Ash Wednesday (March 5th) is the first day of the season of Lent. The celebration of Lent, which can be traced back to the earliest centuries of the Christian faith, lasts approximately 40 days, excluding Sundays, between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday (April 20th). Lent is about the gospel; a time to narrow the focus of the Church to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, to turn from our sin and trust in His atoning work.
Lent is often marked by fasting from certain foods, beverages, or activities for the 40 day period. Too often, people simply enter into the Lenten fast without thinking about why. Why are we saying no to these things for the season? What is the point?
First, fasting reveals our true hearts. Sometimes we find that we become depressed, anxious, embittered, even angry when we fast. This simply reveals the idolatry of our hearts; that we have placed more value on that thing, that activity, that food, than it was ever meant for. Having this revealed so that we have the opportunity to repent and put these things back into their proper place is a mercy of God. John Piper asks, “What are we slaves to? What are our bottom-line passions? Fasting is God’s testing ground - and healing ground.”
Second, fasting is a declaration that Jesus is better. What we are doing when we fast is confessing that Jesus is more important to us than what we are fasting from. When we’ve had our hearts revealed, when we’ve repented, then we’re able to reconnect with God on a deeper, more intimate level. Again, John Piper says, “If we are full of what the world offers, then perhaps a fast might express, or even increase, our soul’s appetite for God.” When we feel the withdrawl or the hunger pang, it is a reminder to pray and seek Him. When we find we have extra time on our hands, it is a chance to dive into Scripture. If Jesus truly is better, then fasting allows us to pursue Him with greater attention.
If we decide to enter into fasting for the season of Lent, we should not simply see it as ‘giving up’ something, but as an opportunity to remove things (even good things) temporarily in order to reprioritize our lives and have our affections for Christ renewed. Fast from the distractions of this world. Feast on the riches of your relationship with Christ.
To assist you in celebrating the season of Lent, we have provided a downloadable Lent guide below. Inside, the guide suggests several options for fasts throughout the season. Use the guide on your own, or with family, roommates or your Community Group. We hope you will celebrate this season of preparation for Resurrection Sunday with us.
Download the Lent Guide HERE.
Read more about Lent HERE.