all, enabling us to have right-standing with the Father and giving us life and life abundantly.
Jo Fuller lives on the beautiful Sunshine Coast with her husband, son and daughter. Jo is a teacher with an education in journalism and early childhood who loves to spend time with her family and enjoys reading and writing whenever she can.