This week marks the beginning of Lent – the 40 days preceding Easter Sunday. I know many people in my faith tradition, Baptist, who have never heard the term much less practiced a 40 day period of fasting in conjunction with Lent. This is a shame. To join millions of other Christians in preparing our hearts, minds, and bodies for the joy of Resurrection Sunday is a deeply meaningful and enriching experience.
Christ Webb, President of Renovare, writes that Lent is ”a time of repentance, an opportunity to experience the mercy of God, to be set free from past patterns of behavior, and to embrace a life of joyful holiness.” Wow. If I were more eloquent or a thief, this would be the Christian Life Hacker mission statement. In a nutshell, Lent is a time when God is calling you to renew your commitment to him by humbling yourself and sacrificing your wants for the “mercies of God” and “joyful holiness.”
Here are three steps to approach and practice Lent:
1. Sin Inventory. On Ash Wednesday, some churches have their members write down a particular sin or sins on a piece of paper and then throw it into a fire. You may want to just take a piece of paper and start listing sins. Pray over your list and ask for forgiveness and then throw it away to symbolize how these sins no longer have a hold on you. If you have a trusted friend, you may want to share a few of the sins on your list and ask them to pray for you that Lent will be a powerful time of renewal.
2. Pick an Elimination Food Item. I have talked in this blog about fasting or eliminating. I have mentioned fasting from technology or sports but the traditional way to fast is to eliminate food or a food item for a time. Last year, I fasted from Soft Drinks during Lent.
Though some people may feel more of a sacrifice if they fasted from Facebook or TV, I would encourage you to try a food item because of the connection between our body and our spiritual life. Our brokenness and sin can so infuse our heart and mind that it filters to our body where our parts are so willing to do wrong. Fasting from a food item starts to break the hold that our body has on our heart and shows us an existence that is not characterized by untamed fleshly desires.
3. Join with others. Even if your church does not practice Lent corporately, there is no reason for you to practice it in isolation. Take if from me, who tries to do everything on my own, a community or a few people who are doing this together will make the experience much more meaningful. Ask your spouse to join you or a best friend. If you are already in a small group or Bible Study, then tell the group what you are doing and have them pray for you and consider joining you. This blog could even be a place to join with others. Tell us what you are doing in the comments box and the Christian Life Hacker community can pray for you as you become active in this great preparation for the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
On Wednesday, I will let you know what I will be fasting from and give you an opportunity to join me in practicing Lent.
This post previously appeared March 4, 2011