On Ash Wednesday millions of Christians across the world make their way to their local church and have a cross of ash placed on their forehead. This cross is to remind them and others of their mortality and also serves as a sign of repentance before God for their sin. Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent. I want to share with you why I am observing Lent and ask you whether you should consider this too.
I think of myself as a modern, bible accepting, evangelical Christian that believes in the presence, leading, gifts and daily work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. By this definition, some people would not describe me as a “traditional” Christian. Why then am I observing a very traditional fast on the Christian calendar?
- Spiritual disciplines are essential for our growth. Disciplines such as prayer, sacrifice, service, silence, contemplation, and many others, including fasting, cause me to draw closer to God and to strengthen my faith. Fasting, when practiced fully and with intentionality, is a particularly beneficial discipline because it encompasses many other disciplines such as sacrifice, prayer, contemplation and silence.
- Collective worship is a powerful force. Throughout scripture, in both old and new testament, we see examples of both large and small groups of people praying, fasting and singing in worship to God and then amazing things happened. Enemies were turned back, people were healed, prison doors were opened. For the next 46 days of Lent, millions of fellow believers across the world will be fasting and praying. I want to be a part of this collective, powerful force.
- Repentance of sin has great healing power. In the book of James we read that if we confess our sin one to another and pray, we will be healed. It then goes on to tell of the great power there is in the prayers of a righteous person. Lent is a time of repentance. A time to mourn my sins and turn away from them. I don’t know about you, but I certainly can do with some extended time to contemplate the many ways in which I trespass and to take time to truly repent and seek the healing power of the Holy Spirit going forward.
- Taking time to prepare for new ministry and a deeper walk with Christ is essential. My relationship with and my service to Jesus should be deeper and clearer after an extended time of prayer and fasting. This will prepare me well for the year ahead and the new work that the Lord has for me.
Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and will end 46 days later on Easter. I will be fasting a certain item for 40 days. Traditionally, Sundays (like the final Easter Sunday) is a day of feasting. On this day, I can partake of the item I am fasting. For the 40 days of fasting, I will set aside more time than I usually do to pray and to hear from God. I want to draw closer to the Lord, love Him more and serve Him better.
How about you? Should you consider observing Lent?