40 days of fasting and prayer leading up to the most remarkable days in the Christian faith, Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection is Lent.
Because Easter is a moveable feast, so is Lent and the other holy days of Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Palm Sunday, and Good Friday. This year, Lent is observed from March 6 – April 18. It’s not found in the Bible, but has been observed by followers of Christ for centuries as a spiritual discipline and remembrance.
I’ve learned from some scholars that the 40 days imitates Jesus’ fasting in the wilderness before He began His public ministry. I’ve read that “like all Christian holy days and holidays, it has changed over the years, but its purpose has always been the same: self-examination and penitence, demonstrated by self-denial, in preparation for Easter.” (Christianity Today)
Secular theories of Lent involve Fat Tuesday and giving up something for selfish reasons, selfish gain, or out of religious obligation.
From my findings, observing Lent is intentionally setting aside time to remember Christ's life and death and resurrection and to discipline oneself to fasting, prayer, and studying of the Scriptures.
I recently read that “if Lent is not about getting to know Jesus Christ better, it is a waste of time.”
Therefore, I don't feel pressured into observing Lent, but consider it an opportunity to know Christ more.
Anytime I make a goal or set out to do something, I’m also looking to the other side of the accomplishment or journey. Looking at Lent, I wonder, what will come of us after 40 days of fixing our gaze on Jesus and less on the things of this world as we deny self more than normal? What could happen as we develop a stronger discipline of prayer, or at the very least an awareness that we’ve given something up to gain more of Jesus? (put this in the email to those who participate)
What if the gain is greater than the sacrifice?
“No matter how deep you are now, wade in deeper still. Don’t worry about what’s going to get wet. Don’t stop at the point where you can keep your feet underneath you. Get swept away. What are you holding onto? What are your hesitations to living a more Spirit-led life of faith? What illusion of control are you clinging to? Go all in. Pray today that this fast will be just the beginning of a deeper relationship with God.” (21 day fast, You Version)